Goodbye To All That

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I’ll be in London soon, lurching through customs in the wee hours for this time zone, although bright and early for the Brits. We’ll spend nearly five hours in Heathrow before the short hop north to Glasgow.

I say soon. We’re in the window now, when there’s nothing to do but wait, pack, and freak out a little bit. Just a little.

But we’ve got plenty of time for this. When Monday morning rolls around in North America, I’ll be somewhere in Britain.

The sense of being close to everything is strong now. I’ve been a world traveler vicariously only, and now that I’m in the general vicinity it’s interesting, and a little frustrating. I’ll in the heart of London (I’m not sure if Heathrow is considered the heart; could be the liver, I guess) and I might as well be in Atlanta, for all the good it does me.

It’s not really bothering me. It just reminds me of 10 years ago, when Beth and I drove across most of America, from Boston to Santa Fe. We were in a hurry, and so I could only watch as the Manhattan skyline passed in the distance. I thought about how close we were to Washington, D.C. later on that day, sliding through Maryland on our way to stay in a small town in West Virginia. I would have loved to spend a week in both of those places, but it would have to wait. It’s still waiting.

This is mild frustration only. It’s London. I’d love to spend a week or three. Not on this trip, because you can’t have everything, and what we’re getting is going to be spectacular, full stop.

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My normal packing anxiety is taking a backseat to everything else, it seems, or else I’m just better about it. It may have helped that we had to travel the week before this big trip; both of us suspect this, actually.

But my normal travel is specific and short-haul only. I never check a bag, with my go-to valise all I need—it fits under the seat, so I’m never worried about cluttered overhead compartments. Even for trips over a week, I only bring a few days’ worth of clothes, knowing how to do laundry as I do.

And since we’re staying primarily in rented homes or apartments, laundry should be no problem at all. I could probably get away with four of everything, but there’s no need because we’re going to Europe. We’re checking bags, duh, and now I’m tasked with filling up a small suitcase and then my valise, which I think now is not going to happen. I just don’t have enough stuff.

I don’t. I’m a guy who discards clothing mercilessly, so I have a Spartan closet, the entire contents of which I could probably easily take. I won’t, so I’m going to have lots of room. Most of it will probably be Julie’s stuff, anyway.

So not much stress, just clock-watching. The suitcase will be packed by tonight, ready to go. Me, ready or not.

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Speaking of prepping for a trip—I made jokes several times over the past year-plus to our reunion group, suggesting that we were running out of time to lose weight, get plastic surgery, have our teeth whitened, etc. Just the standard jokes about the standard things we think about when we’re about to reunite with people we haven’t seen since we were young and beautiful.

No one was going to do this, of course. I got a haircut and replaced a partial denture, which just keeps me from looking like I have a gap in my teeth. I ordered new sunglasses but, my bad, they’ll arrive on Monday, when I will be far away.

But nothing else, and I was smiling over this a little before we left. I’m 61, not 25, and it shows, but the biggest thing is always going to be weight. We gain weight as we age, most everyone does, and everyone did.  I thought our group held up pretty well for this stage of life, but there were some extra pounds for everyone. It was mostly minor for the women and maybe a bit more for the men.

Just not me. And even with the Facebook photos, it was always the first remark. The thin thing.

I gave up worrying about it last spring, which is about the time I started eating more, so I don’t know. Since I’m very much aware of it, and I think about it all the time, and worry about my appetite, I think denial isn’t playing much of a role. I’m doing the best I can. The scale says I’m up 10-12 pounds since last January. I don’t think the scale tells the whole story. I don’t know what that’s about, either.

But I certainly didn’t feel the urge to lose weight for this reunion, which feels special and kind of like a blessing. I weigh about what I did back in that summer of ’83, but it must look different at this age. And probably it’s just age. We’re supposed to put on a few pounds.

None of them knew me for all those years when I was hanging around 270 pounds, anyway. I think mostly it was curiosity about how I avoided the extra weight, and that was easy to explain, the depression, the lack of appetite, etc.

And nobody told me to eat a cheeseburger, for God’s sake, so. Another blessing.

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There’s a baggie filled with at least 100 packets of Splenda sitting here on the floor, by the suitcase. I’m not a Splenda junkie at all; I just use it to sweeten my coffee and tea, although I can always skip it. Surely they have some form of sucralose or other artificial sweetener in Scotland. Just a thing.

Otherwise, I have vitamin D and an antidepressant in terms of medication to take. I’ve got several books on my Kindle that I’m eager to read. I’ve loaded up some podcasts. I’m bringing a good battery for necessary charging on the road, but I doubt I’ll need it at all. We’ve got a Wi-Fi hotspot for our rented car, so I didn’t need to even get an international plan for our phones. And Wi-Fi is everywhere, even if my spellchecker doesn’t like it.

I’ve got a hat. I’ve got a windbreaker/raincoat thing (it looks to be cool and wet). I’ll bring clothing suitable for a Seattle spring, I figure, and that should work well. Layer, layer.

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And I’ve got a journal, and a pen. I have no idea how well I’ll be able to write the old-fashioned way, but I’m going to give it a shot. No one is bringing a laptop, as far as I know, but Julie has an iPad Pro and it’s essentially a laptop anyway.

I’ve got one column banked and ready to go out about the time we head for the airport tomorrow, assuming I don’t tweak it before then. I’ve got notes up on Google Docs for next week, and I’ll be home about 16 hours before the next one is due; I imagine I’ll have material.

And maybe I’ll update this blog from over there, but I have no idea. If not, I imagine I’ll be back in two weeks. I imagine a lot of things. I’m going to go see some of them now.

Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven. Going here, you betcha.

Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven. Going here, you betcha.

Chuck Sigars2 Comments