And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Friday was the longgggg day of travel. I do it the most difficult way and almost destroyed my shoulder this time.
I caught a taxi to the train station because the possibility of me experiencing a Mr Bean-like incident is high. Once, while rushing to Genova’s Brignole Station through the rain, I slipped and bent my knee in a way I hadn’t bent it in a long time. Lying on the ground, pre-pain, I remember considering the possibility of hospital and not having to leave the city I loved however, a lovely man helped me up and I realised that the bone-crushing bend had actually freed my rather stiff knee up. Bizarre but true.
My train platform lacked both elevator and escalator access. I looked at my bags ... one 23kg suitcase, one 7kg+ equipment bag, and considered weeping. Needs must, and so I picked them up and began the climb. There was a beautiful young man at the top of the stairs, watching me, resplendent in his Milan clothes. I reached the top, looked at him, and said OHMYGOD! and laughed because what else can you do when you’re not sure you can survive that kind of ‘lift and climb’ scenario. I wandered off to a spot in the sun to see what was going to happen. It seemed I was to survive but for the odd achey muscley bits.
Then it was almost 2 hours on the train to Milan, first class ... because it was just 6 euro more, and so worth it. And almost another hour on the train to the airport and yes, that was me, 2 hours early for the earliest check-in. I still have a mild cough thing going and I was so tired, I just wanted to make sure I got home…
So they sent me away with my suitcase, my much-hated suitcase by that point in time, and I found a quiet spot where I could buy some pasta and tomato, and drink a glass of red wine. My usb modem was still working and so I worked a while but, really, I just wanted to get rid of the suitcase, buy a book, and get through security.
Evening, on the plane and I bought one of those tiny bottles of airplane Merlot, twitching my nose a little over the fact it wasn’t the Chianti I had come to love.
It was really bad. I sipped but couldn’t drink it. The air hostess noticed I hadn’t finished it when I returned it to her and offered to pop up the front and replace it with something nicer. And she did! I’m still smiling over that.
Home, suitcase battered but ahah! I had encased it in plastic wrap to avoid the usual suitcase breakage I experience on reaching Brussels. Well ... I got it home only to discover that they had had their dastardly way with it and that the lock was broken and had jammed closed. Dank u wel, Brussels airport. Another suitcase story to add to the growing collection titled ‘Horrible Things That Have Happened to My Suitcase at Brussels Airport’. This was its final journey. God only knows what I’ll replace it with, probably titanium or some other unbreakable material.
On the bright side my suitcase on one of the first off the conveyor belt. I looked at the time, I had about 6 minutes to reach the hourly bus to Antwerpen. I sprinted through the ‘anythingtodeclare’ section thinking that perhaps that wasn’t the best look when toting a plastic encased suitcase. I ran, jogged, walked briskly and arrived, a dishevelled panting heap with about 2 minutes to spare. The driver told me to calm down, that he’d wait, and he laughed.
Gert met me in the city and, he too, experienced a small destruction to his body on taking my suitcase the rest of the way home and voila, I was home by 10.30pm ... to the most delicious guests. Ashley, last seen when she was 10 and I was living in New Zealand, daughter of one my favourite friends in the world, was staying over with her lovely Australian friend Beck. Our place had been their Belgian base for 2 weeks. It was good to catch up on the years that had passed ... although how lucid I was is debatable.
The next day, Paola, Simon and Matteo arrived, fleeing their home renvoations, and the quiet party kicked off. It was more of a talking and eating and lounging around time together. Persian chicken for dinner, with Paola’s delicious Limoncello Tiramisu for dessert ... and red wine. We were trying to find a Chianti replacement for the Banfi I came to love in Genova.
Well, that’s what I was doing. Maybe the others weren’t quite so interested in that particular search and, in fact, Gert had a Belgian beer.
Sunday came, Paola and Simon left after lunch. Beck’s and Ashley started packing ... Beck was heading for Spain on the 5am airport bus, and Ashley’s flies out of Paris tonight, heading for New Zealand. Jessie and little Miss 7 arrived and I did an impromptu photo shoot of the girls. Dinner ... what was dinner? Oh yes, it was the one where we introduced the girls to rabbit cooked the Belgian way ... in tons of beer, with sultanas and all kinds of yummy things. They weren’t quite convinced despite me promising we were only eating the naughtiest rabbits. Beck finally decided it would have been better not to know which creature we were consuming. (Note: that didn’t work with Jessie. I may have led her to believe she was eating chicken once ... when it was rabbit. I wouldn’t do that again. She was veryvery cross with me.)
We heard the taxi leave this morning for the airport bus stop around 4.30am. I went with Ashley to the train later. I’m home now. Sunshine on my back, an empty house. Good music playing.
So I’m back from Italy and now ... to work on that book.