I think I have covered all eventualities: the big one could strike Los Angeles, a brush fire could ignite the house, Ottie, my boxer and love of my life, could drop dead, one of the aging parents could get suddenly sick…need I go on? What is it about long distance trips that trigger my catastrophe gene?!
There was a time, not that many eons ago, when I used to travel to the other end of the earth with no means of staying connected to my family – a phone call midway through the vacation, from some landline phone (or satellite – the only phone on the Galapagos Islands, run by a bank) to let my mother know I was alive and well.
I used to relish the disconnection – being truly immersed in unfamiliar territory, with only rudimentary knowledge of the local language, my quick wit and my best friend as navigational instruments. Even the occasional snafus were part of the unwinding process. Being away meant being away, in a byronian sort of way, away from the job, the routine, the commute, the boyfriend du jour, life as I knew it.
It was a time when Ikea didn’t rule the designing standards, McDonalds were not tailored to local meats and religions and coffee wasn’t always drinkable – sugar cubes that would refuse to melt in Russia, condensed milk in my coffee in Mexico, ice cubes that sent you running to the toilet in a matter of minutes anywhere in Latin America, frozen shrimp, night after night in Jamaica, it was all par for the course, more often than not dotted by culinary treasures that will stay with me forever.
The fresh out of the blackened oven bread in the Sinai desert, where a little man covered in soot made it fresh every morning, despite the 100 degree heat, the handmade fettuccine some crazy Italian cooked for us atop a mountain in the Galapagos, a freshly caught and roasted fish under the stars in the Yucatan, outside the garage where my friend and I were slated to spend the night for lack of other available lodgings, the jerk chicken in Port Antonio devoured sitting on the pavement.
Now I am about to leave and I left every possible phone number to the caretaker, anyone can reach me (and probably will) on my cellphone and here I am, sitting at LAX, typing on my laptop that I simply refused to leave at home.
Speaking of LAX, in the 12 years I have lived here, no improvements have been made to this diabolical airport that dares calling itself “international”. The food is inedible, the book selection offensive, the space for the lounge deprived traveller inhospitable. I am sort of looking forward to landing at Schiphol.
So here I go, on another adventure – still connected to whatever roots have by now grown here but with the same sense of wonder at acquiring another lifelong memory that life at home wouldn’t have afforded me.