Flashback: The Journey–July 15th-17th

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Wednesday, July 15th: Things deteriorated rapidly before our departure. Kurt’s tick bite turned ugly. Diagnosis: cellulitis.  Prescription: antibiotics. The doctor looked at an odd rash under his arm and dismissed it as minor and unrelated. Two days later  (today) the rash has spread significantly and the sight of the tick bite is a hot, glowing, meaty red.  Meanwhile, Addie is nauseous with stomach cramps, lying teary-eyed and miserable with a hot water bottle on the coach. Connor helpfully points out that he has a mysterious bump on his neck. I rush around packing, checking and rechecking my lists, finishing up last minute details and feeling a wee bit stressed about leaving them all.

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Thursday: Addie has recovered enough to drive us to the bus station in Portland where we begin our journey. Meanwhile Kurt is headed back to the doctor’s and who knows what’s going on with Connor’s mystery bump.  But, finally, Lydia and I are underway; we’re on the bus and headed toward Boston. I opt to read while Lydia prefers to watch the movie, Gravity. Every so often I look over to see what’s happening– even without hearing the dialogue, I can tell this is an intense movie!  I sink back into my book. As we near the airport in Boston, I glance up at Lydia’s screen to see Sandra Bullock hurtling through space in a fiery capsule, speeding toward the ocean below. Great. That’s just what I need to see before getting on a Trans-Atlantic flight! (Did I mention that I’m a nervous flyer?)

Everything goes smoothly at the airport–Our flight is on time and we board. I can’t believe how cramped it is. Have I forgotten or were planes always this small? These seats are not designed for passenger comfort–especially not sleepy passengers. I enter my plane zone which essentially consists of pretending that I’m not on a plane. To do this I have to focus exclusively on my row of seats and on my reading material.  Lydia is a wonderfully sympathetic travel companion and we leaf through countless magazines together. Inane reading in People magazine is always a good option, and I find the “Spot the Difference” pictures a effective distraction, as always.OK! Magazine 10-18-10(“Oh look, her shirt is green in this picture!”) Looking around the plane requires me to acknowledge that I am actually on a plane, so I try very hard not to do that. This also means I minimize trips to the bathroom. Sleep is essentially impossible though we do nod off occasionally. By the time we arrive early in Dublin, I’m desperate to stretch (and to use a bathroom) but not thrilled to face the undeniable fact that there’s yet another take off and landing ahead of us before we arrive in Paris. We left home 12 1/2 hours ago.

After surviving another flight, we arrive in Paris, then catch a bus and ride for another 1 1/4 hours to the train station. As we speed through Paris, I get a quick thrill as I spot Notre Dame! At Gare Montparnasse we wait and wait until finally we catch the train to Quimper–another 4+ hour ride. Lydia dozes while I blearily take in the scenery–fields of heavy-headed sunflowers and golden round bales of hay, lovely towns and villages, granite architecture, soaring cathedrals.  We arrive in Quimper at about 6 pm local time.  We’ve now been traveling for over 24 hours.

Fatigue is oozing through my brain and it’s compounded by the uncertainties of the language barrier (I should have practiced my French!). After a quick taxi ride, we check into our hotel and then wander out. On a dim level I register the sights and sounds of this delightful town, but everything is slightly askew–foggy with fatigue. Despite butchering the language, with the kind assistance of our waiter, we are able to enjoy our first  crepes in France at a local Creperie.  Then we call it a night.

At long last, back at the hotel, we settle in. An hour or so later, I look over at Lydia who is sound asleep. I listen jealously to her relaxed, easy breathing. I yearn for sleep. I’m worried about Kurt and Addie and I’m utterly exhausted. On the brink of a wonderful adventure, I’m homesick and pissed at myself about that. I remember this feeling from childhood, when I wanted, above all things, to stay at a friend’s house for the night, yet yearned at a bone-deep level to be home with my family. I always called to get picked up. I can’t do that now and I don’t even want to except on some emotional, spent level.

Sleep.  I need sleep.

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