Dearest Rachel –
It’s amazing, how fast things can change from one day to the next. One day, you think you have a whole lineup of plans for the foreseeable future; the next, so much of that list has been delayed, postponed or gone by the boards altogether.
I don’t know when I first realized just how useless plans are when they come up against real life. After all, I was raised by a guy who tended to assemble family vacations with no less than a year’s notice beforehand. Although with that being said, it may be that it was his plan for a family cruise over the 2019/20 New Year’s holiday that started things. Needless to say, he was talking about this back in 2018, around the same time as we had just put together his surprise 80th birthday celebration… which means that this was only a few months before he fell deathly ill, and despite recovering (all but miraculously), his traveling days are effectively over.
You recall our own struggles with when to travel and when not to shortly thereafter, when your mom was suffering her last few strokes; you rushed to her side one weekend, at which point she rallied and seemed to recover. Come the following weekend, you decided to stay with me in the middle of my dad’s crisis, only for her to let go.
Of course, that set in motion the Great Freedom, as I could finally walk away from the job (not the career, but the job) that I had hated so much. Granted, it took an inordinately long time to actually extricate myself – for all that I had been told for years how utterly useless I was, two weeks was far too little time for them to find and train a replacement, and I had to stay for three months for them to finally do so. We could be together as a family (well, as a couple, at first, since Daniel was still wrapping up his final semester in college); we could even travel on our own, even if the family trip had fallen through.
You even went so far as to make our own arrangements for us to visit your godmother before she grew too old to have visitors – taking the train, another bucket list item for you, as you described how little you enjoyed flying, much to my surprise. And given what was about to happen to the world – and to us – it could not have been timed any better. Of course, I don’t need to go on about what happened at this point – everyone in the world knows about the pandemic (it’s why the “pan-” suffix is there, after all), and anyone reading this knows what happened to us as the new year, with was we thought included the promise of new life and normality with it, curdled instantly like egg yolks in boiling syrup.
With all that in mind, I’ve tried to wean myself from planning things – even fairly major events – too far in advance; the volatile nature of modern life seems to recommend that, if I want to do something, I’d best just get on with it and go do it before the window of opportunity closes. That extends all the way down to my day-to-day schedule, although that’s usually less of a hassle. Normally, on those rare occasions when someone asks if I’m available to get together (or, more frequently, if I schedule someone to help me work on the house in one capacity or another), I respond with the fact that my schedule is almost always wide open.
But last night, Erin asked if we were getting together this week – more specifically tonight, since, as it so happens, it’s the one night left this week that’s not spoken for (there’s Bible study tomorrow, dinner at the folks on Thursday, and of course, I’m in the booth throughout the Easter weekend). It’s actually surprising for me to realize just how solidly booked I am, considering how much unlike our normal life this is.
Today was actually looking busy in itself. After months of missed connections, I met Lars today for lunch (ironically, at the same place I’d planned to meet E.C. over two straight Fridays – which, of course, is a whole other story of dispensed-with plans). For what it’s worth, it was E.C.’s loss, if you ask me. We caught up on family and travel and the growth and change that he seems to think he sees in me. I’m not so sure, but maybe that’s because I’m in this skin 24/7, so it doesn’t show as much to me; if he thinks I’m doing better, I’m glad for it. Between one thing and another, I didn’t get home (I figured there wasn’t much point in returning to the ‘office’) until nearly three in the afternoon; conversation will do that to you.
Now, I’d also thought I’d be meeting Jeff for dinner this evening; he, too, has been trying to get in touch with me (and Jan has been pushing me to meet with him as well, although I’m not sure about the connection there), but I wasn’t sure that we’d finalize anything. It was for this reason I had to tell Erin I’d have to check with him before inviting her and the rest of the gang over. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was disappointed. Maybe it’s from not having seen Ellen in a while – for all their carrying on when they see each other, it’s strange that they never try to get together on their own. You were always the hub of their (and everyone else’s) social circle, it seemed. It was a role that fit you, but it doesn’t work for me.
But as it happened, he’d not finalized anything because he was already committed to something else tonight. All well and good, and I’ve relayed the information to the girls, but have yet to hear anything back. It may just be Daniel and myself tonight; and that’s fine, too, I suppose, given how busy we’re going to be for the rest of the week. Still, it would have been nice to have a plan like that come together.
Finally, after just having told you about the issue with Shanghai, and why I’d be traveling around Japan with Celebrity instead of Royal Caribbean, I just got an email this morning. It seems that the Asian situation is so volatile that the cruise line is just giving up on sailing there at all between September and next April. This wipes out the new trip I had planned, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t come anywhere near China. So much for that. They’re offering re-accommodations on another cruise, which would be fine, but it’s the destination I was looking for, so I will probably just set the plans aside for now. Maybe I’ll be in the mood for something else later, but for now, never mind. Gonna just have to do something with a little shorter notice at some point – assuming the mood actually strikes me between now and then.
Hey, sometimes a door closes, and I seem to have gotten a few in the nose lately. Maybe I should wear a helmet.
Regardless, wish me luck, honey. It seems like I’m still going to need it. Love you.