I am so very bad at the days before flying. It doesn't help at all that, at 18, I misremembered the dates for a trip home from England, ensuring that both my younger sister and I missed our flights. A lifetime legacy of travel anxiety.
Nor has it helped that I lost my ($5000) hearing aids in the back-and-forth from island to city to island last week. I do have loss warranty coverage ($300 fitting few per ear, much better than $5K!), but following French conversations is going to be even tougher. And I worry about irritating my family, during our Italian week, with my constant requests for repetition.
I suspect what bothers me most about the loss is that all the systems I've put into place failed me. I only have certain places I put them down, for example, even if I'm tired. I almost always put them in their case overnight. I carry the case around in my purse to pop them in, so they're safe even when not in my ears. The chances of both falling out of my ears while I'm out and about, with my not noticing? Infinitesimal. And yet. ..
So the systems that are supposed to yield me control over possible chaos have revealed some weakness. right before a trip that includes several, flights, a few train journeys, many different beds, and a foreign language or two.
I also provided an old code for the bank wire sent off last week. The European landlord responded very reassuringly to my panicked email. The new code has only been in place for a month, is only different by 3 place-holding X's, and the monies will certainly come to roost in the proper nest. But meanwhile, oh the grist for this anxiety mill.
And the minor inconvenience of our Tate Matisse tickets not arriving in the mail before we left. My husband reassures me that if our receipt doesn't get us past the box office, we'll just line up as we've always done before. If I wail back at him that It might be sold out, he raises his eyebrows, shrugs, and something about his demeanour seems to query whether this catastrophe would be on a par with, say, serious illness or a lost job or a flooded home. Big mistake, though, to try to reason with pre-travel anxiety.
Yesterday I had a big meltdown. Hours of tears, a mood between anxiety and depressing. Luckily, it didn't hit hard until we'd taken a son, daughter, and a granddaughter out to have lunch with their grandmother. Luckily, I didn't have anything else on the afternoon schedule other than the tears, so I simply felt miserable for a few hours, then finished packing and ate sushi and felt miserable some more. And then got a good night's sleep and things are looking better. I'm heading out for a run, chasing endorphins...
When I get back, we're meeting a daughter who will miss out on our meet-up in Italy in favour of gestating here at home. I'll be doing my best not to do the tears again (leaving her behind, pregnancy and all, good for emotional highs and lows, y'know?)
Then a last bit of packing and we'll head to the airport. Once we've checked in and we're waiting down by the boarding gate, there may be one more wee attack of tears. I find waiting here evokes memories of so many flights and carries the impulse to phone my mom to say good-bye and let her know where we're headed, chat a bit about her travels right Europe with my Dad. And she's no longer on the other end of the phone . . .
But eventually, we'll line up, show our passports, file down the plane's narrow aisles, heft our bags into those overhead compartments, and settle into our seats. And while I may grip the armrests more tightly as we accelerate into the air, that's generally the moment when I begin to relax and enjoy the adventure. . . Only 11 hours from now. . Countdown!