September 1, 2015

Bon Voyage

Today has been a long time coming, plain and simple.

A few months ago I decided it would be supremely cool if, for my 50th birthday (which just happens to fall on St. Patrick's Day,) I went overseas to celebrate actually in Ireland, because really, how many opportunities does one ever get to mark a half-century of life in the land of one's forebears--never mind on the ultimate Irish holiday (well, at least in America)?

The more I thought about it, the more exciting it sounded, particularly because it would offer me a change to go and learn more about my ancestry in the places where it began.  Didn't hurt that I've been hoarding frequent flyer miles for years for just such a trip.  Problem was, as with so much in life, there was always something else coming up to delay my journey.  First I had to wait till my house in Georgia sold.  Then April was crazy.  Then we were moving the girlie to New York for an internship.  Then I was painting all over the house in a desperate frenzy to get it finished and over with.  Then we were moving the girlie back from NY and then into her campus housing, and, and, and.

No doubt all these postponements would have continued indefinitely had I not needed to fit the trip in by mid-September or wait till next year rolled around, which would no longer make it the epic birthday trip it was intended to be.  What I ultimately realized is that you can't just wait till things are perfect...till you're ready.  If we waited till we were ready for something, we'd be waiting till the end of time, whether to have kids, to buy a car or a house, to take up fan dancing or naked Tetris, or to lose that last 20 lbs.  That's just not how life works--at least that's not how it usually works for me. 

So I purchased my ticket and prepared to set off even though I would not have a chance to lose the weight I gained back during the last year of stress and moving and chaos.  I would not have a chance to get back into a regular workout routine to guarantee that I'd have the stamina and energy to do all the walking I'd need to do.  I wouldn't have a chance to get as much prep or planning done in advance as I'd like because of juggling all the girlie's moving (never mind completing my painting).  Honestly, I might as well have been tossing around New Year's resolutions like Mardi Gras beads for all good my excuses were ever going to do in getting me to my goal.   Frankly, sometimes you just have to throw all the fears and concerns out the window and just go for it. 

Now I know what you're going to say--50 seems a little old to be gallivanting off to Europe to find oneself.  Perhaps it is. But it's only been a couple of years since I found my birth mother and so having access to my own genealogy is still a major novelty and one I could spend untold months traipsing around Europe exploring if only I could locate the pot of gold at the end of my St. Patrick's Day rainbow to fund it. But minor details.  Personally, I'm decided to place this little jaunt in the "better late than never" category and run with it.

As a result, I spent the last 48 hours running around like a chihuahua on speed trying to get everything done before flying out this evening.  I must have packed and repacked my carry-on bag 5 times in an effort to pare down my belongings to a more manageable quantity for my 14-day excursion.  No doubt I'll regret some of my choices, but it is what it is.  I was sorry to leave behind the spiffy new camera I got earlier this year, but I just couldn't justify finding room for the large padded bag when half my trip was going to involve spending time in dusty archives where I likely wouldn't be allowed to snap photos anyway.  But I did manage to acquire a small point and shoot camera to augment my iPhone camera as a compromise.  I mean, it's still England.  Pictures are not really optional.

This eyesore is really my own fault for joking that I needed to see a Pope bobblehead before he could visit Philly.

In a rare turn of events, I made it to the airport well ahead of time and even passed through security unmolested, in spite of the metal buttons on my shorts. Still, it's me, and that pretty much guarantees there's going to be a snag somewhere.  This time it was the security and assorted airport staff all insisting that my carry-on would have to be checked (even though it's never been a problem before) because it was 'too fat in front.'  Sigh.  I went over to some seating and yanked out the extra duffel bag I'd prepacked figuring I could rearrange my belongings so I could check the duffel if necessary while keeping the important stuff in my newly-compressed carry-on.  The baggage clerk at Delta told me it would be fine, but still made me shove consolidate my laptop bag inside the duffel so I would only have two items with me in the cabin.  Pre-security still got pissy with me about the bag, but I got the bag through the security scanners just fine and no one at the Delta gate even gave it a second glance.  Suck it, Security!  However, on my way to the gate I noticed the duffel bag was tearing at the strap and that I was likely minutes away from my laptop falling out and crashing to the floor.  Of course. So I went back to the main concourse to locate a replacement.  I found a tote with an obnoxiously large pink flower on it (because that's so my style) for around $50.  Airport extortion as usual, but still vastly preferable to spending a couple hundred bucks fora second carry-on bag.  Because karma has a brutal sense of humor, moments later I passed another shop with a duffel bag I'd originally missed hidden on a shelf for $20 less.  Naturally.  Regardless, the impending crisis was averted, so I guess that's all that really matters.

That can't be good.
Yeah...because I'm such a neon pink Hibiscus kind of girl.

Once at the gate I was held up by my passport, which it took them three tries to verify because I'd already checked in at home.  I can only assume they were going for the 'third time's a charm' motif.  I boarded and spent the next 30 minutes bobbing up and down like a fishing lure while my seatmates, two older ladies, kept needing to get up and dig through their luggage for one thing or another.  No sooner had everyone finally settled than an airline official came over with new tickets and informed the ladies that their seats were being changed to first class (without me!!) so they could keep a mother and child together.  So I got up again.  My fellow passengers were all trying to catch my eye to give me a WTF? look or the inevitable rolled eye.  And when exactly did all the transatlantic planes become so small?  The last time I flew to Europe there was a separate first, business, and coach class with 8 seats deployed across coach.  This plane only had the usual 6 seats across and didn't look big enough to go across the street, much less the ocean.  But I digress.

My new seatmates were a young mother with epic Scary Spice hair (of which I was wildly jealous) and her young daughter who had a cute British accent rendered in the deep, husky voice of an 80-year-old lifelong smoker.  She seemed pretty well-behaved though, so I had no complaints.

We settled in once again, only to be told that instead of leaving 10 minutes early as planned, we were going to be delayed while some potential mechanical problem was checked out...because that's just what you want to hear before spending several hours over an open ocean.  Ultimately it turned out to be nothing; I presume Penny just left her check engine light on again.  We finally took off around 7:15, nearly an hour late, but I was on my way overseas at last, some 6 months after my birthday.  But who cares--let the adventures begin!!

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