Monday, July 19, 2010

"Qui Mi Addormentai..."

"Dave?" I whispered into his ear, "Dave...sweetie...are you screwing with me?" The word screwing was deliberate. We were surrounded by other passengers on the plane and I didn't want to offend anyone by using more provocative language. I have a theory that conservatism spikes on airplanes.

I had been asleep. Or, at least, a hazy imitation of sleep brought on by generic Ambien. My insurance provider dropped Lunesta as an option, but they considered generic Ambien a viable replacement. This is the first time I could tell a substantive difference between the brand-name version and its no-name alternative. With Lunesta (and regular Ambien), there is bit of lead time - a lilting, soothing interlude during which one can talk on the phone or send emails. None of these activities will be recalled in tomorrow's A.M., of course, but at least it offers a period of adjustment. The generic version doesn't waste your time with liltings or pansy interludes. Get into bed first, then take the pill. Generic (or General) Ambien will arrive with his black jack in short order.

This is what I was counting on. Dave and I were in the midst of a seven-hour transatlantic flight. I wanted to be unconscious - spared the in flight viewing of Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. We drank our complimentary drinks, ate our complimentary chicken-food thing, and popped the tiny pill.

It worked for Dave.

I, however, was cast into a foggy on-again-off-again waking dream. I dozed, but never found my way to actual sleep.

During one of the intervals of half-slumber, the sound of a distant truck or plow gunning its engine wheedled its way into my head.

Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg.

My eyes blinked open so I could divine the source of the noise. I looked to my right.

It was Dave, deep in angelic sleep, his mouth agape. He had the hiccups.

Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg.

I leaned over and whispered, "Honey...honey...wake up..."


Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg.

I got a little louder:

"Dave. Dave." I poked him on the shoulder. I gave him a gentle shake. Then a not-so-gentle shake.

Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg.

The tiniest flutter of a smile passed across his face.

Positive he must be pulling my leg (my shakes had graduated to shoves), I leaned in "Dave...sweetie...are you screwing with me?"

The thing was, being sort of half asleep myself, I had no real filter of my own. Who knows how long the passengers around us were subjected to:

"Dave, are you screwing with me? Are you screwing with me, Dave? Dave? Are you? Screwing with me? Are you screwing with me?"

Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg. (pause) Whreeg.

I even reached over and pressed his mouth closed to see if it would stay shut.

Mrurg. (pause) Mrurg. (pause) Mrurg.

It didn't. I started laughing like the village idiot, still compulsively asking, "Are you? Screwing with me? Dave?"

Finally, with an abrupt shudder, Dave's hiccups were gone. I was kind of sad to see them go - not for long, though. General Ambien noticed I had gone AWOL and yanked me back into murky sleep.


We touched down at Frankfurt Airport at around 11:00am

Once we deplaned, Dave and I headed to Passport Control. There I received my first ever stamp in my first ever passport.


I must seem more well traveled than I actually am. Whenever the topic of travel comes up and the question arises "So, where have YOU been?", my answer appears to cause nothing less than shock followed by a hint disappointment. I am exposed as something provincial.

I have never traveled outside of the United States, the sole exception being Canada. Some would protest "Canada counts!" Yes, yes. Of course, Canada counts. It is another country. But aside from the good manners, health care and abundance of Nestle products, the culture feels very similar to our own. What with it being right next door, it's hard to feel so transformed by the experience.

I always longed to travel, but never allowed myself the opportunity. Dave and I had discussed taking a big trip for months, so he contacted his friends Tom and Tracy to see if they'd be interested in traveling with us. The three of them went to Siena and Florence four years ago. Dave has often mentioned how overwhelmed he was by Italy, and he wanted to show me what he had fallen in love with. Tom and Tracy were on board.

As the day approached for our departure, I could barely wrap my mind around the concept that, for the first time in my 36 years, I was heading overseas.

Italy? What on Earth. Isn't Italy a made up place like Narnia or Shangri-La? I've seen pictures, but seriously, it's not like an actual place, is it? Fine. Show me.


The officious young German man stamped my passport and handed it back to me.

I nearly burst into tears right then.

COMING UP! The Swiss will help you exchange your Travelers Checks with "Big Pleasure!"

1 comment:

Jessie said...

I have a similar experience when I tell folks I am not well-travelled. Not even all the states have seen me. So, I feel for you, or rather, would feel for you if you weren't a worldly person now. Have a wonderful time! I have plans (i.e. hopes) to go to Israel later this year. That'll be somethin'.

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