I had a poster when I was in high school that read,
“A bird can soar because he takes himself lightly.”
That is spiritually true of course, but for the past few weeks I have been adapting it to read,
“A bird can soar because she travels lightly.”
Five days from now I will board a bus here in Concord, to ride to Boston, to get on a non-stop flight to London, to be greeted by a woman I have never met before. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Not really. In this era of Facebook Live, Skype, and all the other ways to teleconference, it is possible to develop truly deep friendships with strangers who become friends. All you need is a special interest in common. Such is the case with Judy and me.
One curious aspect of this pending adventure is that we are both loners, both introverts. We can happily survive longer than most folks with minimal human contact. The good news is since we are wired the same way, I suspect we will get along just fine. I picture hours together, walking, drawing, sketching, and smiling as we call it a day in unison.
So what happened in the first place to trigger this international rendezvous? It started as a joke really, as so many wonderful things do. Judy and I have been online friends for over a year, and have often kidded about my popping over for afternoon tea (I live in New England, she lives in the-real-deal England. She lives in Hampshire, I live in New Hampshire.) One day while chatting back in March I mused again about visiting Judy. My mind was torn: I knew for certain I couldn’t afford it, but at the same time I was aware that I may very well run out of eyesight before I run out of money. Finally I told Judy, “I know how to knock this foolish notion out of my head. When we’re done talking, I will look up the current round trip airfares, and that will straighten me out.”
So I did. I looked, and could not believe it. The fare was about half of what I had ever paid before, and it was non-stop, a luxury I had never been able to afford. I emailed Judy, asking her to set aside her British politeness for a moment to really and truly tell me if she was serious about having an American visitor in May. The airfares were ridiculously low, and a B&B near her house was manageable if I didn’t stay too long. She convinced me she meant it, so I booked the flight and hotel, and thus was able to happily dance through the cold drudgery of March and April in New Hampshire.
Of course I am mostly packed already. For me nine days total means packing just one undersized carry-on bag and one very small backpack purse, no checked luggage that could get lost in the shuffle. Traveling light is a real art form; Intermittent Travelers like me have to be reminded over and over again, “I am not going to a Third World Country!” I know they have band-aids in England (even if they are called plasters). When I look at the ratty, worn-out band-aid I carry in the little sundries bag in my purse, I see I can easily take the Boy Scout Motto too far.
Here are some of my proud decisions:
Electronics: I need my smart phone and the related cable. No tablet, no laptop. The TSA needs to find me utterly boring.
Mobility: Having lost more eyesight but wanting to stay as fit as possible, I have started using trekking poles whenever I go for a real walk (anything beyond a stroll to my cafe at the end of the block). As anyone knows who has tried closing their eyes during Tree Pose in yoga class, your eyesight contributes a great deal to your ability to balance. These wonderful Montem poles (link here ) fold up to be very compact, are light-weight and sturdy, and help me not only with balance but also to determine step height, another challenge with monocular vision. Uneven trails are no longer impossible for me to navigate.
Clothing, etc.: Slave to fashion I am not, and I learned long ago that a dull, minimal wardrobe can be disguised by packing a selection of colorful silk scarves and a pashmina. Eight days there plus two travel days means a little hand laundry, but not much. Socks and undergarments all packed. Dopp kit of dry items all packed, and “wet bag” half-packed and set aside for last minute items like eye drops. Shirts and slacks will be packed the night before, but are set aside already. Rain gear packed, but lace-up waterproof boots, too bulky to pack, will have to be worn on the plane, TSA inconvenience be damned.
So all settled, right? Of course not! What is by far the hardest packing decision of all, the place where my self control is most at risk? My Art Supplies List, of course! No socks? No problem. Forgot the umbrella? Who cares. But wrong flat brush and not enough Ultramarine Blue? International crisis!
Here is what The Kit looks like at the moment:
And a final note…
For some time I have wanted to answer a reasonable question that may be hanging in the air, but has never been asked of me. The question is:
“I thought you were going blind, how can you still draw and paint? Why do you bother if it is so hard?”
How? With difficulty. Why? Because it is the thing that gives me more pleasure than anything else in life, including chocolate.
Life is good, except for our thinking. I hope you too can discover your life passion, and if you have done so already, congratulations!
Thanks for stopping by. England sketches to follow… 🙂