Hello from the Other Side (of the Atlantic)
Goodness me, it has been quite some time since I last wrote. I was busy gearing up for my first overseas trip to Amsterdam and Germany.
But first, a story. When I was in fifth grade, I went on my first overnight school trip. We went to a place called PEEC in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. I forget how long we were there for, but it was at least a couple of nights.
I have always been a homebody. Even when I would sleep over at my friend’s house next door, I would look out the window at my house and feel homesick. If I hadn’t been so afraid of the dark I would have made the trek across our yards so I could be in my own home with mommy and daddy and sleeping right down the hall.
So naturally I was really nervous to go to PEEC. I had a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach and I wanted to cry and tell my mom I was sick and I should stay home instead. There’s a possibility that I actually DID do that, but clearly she did not fall for it.
My friend Jessica’s mom came and picked me up on the big day. She drove us to our school, where there were two big charter busses waiting. Jessica was excited. I was wondering if I could hightail it across the soccer field and make it to the cover of the woods before anyone noticed. How long would it take me to get home if I walked the whole way?
We put our stuff into the luggage compartment of the bus. As we did so, I realized that I’d forgotten my pillow. That was the final straw. I burst into tears. I was not going to survive this trip without my pillow! There wasn’t time for us to go back to the house and get it. What would I do?
Jessica talked me down from the hysteria. She pointed out that she would not enjoy the trip if I didn’t come. She told me I was one of her best friends and that she needed me to be there with her. She also pointed out that I could use my stuffed Shamu as a pillow. (Yes, I had remembered to grab an enormous stuffed killer whale before I left the house, but not my pillow.) She promised we would have fun.
And she was right. Once the bus pulled away from the school and the waving parents beside their minivans disappeared over the horizon, I began to feel better. I ended up having a blast and whenever I think back to those days I recall the PEEC trip so fondly. It was the highlight of fifth grade.
Why am I sharing this, you ask? Well, all these years later I still struggle with that same feeling of dread when approaching a trip. Even if it’s a trip I actually want to take.
I am still a homebody. I could easily stay at home for an entire week and not feel restless whatsoever. I love being home. Sometimes, I need to stop at the store on the way home from work to pick something up, but mid-drive I will decide that I’d rather just go home.
Of course I do enjoy traveling. I want to see different parts of the world and experience different cultures. It all sounds interesting and fun until it comes time to pack the suitcase and begin the journey.
One of the other things that stresses me out about traveling is making sure I have all my accoutrements, as I like to call them. Pretty much the most important items on my list are: eye drops, eye lube for bedtime, eye scrub, toothbrush and floss, mouthwash and lotion. If I ever forgot any of those, I would break down. And no Shamu pillow would help.
Last week I was feeling a bit irritated about EEC and how it means I have to carry a bunch of extra crap (see above list), and if I don’t, my eyes will flare up and make me look horrible. I was also fretting about how my eyes would hold up during the flight. It is an overnight flight, but the night is shortened by the fact that Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead of us, so by the time you get there it is early morning.
Fortunately, with some forethought and planning I was able to manage. I brought my eye lube with me on the plane, and when I was ready to attempt to sleep, I went to the bathroom and put the lube in my eyes. When I got back to my seat I put on the eye mask that Dave got for me. It’s a really nice one. It has a layer of foam in it so it’s really soft, and then there are indents where your eyeballs go, so the mask is not pressing on your eyelids. It’s so comfy.
I put the mask on and attempted to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep for various reasons, but my eyes were still loving the rest. It felt like my eyeballs were sleeping without me.
When we were about to land, I put some eye drops in and wiped away the extra lube with a tissue. My eyes were still more tired than they would have been on a full nights sleep, but they felt better than they would have if I had not used the lube and the mask. Of course I was also putting eye drops in like nobody’s business all day. But it really helped keep my eyes going.
Anyway- so I was in Amsterdam yesterday and then we took the train down to Dusseldorf, which is where I am now. I wanted to write about all my observations of Amsterdam and Germany so far, but now I am tired. I should get to sleep soon because our meetings start tomorrow.
I’ll try to write again soon and talk about the actual trip, not how I kept my eyes moist the whole time.