Dearest Rachel –
Even as I lay awake, processing last nights nightmare, I found myself wondering what this little adventure would be like had it been the two of us, rather than just me. What would be different about it, and what would be the same?
In all likelihood it wouldn’t have even happened, or at least, not with barely a month of planning, and certainly not right around the holidays. You always did a very good job of hiding it, and you managed to do a lot of things and make them seem effortless, but I know that there was enough about the holidays to stress you out. The idea of planning a trip overseas right after Thanksgiving… there would be no way.
And, now that I think about it, we already had plans for the post-Thanksgiving weekend, what with the Chicago Tardis convention we’d already purchased admission to back in 2019. You would be insistent that we go (although maybe slightly put off by the fact that this year involved no actual Doctors on the guest list – although Frazer Hines is without doubt quite the raconteur of the classic companions – and that the current series, while back under the capable administration of Russell T. Davies again, is also back to its old format of being one cliffhanger episode after another. I don’t recall exactly how you felt about that, but I sure as heck preferred getting my story all at once), and the idea of a trip like the one I’m currently trapped in would never have happened.
But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that it did. Certainly, we were hoping to make these sorts of voyages on a regular basis once the world opened up, and at the time of your departure, it seemed like the possibilities were on the horizon. I even recall chatting with you about how I had found cruise offerings from Royal Caribbean that were to be going around Japan in April and August of this year. I never followed up to see if they actually happened, but both you (and Michelle at the travel agency) seemed skeptical as to whether they would be open to Americans, given the general global attitude toward health (and the fact that the vaccine had yet to roll out at the time, for what it turned out to be worth). And again, for all I know, they may have been cancelled or changed between my spotting them and when they were supposed to have embarked.
So how would things be different if it were the two of us sitting around in the Hotel Pullman, waiting as the days rolled past for the okay to go outside? After all, an amazing amount has changed on the world stage since you left; even since I flew out of O’Hare, things have changed rather dramatically, with the announcement of the latest new variant, just in time for the holidays (although they didn’t cancel Thanksgiving, at least).
It’s an exercise in alternate history, to be sure, and a few assumptions would have to be made. Considering that Daniel was already talking to you about the prophets and pundits (to which you had responded with an “I’ll believe it when I see it,” especially after the two of you had told me about the Pope having been arrested, and I quickly managed to find sources verifying otherwise), I’m going to assume that he would not have changed in the opinions he currently holds, although you may have been able to temper them somewhat. We probably would have agreed that he had the right to refuse to be vaccinated, but I dare say that you and I would have been in line together, snarking with each other about the wait time and hoping this would be our pathway to freedom.
Although at this point, Daniel might just be well within his rights to smirk back and reply, “Some freedom you’ve got there, Dad.”
I probably wouldn’t have done any of the research on the destinations like I did this time. After all, I’ve done all that for the sake of these letters, and with you by my side, why would I need to research or write anything down? We’d be living in the moment, without any particular thought toward recording these memories-to-be. Each of us might bring something to write in, but whatever we’d do, we’d just scribble something down and when we got home, we’d put it away until such time as only one of us was left to find it again; pretty much my current situation.
Since I didn’t fall asleep on the plane, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have, either. Although you’d probably be spending the time watching this or that movie on it. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even bother to check what they had. That just wasn’t my thing.
You tended to be a bit more prepared than I was, so you might’ve prevented me from going to the wrong exit at the Basel airport. Whether that would’ve found us our driver or not, I couldn’t tell you; really, had we known it was that straightforward a bus trip to the center of town, I think we would have jumped on it from the beginning; it isn’t that far removed from riding the blue line when we would go downtown.
You might have wanted to wander around more that first night, and I’m fairly certain you would’ve wanted to stop at a restaurant – which I certainly wouldn’t have objected to, it’s just that it’s not as much fun to do that on my own. Don’t know if you would’ve been more organized such that we would’ve had the correct QR code to let us into the Christmas market; given how things eventually turned out, it was probably for the best that I was turned away.
Of course, there’s also the fact that you and I suffered colds in very different ways: I would get hit hard for a day or two, while you would get these little symptoms that would last for a month and more. You probably wouldn’t be feeling it nearly as much as I have been. As a result, you would probably be much more heartbroken about being escorted off the ship than I was – and I felt embarrassed and disappointed and all those sorts of things myself.
I’d like to think that there wouldn’t be any recriminations between us, depending on whether both of us tested positive or not. I’d like to think we’d try to make the best of it, while I would try to explain that we could swing the situation financially, you would be checking with our agents back home about insurance. Basically, we’d probably have the situation sorted out in about half the time that it took me on my own.
Indeed, we’d probably figure out everything in at least half the time. You’d probably have the television going, and maybe figure out how to plug one of my hard drives in to watch some of the stuff I brought. I haven’t even turned the set on, if you can believe that. We’d also be going through the menu online that much quicker – sharing bites of unfamiliar entrees – and maybe you’d even insist on trying to figure out how to order from eat.ch (which I still haven’t had the nerve to figure out).
I’d hope you’d have brought your own search protector, and you’d have had better luck with it than I did with mine. That way, you could continue playing your Gardens of Time, checking Facebook occasionally (you didn’t bother with it much, but this would be an easy way to keep our friends informed), and watching videos with or without me.
Most of all, we would have had each other, tending to each other in our sickness, cheering each other up when we were tired or bored, and holding each other close as we waited this whole thing out. I miss those kinds of days that we used to have, back during the anime conventions or what-have-you. I don’t know how single people do this.
On the other hand, if I can survive a trip like this, I think I can deal with just about anything when it comes to travel. I won’t necessarily like it, but I can deal with it.
But that’s all a bunch of ‘what if’ scenarios. I just have to survive another couple of days before I can get outside (hopefully), at least, and presumably find my way back home. Lars keeps talking about the historical sites and other points of interest here, and I wish I could get excited about that. But after all this time, I think all I want to do is click my heels and say ‘there’s no place like home.’
Wish me luck, honey, and patience. I still need some.