Two Tiger Balm patches are attached to my aching, fleece-wrapped neck, while my complaining intestinal tract tries to recover from food poisoning. I'm in a foreign country, don't know a soul. I'm asking myself those existentialist questions—What am I doing? Why am I here? Except they aren't existentialist. And I know the answers. Sort of.
Hi to all you lovely female travelers, especially you over-50s and particularly you over-80s (myself, I'm 92) whose relatives are trying to rein us in, wondering what in heaven's name to do about their mother or sister or aunt who, now footloose and fancy free, chooses not to settle quietly in a senior residence with assisted living around the corner. Well, where I am right now is like a hundred times removed from being that comfortable. Would I trade? No, ma'am! Not in my plans.
But nothing about this trip has gone as planned. Before I sold my condo in Seattle, everything looked sunny, my four kids happy that I was going to visit, that I had definite plans (although I had no real idea where I might resettle). The basic idea was very simple: I would visit my older daughter and son-in-law in California for a few days before I left Seattle. From Seattle, I would go to a Detroit suburb to visit my son and his family for five or six days. Then on to Boston, for a turn with my older son and his wife. Then the long flight to Portugal, where my younger daughter had settled.
Somewhere along the line, I would fit in Montreal, a city I loved but was not well acquainted with. And high on the list was Newfoundland, where my recently discovered landlady of years ago had just celebrated her 105th birthday. After jaunting around for about six months, I would find the perfect rental somewhere, maybe in New England, and settle down to write.
That was the plan.