Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Our Trip to Europe: On Traveling

I’m not really much of a traveler.

Well, that’s not strictly true, I suppose.  I enjoy being other places – visiting friends in far-off lands, walking around new cities and generally being amazed at the fact that I am so far from home.  And the actual traveling part of traveling doesn’t bother me much.  I have lived in the midwest far too long to be fazed by the prospect of half a day in a car, for example, and flying is still fun to me.  I enjoy the take-offs and landings, and the long stretches of being Very High Up Indeed still kind of intrigue me.  Granted, the airlines and the various purveyors of security theater in political office have done pretty much everything in their power to rob flying of any kind of actual enjoyment – I’m old enough to remember when people got dressed up a bit to fly rather than strip searched, for example, and every time I get on a plane the seats have gotten narrower and closer together while I have gotten wider and less interested in such closeness with strangers – but they haven’t quite succeeded.

No, traveling is fine.  It’s the Getting To The Point Of Traveling part that kills me.

Dealing with the infinite permutations of ticket-purchasing, meaningless security rituals, baggage limitations, airlines selling seats on other airlines so many times that you have no idea with whom you are actually flying anymore (thanks, FinnAir!), and the countless options for where to park your car all make me break out in hives.  Getting to the airport is worse – I’m one of those people who prefers to wait where I need to be so I’m perfectly happy arriving at my gate two hours ahead of time (or more) while in Kim’s ideal world she’d slide onto the plane just as the walkway was being removed, a combination that does not work out well for anyone.  And connecting flights?  Just an invitation to anxiety as far as I am concerned.  I suppose I’m not really much fun for anyone to travel with, but there it is.

And yet, I spent the last few weeks doing all of those things, and it worked out pretty well.

We ended up with something of a minor windfall at the beginning of the summer.  It turned out that Kim had not been paid for a year’s worth of overload work and it all came to us in one big unbudgeted-for check.  And we thought, what to do with this?

It’s been six years since we crossed the Atlantic to visit our friends in Sweden and England.  They’ve all been here to see us since then.  We now have new friends – family, really – in Belgium.  Tabitha is leaving for college this week, so we have no idea when the next time we might easily have everyone together in one place would be.  It seemed like an easy call.

So we went.

We had a wonderful time. 

We visited.  We shared food and good times.  We went all over and back again.  We stayed with good people who took wonderfully good care of us.  It is a privilege to be able to do these things, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

To Roeland, Veerle, Fran, Niels, and Lien in Belgium –

To Mats, Sara, Maria, David, and Helena in Sweden (whom I could never quite get all in one photo) –

And to Richard, Magnus, and Ginny in England –

Thank you.

Thank you for taking us in and making us welcome.  Thank you for taking such good care of us.  Thank you for showing us around your countries and making us understand – for the first time or once again – how beautiful they are and how good people are all around us.

It’s your turn to visit now, and we look forward to returning the favor whenever you arrive.

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