Thursday, May 7, 2009


The other night at dinner we had another of those interactions that gives me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: Shea was negotiating with us to travel to the memorial service for a friend’s grandmother (whom she never met) to be able to spend some time with the friend and another they’d voyage to go see. There’s nothing unreasonable about it--she is essentially done with high school and Michael and I each did much longer voyages alone at that age--it’s that I was taken aback to hear that the friends’ grandmother had died. “I would have sent a note!” I exclaimed, if only Shea had told me.

Except, she had. Again, it was in proximity to the memorial weekend when things were pretty stressful, but still. Even Michael remembered the conversation, and Michael has always forgotten all kinds of human interactions, even though he never forgets anything about machines or technical specs. Losing info that even Michael remembered on top of my other recent memory lapses was frightening. I struggled with this for a few days before balance reasserted itself: what’s scary about this is that it might get worse, and after all, it might also get better, too. For now, I’m able to do my work with only small adaptations, I can travel without major restrictions, and there are ways to compensate for most of the deficits I have. I cannot control whether they get worse, only make the best of where I am right now.

Perspective is good: as many drawbacks as there are to business travel these days, it does have the virtue of showing us other ways of doing things and letting us count our blessings for the good things in our lives. Yesterday, I left from an airport not my home one and observed an interaction at the security line that made me uncomfortable with no good way to speak up. The woman in front of me, traveling with a baby, and also not of standard-issue midwestern origin, was given so much trouble going through security that I was embarrassed. This only intensified when I breezed through without so much as a look at my belongings by the pre-scanning person, and arguably the things she’d made the other woman throw away were not that different than what I took through without examination. I’ve never seen anything like this at all at my home airport, and I go in and out through there a lot. It’s respectful and even-handed in all of my observations, in contrast to yesterday’s uncomfortable experience.

The hotel, a standard business hotel these days, is nice, with all the features these places have these days, plus, thankfully, reasonable internet access. On the other hand, the bathroom is elegant looking but not functional. There’s no way to take a shower without water getting all over the bathroom floor, there’s no place on the truly gorgeous sink fixture to put a toothbrush or a bar of soap, and the water is harder than what we take for granted in central Illinois. So, balance is reasserting itself, again, and I’m appreciating all that’s truly wonderful about my life.

Here’s the question my hotel breakfast leaves me with, which seems profound to me: why do we not ever get credit for all the fattening things we don’t eat, even when they’re put before us? Why does it only count what you do eat? It sure seems to me that there should be a system for credit where credit is due.

Cheers to all.

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