Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bon Voyage

Andrew and I are in a state of excitement about our upcoming trip.

We depart tomorrow.

Andrew has been to Munich many times, and he has been to Austria many times, but I have never visited Southern Germany or Austria.

I cannot wait.

Andrew and I are already prepared for our departure. Our bags are packed, our bodies are rested, our spirits are high.

We are ready to go!

My mother, on the other hand, is a pile of nerves.

First, she has been in a frenzy for months worrying about something going wrong with our various connecting flights to Chicago. She worries that Andrew’s and my flight from Minneapolis to Chicago will be delayed, or that my family’s flight from Oklahoma City to Chicago will be delayed, either circumstance of which may prevent all of us from flying on the same airplane from Chicago to Munich.

We keep telling her that an unavoidable delay will simply result in a rerouting to Munich and, in that case, we shall all meet up at Franz Josef Strauss rather than O’Hare.

Nevertheless, she is quite concerned.

Second, my mother worries about luggage being lost or misrouted, which she somehow views as a virtual certainty since connecting flights are involved.

We keep telling her that any delayed luggage will be delivered to our hotel in Munich, but she worries nonetheless.

Third, my mother worries about clothing. She worries about what to wear in Munich and Vienna versus what to wear “in the provinces”, and she worries about what to wear to the opera in Vienna. She—quite seriously—thinks that she will be able to wear heels most of the time. When we explain to her the amount of walking we intend to do in Munich alone, her response is always the same: she plans to take “comfortable” heels.

Fourth, my mother worries about food. She fears she won’t like German cooking, and she fears she won’t like Austrian cooking, and she holds up as evidence the fact that my sister did not like the food in Britain last summer.

We keep telling her that my sister is a very picky eater and, in any case, that everyone knows that food in Britain is not good. We keep telling her that food in Germany and Austria is excellent, far better than food in Britain, but my mother somehow expects to be presented with plates of blood sausage, sauerkraut and pickled beets three times a day for ten days.

Fifth, my mother worries about hotels. She worries that European air-conditioning will not be up to snuff, she worries that strange noises will keep her awake at night, and she worries that water pressure in European bathrooms will not meet her exacting standards.

We keep telling her that German and Austrian hotels will be perfectly fine, and that in any case we plan to sleep at the hotels, and little else.

Sixth, my mother worries about the opera performance we plan to attend in Vienna. She fears that my father and my brother will not enjoy the performance.

We keep telling her that a chance to experience an opera performance at Theater An Der Wien, the theater of Mozart and Beethoven, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for my father and my brother, and that they will welcome the opportunity to spend one evening of their lives among the ghosts of Mozart and Beethoven.

She is not convinced.

Seventh, my mother worries about museum visits. She fears that my father and my brother will not enjoy the museum visits we have planned.

We keep telling her that we plan to visit only three museums, all in Munich, and that my father and brother are likely to enjoy all three museums immensely.

Of course, my mother is a professional worrier—she is, after all, an accountant—and there is not much we can do to change that. As soon as the vacation begins, she will have the time of her life, and her worries will disappear.

My sister is not worried about our trip in the least. She, like Andrew and me, is in a state of total excitement. She knows she will have a wonderful time.

She loved our trip to Britain last summer. It was her first trip out of the country, and she had such a good time that she wants to return to Europe as often as possible.

My brother is blasé about the trip, or at least he pretends to be. For him, the vacation is a high-school graduation gift, and he’s not quite sure what to expect.

This will be his first trip outside the United States. He chose our destination, and he based his decision on his desire to see the Alps. Beyond that, he really does not know what to expect.

It is my father that concerns me.

My father is always wound up. He cannot find within himself the means to relax. He is an instinctive trial attorney, combative, on guard, and ready to pounce twenty-four hours a day, and he cannot turn this quality off. Taking a vacation with my father is akin to taking a vacation with Admiral Halsey.

I hope my mother can keep my father under wraps.

THAT should be the source of my mother’s worries, and nothing else.


Today Andrew’s nephew and niece came over to spend the day with us.

We played with them all morning and, after their naps, we played with them all afternoon.

Tonight we had a full table at dinner, as everyone was present, a “Bon Voyage” of sorts for Andrew and me.

We had Shrimp Newburg, followed by roast chicken and stuffing, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, fresh carrots, fresh white corn, a cranberry salad and a tomato-cucumber salad. For dessert, we had homemade blackberry cobbler and homemade ice cream.

While Andrew and I will be away, Andrew’s niece and nephew will receive visitors: their British grandparents will arrive from London for a three-week stay. This will be the first time Lizbeth’s parents will see their new granddaughter, and the new house (and Minneapolis, too, for that matter).

Andrew and I will catch up with them when we return.

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