Even before I had left my neighborhood, the day before I was scheduled to fly out of San Francisco to Washington DC, I had “adventures.” In the morning, my back went out. After church traveling prayers were said for me, and I paid close attention to the request that my journey be healthful. Would God heal me overnight? That afternoon I took a walk in the neighborhood, because my chiropractor told me once that when you walk, every step is like a little adjustment; I know from experience that walking is healthful, and I hoped that the kinks would work themselves out, and the spasms cease.
While I was walking I admired the eucalyptus trees; they caught my attention by the loud hum overhead, the noise of hundreds of flies and bees of every sort working at the blooms. Blooms? Indeed, in November. Some of the species of this tree do bloom in the fall, as I found by first-hand observation, and when I got home and read about them online. The flowers were mostly too high up for me to get a good picture, and the leaves were prettier, anyway.
While walking I got a text message from daughter Kate, whom I was going to see at the end of my journey the next day. “My” bench was close by, so I sat down to type a message back to her. Yowie! A beast I never saw stung me on the finger, and it filled with biting pain. I cut my walk short and started back the way I had come, thinking I should hurry home and take my wedding ring off before swelling could tighten it and add to the discomfort. Then I realized that my flesh was already puffing up, and I managed to remove my ring with the help of some saliva.
My back was feeling a little better, but my finger was stabbing for several hours, anytime I took it out of the ice water, and that distracted me from my final preparations — but I guess I did at least pack what I needed, and I went to bed hoping for a better tomorrow.
I don’t think often about my wedding bands. I have one on each hand since my late husband and I bought new ones for our 40th anniversary four years ago; at that time I had the original band resized and I wear it on my right ring finger. When I became a widow I had no desire to take off my rings – I feel that in my heart and soul I am still married.
But before I set off for the airport the next morning, when I tried to put my newer ring back on, the finger was still too swollen, and I had to leave the ring behind and go naked on that finger for the first time in nearly 45 years. So that was the first new thing I experienced on my trip.
My back seemed to be fine when I woke. I was taking the usual NSAIDs, but it remained to be seen how I would do sitting in buses and airplanes and cars for the next nine hours. Sitting is typically the opposite of walking as far as back health goes.
When I was planning for this trip I was looking forward to uninterrupted reading time on the plane(s), ten hours or more, plus reading for a few minutes in bed each night before sleep. I wanted to read on a topic somehow connected to the people or sights I would see, and one obvious one was India. No, India was not on my itinerary, but one big reason I was making a trip to visit Kate right now is that she and her husband are moving to India next year for work. They will be there two years; since they are very important people to me I’d like to know something about this place that will be their home. Also, I hope to visit them there!
So as soon as I settled on to the airporter bus, I opened my Kindle and began to read Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie. I had brought along a fat fleece neck pillow, tied with a ribbon to my backpack, and I tucked that behind me for back support, and was good to go. For a while I talked with my seatmate, a woman much older than I who was traveling to a North Carolina wedding brave and cheerful in spite of having just recovered from a broken hand, and not quite recovered from the death of her foster son. She was encouraging just by being herself.
Nothing eventful happened on my flight east. My naked finger never stopped feeling odd; it was Something New the whole week. I had extra legroom on that nonstop flight, the seat next to me was empty, and I enjoyed the quiet and solitude. The book was good, and my back hurt not a bit, thanks be to God. I spent a few hours in India, and then my plane touched down in Washington, DC.
“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.” – Roman Payne