Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Embarkation

My body is still adjusting to being back in America. I taught pilates last night until 8 and promptly hit the sack at 9:20, only to awaken at 4 all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with one goal in mind ... get a new camera! It sometimes amazes me how much we rely on technology to conduct our lives, and the void I felt by not having a camera was rather alarming/amusing to me. Dependent much? I think so! Life is too short ... it must be photo documented.

So I promised written journals of my trip, since I don't have photographs to tell the story, and I intend to deliver.

I left the US on July 3. It was with sad news and a bit of a heavy heart, as I received a call from Arkansas from one of my best friends letting me know that a friend had passed away suddenly the night before. Kari Barber Arnold was my former riding coach and it's difficult to put into words how shocking her death was to me. I spent an hour or so calling a few people that I knew would want to know of the news, then organized myself to leave.

I was happy to put the bags in the car and lock the door, probably to escape the reality. Europe's beckon was stronger and brighter and after getting my oil changed and grabbing some cash from the ATM, I was on the road to Atlanta. My flight was scheduled to depart at 8:10 p.m. from Hartsfield, and I was parking for the first time at a park-n-fly lot, so when I arrived in Atlanta at 3:30 p.m. it was, admittedly, very early. I have learned, however, that giving myself plenty of time helps me avoid the crazy.

Things went off without a hitch and I found myself converting cash to Euro (eek!) then through security, then a few margaritas at On The Border, followed by some drunk dialing/texting, beginning "Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk, then finally boarded and ready to depart. It was exciting and thrilling and totally appealed to the strong sense of adventure that I apparently possess. I was overcome with anticipation and zest for what would await me on the other side of the Atlantic. There are times when I sometimes catch myself questioning whether or not I should be more cautious or concerned, but they're fleeting and I'm usually thankful that it's not my nature to question what could happen. It is my nature to question what could not happen, and while a bit reckless, that's opened many doors for me. (Life challenge: finding a way to mesh the two but that's a perpetual journey and not something for which there is a finite solution.)

The plane took off and very quickly I struck up a conversation with the young man who'd taken the seat next to me. As I'd learn, his name was Lucas and he was traveling to Spain from Louisiana to study for 4 weeks. It was his first time leaving the country, and his trip was entirely self-motivated and directed. He is studying for a degree in public relations and, as such, we had much to discuss. I believe there are always connections to be made in life, and they can happen very quickly - you just have to realize a window is opening. It made me feel very good that a.) he was super skinny so, you know, no risk of fat armrest competition and b.) the conversations we had flowed in such a way that his understandable reluctance and questioning of his decision was replaced with affirmation and purpose. At this stage in my life it's very rewarding to me to find myself in mentoring roles.

Of course, with the carb contingent offered by Delta, excitement, chatter, etc., sleeping wasn't going to be much of an option for me, even though I'd brought Travel Diva (my u-shaped pillow and eye mask) along. At about 1:30 a.m. Atlanta time, the sun began to emerge, thus commencing the shortest night of my life. I am very sensitive to light, so I was wide awake essentially the entire time.

The flight was super smooth and as the day progressed and land appeared below - in the form of the Pyrenees - I couldn't wait to shed the confines of the fuselage and plant my feet on Iberian soil.

(To be continued)

1 comment:

Holly said...

Robby! I am so sorry to hear about Kari. I did not know you had ridden with her, until just now! I met her at Rolex back in the late 80's when I was just a little young'un. She stayed in the same hotel as us and stood outside talking to me and my sister and 2 of our pony club friends until late in the night on the night before dressage. She was talking about riding, eventing, horses, etc. I have wonderful pictures of her competing that year on her precious little Morgan-cross (1989 or 1990, I think). I will always remember her as both a direct inspiration to my love and involvement in eventing, as well as just a fixture in that world that if first experienced in "real life" that special weekend at Rolex (my first, but not my last). I never knew we had this connection, and I'm sorry to find that out under such shocking and sad circumstances. My condolences are with you, your friends, and her family.