Thursday, April 22, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, a girl planned a trip.  To be more precise, she planned to join a trip created by the Ultimate Trip Planners (UTPs).  Knowing that her only responsibilities were to pack correctly and show up at the WallyWorld parking lot at the appointed time, the months leading up to their departure were filled with obsessing about rolling suitcases vs traveling teams' soccer bags and old hiking poles vs new ones.  Should she take long sleeves or short sleeves and would shorts keep her warm enough if the Gila Wilderness proved to be colder than weather.com predicted?  Which hat - the purple polar fleece or the hand knit beanie with the pompom - would be the most fun to pull out should the need arise?  Did she really need sweat pants and pajama bottoms and stretchy athletic pants or could she truly "pack lightly" as the UTPs requested?  A sweatshirt or another layer of long-sleeves .... decisions, decisions, decisions.

As always, she began laying out the alternatives a few days before her departure.  Her closet floor was a maze of "maybe these" and "perhaps this" stacks and "for sure" piles.  New poles were purchased, as were 2 Camelback water bottles.  The fact that the 1 litre bottles fit in none of the holders on any of her day packs was annoying but not an insurmountable problem; there were 1 liter Smart Water bottles which fit quite nicely and contained the same amount of liquid.  Granted, the UTPs always trek with extra hydration for their hikers, but the girl liked to be self-sufficient.  The bigger Camelbacks fit nicely in her bike's water holder and in The Schnozz's cup holders so there was no waste.  She'd had a wonderful time comparing colors and shapes and brand names at the outfitter's, and that experience alone made her smile when she looked at the "not on this trip, at least" bottles sitting atop the reject pile.

Laundry was done, decisions were made, small cans of tuna fish (for lunches on the trails - she is not a big fan of the processed meats the UTPs were toting for the group) fit into nooks and crannies in the black soccer bag and, 30 hours before she was to depart, her planning and packing was complete.  Those who might have been expecting her at meetings during her travels had been informed that she'd be away.  CT was hired to maintain the rigid watering schedule her container plants required. The pod-castle was aware that she'd be gone, and G'ma was told (though how much she'd remember remained a mystery, even though the trip was scrawled across the relevant dates on all the calendars in her apartment).  She could spend her final day at home putting the finishing touches on her equipment.  The instruction booklet for the GPS slid nicely into a side pocket; Miss Marjorie planned to help her figure the damn thing out.  Carabiners hid in the outside zippered pocket of the soccer bag, ready to be called into use should a strap fail or a clasp crack.  Extra Kashi Bars.... wet wipes.... some more plastic bags....  she became convinced that she was all set.  Let the excitement begin.

Then life intervened.

Finishing up the last of the ground beef, she lit the BBQ and served hamburgers and home made fries for dinner.  After 2 bites, TBG's face turned an all-too-familiar shade of puce.  "How old is this meat?" was his last healthy sentence.  Writhing on the couch turned to puking into the gigantic I-used-to-be-the-6-loaves-of-bread-dough bowl from the side of the bed.  Sleep never happened; gastrointestinal distress continued, hour after hour after hour.  The morning brought no relief, nor did the afternoon nor the early evening.  Sundays are not the day to arrive by car at the Emergency Room, and his symptoms really didn't warrant an ambulance, and the quicker care arrival by siren ensures, and Urgent Care was never a consideration for reasons passing understanding and so he suffered and she served.  She toted.  She rubbed.  She cossetted.  She made jello and found popsicles (red and orange only.... does anyone want 15 purple ones?) and toasted toast and cleaned that damn big bowl all day long.  He was miserable and weak and not getting any better.

And she was supposed to leave for her trip.  She was packed.  She'd invested $16.95 in a map of the area.  She really really wanted to go.

But she couldn't.  Nope, there was no way to leave him at home, all on his own, when food wouldn't stay down and dizziness and exhaustion were the order of the day.  Nope, she had to make the phone call to the UTPs and forfeit her spot on the trip.  How to do that without feeling like a martyr?  He hadn't asked her to stay; he just kept hoping that he'd feel better.  But she knew, having seen this pattern before, that the course of the disease would run on its own timetable, oblivious to any plans she had made.

The UTP's told her to call at 6:30am on the day of departure; she'd been awake with him the entire night so that didn't feel like an early call at all.  The group left and she took TBG to the doctor, where medication was given and blood pressure taken and dehydration addressed and gradually, over the course of the next night, they both fell asleep.

It was a miracle.

He woke up on Tuesday and felt nearly human.  Did she want to try to catch up with her trip? The baggage was still sitting in the dining room, ready to be loaded into The Schnozz.  She had a map and an itinerary.  The B&B owner said that all the keys had been taken, but she was certain that there was a double room with only one traveler in which she could crash.  Then she looked at the map and saw that the 158 miles she'd thought reflected the entire journey was, in fact, only the middle piece.  The group was nearly 300 miles away, in places which have no names.  True: the B&B's location is "the intersection of routes 15 and 35".... there's not even a zip code on the web site.  She decided to stay home and enjoy the free week - no plans, no expectations, it could really be a joy.

She went to pilates but was 15 minutes late (misreading the schedule is never a good thing) and she didn't like the teacher anyway so she turned around and went home.  And that was a very smart decision because..... surprise... surprise...surprise.....

She's spent the better part of the day doing her own writhing-in-agony dance between the bed and the bathroom.  Sparing her Dear Readers the gory details, suffice it to say that this situation would not have been the ideal way to spend a 3 mile hike to the cave dwellings, nor listening to a lecture on the Mimbres culture.  She rarely gets sick, and when she does it lasts about 24 hours.  Sitting here during hour 19, watching the clock and willing the medication to calm her guts or put her to sleep, she types to distract herself.

There will be no pictures of New Mexico on the blog this month.  There will be no stories of tales shared around a communal table.  Silver City, the Cat Walk, Fort Bayard..... they will all have to wait until another time.

For now, the girl needs to sleep.

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