If you thought I had lost the blogging bug, I wouldn’t blame you. I’ve been scarce for the past 10 days, but I’m happy to announce that I didn’t lose interest in blogging. Nope. Not at all. Instead, I simply went on the worst trip in my lifetime.
Rachael and I went to Philadelphia last week. She needed to take an important test for her job, and figured it would be most comfortable in her hometown. I got to tag along for moral support and general gallivanting. Everything about it seemed perfect, but by the time we flew home Monday, I was half-expecting to see Michael Nutter flipping us off from the runway.
The problems began the night before our departing flight, when I felt achey. All of my my colds start this way. And they often start before trips or anticipated events — I’m not sure if this is an actual fact, or just a narrative I’ve strung together, but I mention it because none of what was happening to me was surprising. The travel day unfolded with increasing misery, but by the time we reached a comfortable bed, I wasn’t too hung up about it. I could kick the cold, and still make the most of the trip.
Thus, rather than meeting up with friends or cruising around town, I dedicated myself to getting better. I hunkered down in our hotel room with pillows and tea and pills. I stuck to a schedule. I wanted to be better by the time Rachael’s test was over, for then I could not only salvage half the trip, but we could salvage it together.
But when we woke up on Friday morning, ready to seize our obligation-free weekend, my voice was gone. And hilariously, our big plans to celebrate that evening involved a private karaoke room with friends.
Undeterred, I stepped up my game. I became a soup ninja. I doubled my tea intake. I gargled salt water. I downed honey straight from the hotel-issued packets. My body was feeling better, but my voice was betraying me. I went into radio silence for the final pre-karaoke hours., frustrating a wife who couldn’t make sense of my improvised sign language.
And it worked. My voice came back. We went to karaoke. And about two hours into the night, Rachael tripped and fell. We’d find out 12 hours later that she broke her foot. I woke up with my voice gone for good, sacrificed for the sake of three hours at karaoke (worth it!).
That Saturday night, our family visited us. Rachael stayed fixed to one chair, while I spent most of the time upstairs in bed, feeling a new misery wash over me. By the end of the night, I was gasping for breath after the simplest of tasks. Less than twelve hours later, we’d continue our tour of emergency rooms in the Delaware Valley. I was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia.
I could keep piling on. I haven’t yet mentioned that our dog, Neko, hurt herself before the trip, and is currently recovering from knee surgery at a nearby veterinary clinic. Her absence from the home this week has given me a lot of time to think about our trip, and how terrible it was. And it’s tempting to just think about everything bad that has happened, and allow it to make me even more miserable. And I’m not perfect: I’ve certainly succumbed to such thoughts.
But since moving to Kansas, I’ve made a very conscious effort to look for two sides to everything that’s happened to us. It would be too easy to dwell on that which we don’t want, and couldn’t choose. It’s far more difficult — but also more beneficial — to look for the hidden rewards.
There are so many things I wanted to do and people I wanted to see last week. And I hardly got to tick any of it off of my list. That’s a shame, and certainly not something to be happy about. But it certainly made it easy to come home to a place that’s hard to call home.
If every trip goes like this, I won’t be this pragmatic. But sometimes getting the double bird from your hometown is a good reminder that you can go home again, but you might break some bones and get a lung infection along the way.