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Report 612: Light Enough to Travel

By trishmael from Louisiana, Spring 2004

Trip Description: Milan, Proceno and Rome, December 2004-January 2005

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Milan, Rome, Tuscany

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Garden Visits; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 8: Heavy-hearted, We Almost Didn't Go

photo by Gary

Trish and TIM calling Mom on a hike around Proceno

"Keep it light enough to travel . . . Don't you let it all unravel . . ." -The Be Good Tanyas

The only thing close to a pre-nuptial agreement Gary and I had was that we would travel. In a burst of incredible optimism, we told each other that his children were grown, as an academic I could wrangle summers away, he is self-employed, we had few other obligations--we would travel, a lot, and our lives were ideally in concert with that idea. We would go everywhere! We would go places like Kuala Lumpur and Lower Matecumbe just because we liked to speak their names! Of course, we made this agreement during our first big trip together, on the deck of a small sailboat anchored off an uninhabited Caribbean island, right after we had just witnessed something called "the green flash" and there were more stars than in the sky than at the planetarium show and we were in that peculiar expansive state that takes over during cosmic events. And of course, the next big trip was Italy, and we fell so deeply in love with the people and the food and the wine and the landscapes and the zeitgeist that we can't seem to go much of anywhere else.

Now, I still think we're lucky to have more opportunities than most to travel, but that night, in our cosmically-altered state, we conveniently forgot little things like: having elderly parents, the expansion of Gary's business that seems to be happening no matter how much he doesn't want it to, needing to produce enough peer-reviewed publications to get/retain tenure, directing dissertations, producing enough income to finance all of this travel, the little endless project of renovating an old house, etc., etc. In sum, there have been far fewer opportunities than we dreamed, and this one nearly passed us by.

Flash-forward to November 2004: I was in Chicago at a conference the week before Thanksgiving, came out of a session and made the mistake of turning on my cell phone: "You have 11 messages"--each one a small chapter in a very bad story that took me anxiously and suddenly to southern California just in time to witness my mother regaining consciousness in an ICU, having had emergency heart surgery. She's recovering well, and that's the main thing, but then I had to pay dearly for the two weeks I spent there once I got back to work. At work we are currently all enslaved to something called the Flagship Agenda, but I won't bore anyone with that. Suffice it to say I was so buried under stuff, and still so worried about my mother, that going to Italy right after Christmas for three weeks was looking unlikely.

But then, several kind friends suggested that it sounded like I needed a break, and my sister was taking good care of my mother, her recovery was progressing remarkably well, the airline wouldn't budge on any sort of refund, I remembered the ST contest cell phone we had in order to keep in touch, Gary pouted a whole bunch, and I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the glass door leading into the College of Arts and Sciences office one morning and did the classic middle-aged triple-take: 1) Is that haggard person me? 2) How did I become so haggard? 3) Life is passing me by! I must remedy that!

So we went.

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