Monday, May 14, 2018

Just Trying to Get There

"Travel is a fantastic self-development tool because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function."

"The exposure of different cultural values forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and consider that perhaps it’s not the best way to live."

"Appearances and salesmanship have become more advantageous than trust. Knowing a lot of people superficially is considered more beneficial than knowing a few people closely. Conflict exists to show us who is there for us unconditionally and who is the for the benefits."

These are all quotes I scribbled from the book, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. I was sitting in the hospital with my mother, who became ill 2 days before our trip to London and the South of France. I was reading the kindle, trying to pass the time away, while Mom was poked and prodded to ascertain just what the hell was wrong with her.

Trip insurance is always purchased because of the Momalah’s– his and mine. At 86 and 91 years old, it’s imperative. 12 hours prior to our departure, we were ready to throw the in towel and stay home. Trying desperately not to give a fuck. Lee was admitted to the place we jokingly call “the hospital” in Vero from their "rotunda of death".

Because she has expressive aphasia and because of the reputation of “the Hospital,” she did not need to be on her own lest they kill her with care. She needed an advocate by her side. I hope everyone out there appreciates how almost all hospitals can make you sicker if you don’t use caution and question everyone and everything. 

This time she was fortunate. I knew from past experience, she had diverticulitis long before the tests were complete and the multiple iv sticks and cat scans and x-rays were done. 5 hours later in the ED and the verdict was diverticulitis.  No shit. Afterwards came the admission and a hospitalist who didn’t want to listen to my history regarding my mother. I have a long bitchy story and no one wants to hear it.

So, what may you ask, does this have to do with giving zero fucks? It is because I knew she would get better. It’s because I knew she would be released within a day of our scheduled departure but most importantly, it was because I know who is there for me unconditionally and not for the benefits. 

Cathy was there to get her thru the discharge process and get her ensconced at home with plenty of applesauce. Rita was there to visit once or twice weekly.  Prima was there when I called her and told her I needed for her to feel sorry for me. (No pep talks please!!! I wanted “this sucks” – yay). My sister in law and niece were on their way to be with her after her discharge. I can count my real friends on my right hand. Without my right-hand friends, the trip would have been a wash. We would have recouped our money but would have lost the experience. I still believe Mom’s out come would not have been different if we stayed.

As I coordinated the motherships arrival to her home, Hershel picked up the last pieces of our trip; starting with a 2-hour delay of our flight from Orlando. London had had 4 months rain in one day, delaying flights across the board.  While waiting on our flight and digesting a fabulous Indian meal from Taste of India. (Melbourne on Wickham Road)

We met a lovely couple from Scotland, who were on the same flight to London.. I do not remember their names, so I will take license and call them Ewan and Maggie. They had been on a music tour of Nashville and Memphis ending up with a relaxing week at a Disney resort. Maggie confided in us that as a teenager she had her hair done just like Elvis’. Dyed it black and got the bad-boy, duck cut. Her mother was horrified in 1960’s of her daughters’ choice, but Elvis was her man and remains her man. She was on a pilgrimage of sorts – Americana Music and Graceland. Maggie knew “Mystery Train” by Jim Jarmousch. But the sweetest, most touching story they told was of their relationship. Not married, they had been traveling together for 12 years. Ewan was divorced. Maggie husband had died. 12 years ago, Maggie’s daughter helped her explore the internet and enrolled her on a sight called “Find Friends’. It was a way to reconnect with others who you would have gone to school with. The first person to pop up to connect was Ewan. They had dated when they were in high school and lost contact after university. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

The flight was uneventful and we were lucky enough to have a 3-seater to ourselves. In addition, and for added flavor, the flight had 25 French Cheerleaders who had been in competition in Orlando.

Immigration in London was lengthy. We underwent the longest, most detailed yet friendliest entry questioning we have experienced in all our travels. Once thru, it was easy to find the Gatwick/Victoria Express – leaving Gatwick every 15 minutes. We made it to the train, but the doors had just closed. Damn, so close. A lovely local said, “let me help” and simply pressed a button on the door and it opened. Tater-heads that we are, would have just stood there forever, I guess.

Arriving in London proper, we stopped for a cappuccino at “Pret a Manger”
a chain that specializes in organic, free-range coffees and lite meals. Refreshed and caffeinated, we treated ourselves to a taxi ride to the hotel. About the same price as an Uber. All London Taxi’s are handicap accessible.  Our driver was a delightful young man, who was originally from London and on his way to Memphis and Nashville in 2 weeks! I gave him the name of Gus’ Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis,
which could be easily overlooked while visiting there. 

He returned the favor by giving us the name of the most famous Fish and Chips restaurant in London, Rock and Sole Plaice  
Fortuitous no?
with the rat-bastard/google overlord, Thangov Weasel. The Granger is a much nicer establishment than we would normally pick (or afford). Central to everything one wants to see in London, close to an Underground Station.
People keep telling us how lucky we are to be in London, right now. Best weather in months. It’s sunny and warm *for England. This just means I only need a light jacket.
We meet Thangov on his break from being a Google overlord and have more coffee at Café Nero.

He is attending a work function tonight but directs us to great pub food at Cittie of York, a few blocks walk away from Hotel Granger. 

It has been a pub of some sorts, since 1490. I love that in the afternoon the pubs are packed!!! Today, everyone has taken their drinks outside to enjoy the weather. As we walk thru the alleyways we hear loud and boisterous happy-hour patrons. It’s a delight. In a city where there is massive public transportation, it’s okeydokey to get a little pissed before going home. 
We are at the York for the pies. Not sweet pies; pies of meat. Crusty pastry full of meat. The bar is packed. The building is outrageous. It is ubiquitous. It was renovated in 1920 and I don’t think the top shelves have been dusted since.

Harvey has the chicken, leek and ham pie. It comes with an au jour. It is my concept of traditional English food in a pie form. Tragically there were no scotch eggs on the menu. I have 2 more days to track one down.

We wander home, down groovy little side streets, always listening for the din of happy Londoners downing a pint, smoking their ciggies and enjoying a warm afternoon. We pass thru private gardens (the sign says it ok to pass thru) during our quest of meandering back to The Granger. I can’t read a map, but I have a great sense of direction and am very observant. Without google or a physical map, we somehow wind up exactly where we want to be.
Then bed!!!!

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