Most of my world knows you do not call me before ten in the morning unless you are bleeding or you have a source for free chocolate containing zero calories. But lo and behold, last Friday morning I received a phone call from my own husband at 8am. Granted, he was on the East Coast and in the middle of his day. Giving him credit for his occasional absent-mindedness, it was still a bit startling to hear his voice.
It is hard enough to discern a sleep-interrupted phone call when not taking drugs. Ambien does its job and takes me away to a deep and relaxing sleep. Awakened from that state, I had less than five minutes to make a decision about traveling to Norway in the next 5 days. There really was no answer but yes, right? This trip was a gracious gift by a valuable client of John’s. They asked John to attend some significant meetings occurring over a two-week period, including the Mother’s Day weekend. John told them he would if he could bring me. They did not hesitate to say yes. And, the client houses John in a company owned hotel, so even that cost was eliminated. Woo Hoo!
Two hours later I awakened “for real,” questioning my state of panic! I remembered the conversation. At least that’s a good thing. I’ve heard many horror stories where people are doing all sorts of things in the middle of the night while taking Ambien and not remembering it. At least I wasn’t wiping cool whip off my mouth during the panic attack. That would be a true Ambien moment. Saying yes to the trip over the pond was a significant enough decision to be making in haste without the added drug stupor, but this opportunity came at a time in life where our life is scattered and a bit complicated. Trust me, you don’t really want to hear about it – although, knowing me, you will hear about it sometime! I guess I felt I needed to justify the luxury. That’s it in a nutshell. With so many other obligations to fulfill right now, a trip to Europe was something I thought only feasible through a win on Wheel of Fortune. But the price tag was not mine to pay, so now what was my reasoning? Once I’d had my two cups of extra bold French Roast gut-rot, my mind cleared and I realized the true reason behind my hesitance and panic. I was going to have to depend on my darling husband (read – good ‘ol farm boy from Ohio) for fashion and packing advice! (Enter heart palpitations, flushing, rapid pulse and shallow breathing!) Oh good, I’m still breathing! After stripping and running through the house screaming like a Viking I settled into the fact that I had a scant week to figure out what to wear, what to pack and how to pull a few rabbits out of the hat that wouldn’t fit in my one allotted bag.
I’m reasonable, (no judging here!!) and quite possibly mature enough (do not laugh here) to realize that I do not have to wrangle up a new wardrobe to visit a country known for its casual approach to life. But I also know that I have surfed through winter this year with a handful of clothes that fit. Last year, I was losing enough weight in the spring and summer that I tossed all my winter clothes out, believing I would be ready for the next size down come winter 2015. It is a smart move when you know you are going to continue to lose weight. But I didn’t. I stagnated and for the first time in 5 years, put on 10 pounds over the holiday. It has taken me 4 months to lose that and I am still not comfortable enough to wear the next size down. I happen to know that the fat person in Norway is rare. (A fact that was confirmed at the airport.) I need a moving van to hold two weeks of winter clothing, but the Norwegian needs a backpack or maybe two. I need a small carry-on for my gloves and scarves.
My next panic attack occurred two days later when we put an offer on a house in California to commence the beginning of our soon to be two-year residency in California and the selling of our two properties in the Davis area – our retirement investments. Now, shouldn’t this be where the real panic would start? I mean, I am concerned about leaving things in the air, but it is second to the real issue. My anxiety lay in the fact that the moment was coming when I would limp into what’s supposed to be a walk-in closet, get down to skivvies and try anything on that could possibly fit and use any trick that could magically fit those giant winter clothes into 1 bag. How much do I hate this? Well, this much – I cleaned and sorted drawers, I sorted toiletries, I did HOUSEWORK instead of just getting my arse into the closet to make some decisions where the fun began. Martin Luther has nothing on me when it comes to masochistic performances. I placed my lily white, hairy-legged body in front of a full-length mirror and began the elimination process. To my delight, I had actually lost enough weight to fit into some of those next-size-down clothes, but seriously, did I really want to appear as John’s arm candy in my Bi-Mart plaid work shirts and my “Love it in Lincoln City” sweatshirts? Aacck! You must know, John actually asked, “What’s wrong with that?
I eventually caved in and decided to go as me, i.e. a few clothes I’d choose to wear to church and most of what I’d wear around town. The first two days post-arrival, I was feeling excellent about my choices. And then it happened. The weather in Europe turned upside down. Who would have known that the 45-50 degree days would suddenly shoot up to 73-80? -- More on that later.
And all those other reasons to be panicked? They are legitimate and life-changing, but we live in the electronic age with international cell phone plans, electronic signatures and Social Media to keep us as close to business as we are in our rural town of Otis. John and I are pretty adaptable despite the 9.5 hour difference. It is, indeed, a timing fiasco when we a have business calls as early as 7am - Norway time and as late as 9pm - Oregon time.
But we are boomers melding our way with the millennial way. Stay calm, peace out and fake it ‘til you make it. It occurs to me that many of my concerns are nothing my children would worry about. They have adapted to the electronic age better than we have. I believe I was on the cutting edge, when in 1983 I learned “the computer.” I not only learned on one of the 1st personal PC’s, I was teaching others how to paper-train their lives by 1984. But, I still have a printer, I still have a fax machine and I still have a land-line. They are all security blankets and yes, my kids will find, safely locked up, all those CD-Roms and DVD’s and a few of those new-fangled flash drives full of my most important life events.
I don’t intuitively know or feel that I am a button-click away from someone from so far away. This trip has helped me with that process, although I did text my good friend and hairdresser to make an appointment at 2am her time. Good thing she loves me anyway!!!
So, I stepped out in adventure and said yes to an experience that was only a dream on a bucket list. I put away my list of “what-if’s,” and “should do’s” and embraced this generous gift.
And, the greatest gift? It may be a rumor, but I don’t think I have to shave my legs.