Sunday, July 12, 2009


Last fall, The Poet and I took an overnight trip to nearby Vashon Island. We had scarcely travelled together before that, given how sick I’d been and how The Poet eats up his vacation on trips to Egypt. I don’t remember how I got the idea of the weekend away into my head—I must have decided it would be fun to see some of the beautiful spots outside Seattle I’d heard so much about. It was pretty last minute, so I spent a couple hours trolling the internet and calling around for an available room. I also spent an hour and a half packing my medicine, injection gear, clothes, some back-up wheat free food and my infra-red mat for sleeping. When we arrived at the bed and breakfast I spent another hour unpacking it all.

While we were away I still had to take my two naps per day, do injections, keep track of taking my myriad of pills (harder to do when they’re not in the usual spots around the apartment) and worry if I would be able to eat what food came my way or able to sleep on sheets washed in detergent I would most likely be allergic to. In the end that didn’t matter—I tried to sleep next to The Poet for about half an hour on the queen sized bed, but he has a tendency to kick anyone in proximity to him while he sleeps, so I ended up spreading my far-infra-red body matt on the floor and using my backpack as a pillow. I woke up feeling pretty stiff, then had to worry about doing my injection and drinking down medicinal liquids before I made it down to breakfast, then back upstairs to pack all my stuff up before the checkout time.

We spent the remainder of the day walking through the hilly grounds around the B&B, then exploring the island. The trip was so short that by the time I was home and resettled it seemed the ratio of planning, packing, napping and travel to leisure time was 3:1.

The Poet, on other hand was delighted with the excursion. He frolicked on a sandy beach and insisted on wearing his socks to wade through the chilly surf to a beckoning sand bar. Such a simple change of scene was magic for him; he returned to Seattle ebullient. I, on the other hand, felt worn out from the strain of it all. Couldn’t we be just as happy at home, with all Seattle had to offer and so much less hassle?

So I gave up on traveling. I decided the only trip really worth taking was home to my family, where I know what food I will be eating and what bed I will be sleeping in, and where can stay for three weeks without racking up a huge bill. Otherwise, I told myself, I could be perfectly happy at home. As Emily Dickinson wrote:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry--
This Travers may the Poorest take
Without oppress of Toll--
How humble is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul

True that, until at last the Human soul feels it will Scream if has to look at the same white walls of the same tiny Apartment for yet another Day, no matter how good a Book said Human soul might be reading.

So it was that a few weeks ago I found myself casting around for anywhere we could go at the last minute for two nights. We ended up in Portland. Not surprisingly, given my travel record, I had never been there.

Yes, I spent forever packing, and unpacking, and even ended up missing taking some of my supplements at the right time. Expecting the floral scented sheets to be sickening (they were), I brought my own pillowcase and sheets to throw on top of the hotel linens. To my surprise, The Poet was moody on the first day, as he really wanted to go to a beach and didn’t find being in another city that exciting.

I myself had a glorious time. Yes, Portland isn’t all that different from Seattle, except there is no sales tax. There are also many fewer hills, so I could walk all I wanted without aggravating my tendonitis. But the best part was just to be somewhere different, with no dishes to wash or dinner to cook or garbage to take out.

By the second day The Poet had relaxed a bit, and we had several truly good meals, went to Powell’s books and did some unexpected things like stopping in the 3D Museum and riding a Ferris Wheel.

At age 16 I went to Costa Rica to learn Spanish, at 20 I boarded a plane for France and at 21 another to Buenos Aires. At 36 climbing aboard a ferris wheel in Oregon almost felt like more adventure than I could handle. I was worried that the ride would be too fast—I kid you not. This is how dull my life has become, but the upside was I could get a big thrill from riding a ferris wheel. We shrieked and laughed and marveled at the view.

I’m not sure if there ever was a trip in my whole life that I appreciated so much as the one to Portland. Before my diagnosis, before my treatment, I could not have dreamed of such a trip—three hours on the highway for starters, then lugging bags up and down stairs to the hotel room and walking around the city most of the day. But it was more than just another marker of how much stronger I am. The Poet and I both left Seattle crabby and burned out, and came home happy with ourselves and happy with each other, and it has lasted. With all due respect to Emily Dickinson, there is no frigate like the Honda Civic.

No comments: