Off I go

Steve is home, construction is progressing…it is time to flee.  

I went to Europe for the first time in 2004, annexing myself to my sister’s traveling cluster of friends. The tour was called “Italy at Leisure”. This week, I read a Janet’s Planet that I wrote prior to my departure, and not a lot has changed.  I am still a homebody, and I am very content in my nest.  In 2004, my trip was encouraged when my friend Bonnie’s husband died.  It seemed important to take a look at a world bigger than the 4 walls of grief she was residing within.  Off we went, criss crossing a wet and cold Italy.  I lost my glasses on Day 1, and saw very little until we arrived in Venice, where spare glasses arrived, with love and flowers from Steve.    The flowers classed up our room, but the mold and cold gave Bonnie and me both pneumonia.  It took 7-10 days of bedrest to recover.  We are doing a makeover tour, with abbreviated destinations.  With more leisure.  No Venice, no Florence, no Milan.  No pneumonia, we hope.

The Chicago branch of this tour includes my sister Judy and friend Alberta as well.  We will be blending with our Motor City counterparts, sisters Jenny and Marie, sister-in-law Marietta and 7 others. We are strafing Rome, then trundling down to the Amalfi coast for 5 days of sightseeing and eating.  Weather permitting, we will head over to Capri on a boat.  Then we bus back to Rome for a flight of 13.4 hours to Washington DC, connecting to home sweet home.We will not venture South to Sicily, or North to Cinque Terre. Another year……

The weather teases us with promises of sun and sixties.  My bags were packed for cooler, wetter possibilities…like the 10 days of 45 degrees with rain that we had last time.   I refuse to repack.  I have NEVER taken the right stuff.  I may as well be consistent. It will be a joy to sweat instead of shiver.  I announced that I was wearing all tunics so I could eat freely, and I was not kidding.  I am channeling Maude. 
It is hard for me to leave a home and husband I love.  I am not adventurous.  I miss my dogs and my bed when I am away.  I worry about airline connections and bedbugs and being felt up because I have a titanium knee.  I have studied the terminal layouts of Dulles, where we make our connection, to plot how we will spend our layover before the 11 hours in the back row of a 777.  I have packed an arsenal of Tylenol PM and similar relaxants, and I downloaded a couple of movies. I have my bookclub book in my I Pad, and it is like homework- it will surely put me to sleep. All of my misgivings will slide away when we are united in Rome.  That is why I downloaded Connie Francis, Vic Damone, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett as well as Mario Lanza and a bunch of opera.  Soon I will pretend that I am all about Italy.  SIng along with me….When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore….
If I get so overwrought the week before, why do I go?  To challenge my self limitations, I guess.  Mostly, I go because Jenny goes, and she always pushed me out of my shell. Without her, I would have taken different, smaller routes.  I would not have gotten brave enough that I could migrate to Chicago with Steve.  She counter programmed my timidity in the world. Sometimes it did not work out for her, like when Mom made me take dance lessons with her at age 5.  I was expelled for not knowing which was the left/right foot.  Mom pulled Jen out too, as a protest.  When we were teenagers, we took ballroom dance together, at the same place- the Borgo Sisters Dance School.  I was the immature sibling, irritating the emerging couples as they partnered up.  Jen got even- she paired me with a profusely sweating, chubby younger brother of her big crush.  He had a comic book in his pocket, danced worse than I, and tried to teach me about oral sex.  I was in 8th grade!  No one had the mercy to kick me out, and I still messed up my right and left feet.  
Jen sort of watched over me all the way through life- not that she is intrepid and worldly- just that I am wimpy and wobbly.  So Mom made her take care of me. Every shift in life was made easier because she had done it before me.  When I was forced to go to overnight camp, she had to tuck me in at first because I was homesick;  later she had to visit me in the infirmary where I was hysterical because the hay ride had given me asthma.  She calmed me with her maternal vibe.  I followed her all the way to college, where I was again overwhelmed with homesickness.  She opened her giant social network to me, and to my Mom’s relief, I decided to stick it out at CMU. Tomorrow, a group of these girls- logging 40 years of friendship- will be on the way to Rome.  I go through life like tumbleweed, and Jenny goes through like a burr.  Everyone she meets sticks to her.  I stuck first.  I’m sure she’d love to pry me loose sometimes.  Not a chance.  
I cannot thank her enough for opening this circle to me and my friends.  That 5 Joliats will throw coins into the Trevi fountain, eat gelato and pay respects to the Vatican would please our parents.  This time I will have the glasses required to appreciate the Pope in the Box- John Paul 23, (my favorite Pope so far) encased in a viewing coffin.  Only in Rome, I swear. These are all fun and funny women, and we travel without drama.  It is not deluxe, but it is not hosteling. 
 If there is a God, (and the richness of St. Peter’s makes me hope there is some kind of King), my new knee will be cooperative and sturdy.  I will not fall.  I will not buy pottery.  I will find something in the Vatican gift shop for the Pope to bless which weighs mere ounces.  I will not be enticing to gypsies as I was on my last trip.  (I fell for the buggy full of puppies trick- but a cop called me over and told me I was an idiot.  I was.  Every puppy was 100% different.  Litter, my ass) I will not over consume bad wine until my cheeks are aflame with sulfites. (really, I might) I will return with stories, memories, and a little more wanderlust. Again, no pottery.  
 I am still growing.  And I am still tagging along with my big (now WAY smaller than I) sis.  It is a blessing and a comfort. I know I am lucky, and I thank Steve for being so chipper about his impending bachelorhood.  I’ll take you to Rome someday, promise.  Wait till you see the puppies…..when the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore…
For now, ciao.  I will try to post, but I am a compu-idiot, and I am just taking an ipad…not the best tool for the movable type format.  I may use my phone’s wifi to post pictures at Facebook, so friend me- Janet Dahl- and then you can come along for my ride.  If I don’t even manage to do that properly- I will publish some highlights when I return. 
Until we meet again- arrivederci, Chicago. 

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