Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Post Flight Purchase Pre-Trip Waiting Period

In four months, almost to the day, I will leave for Italy. Three weeks ago I bought my ticket, trying not to choke when I remembered that I'd once bought a round trip flight to South Africa for that amount.

Now I am in the post flight purchase pre-trip waiting period. The trip is not next week, it's not next year. Four. Months. Rationally, I know it will come faster than I expect. From experience, I know that no matter how much I prepare and organize myself, the last two days will be whirlwinds of to-do lists and job tasks and laundry and packing.

Now, in the waiting period, it's just itchy fingers and restless feet.

I checked out three books on Venice and the Veneto. I've flipped through them, reading some history, some tourist site to-dos. It seems too early to make my checklist, my filtered approximation of what I can squeeze in without running around like a hell-bent tourist.

It's cold here in Chicago, though the snow drifts from the blizzard have all but melted. I'm looking at my sun dresses that hang in my closet-six months of dust lining the shoulders. I fight the impulse to take them down one at a time, to roll them carefully without wrinkles, to pick out sandles and earrings, scarves and necklaces. I resist this preemptive pack, but I succumb to the daydream.

I wander Verona with my camera bag and my journal. My skin warms to the Italian sun, though it is coated with hat and sunscreen. I can taste the morning espresso, the dark nut in it. I feel my feet moving along the cobbled streets, dust accumulating in my toes and insteps. I smell the heat of the early summer, the way it ages from dawn to dusk.

I cannot daydream about the surprises, the way a trip brings you detours and vignettes. How could I know that my last trip would involve a 25 hour bus trip, that it would make me giddy and stressed and alive and tired all at once? I ache for my next trip to start, for the surprises, for writing moments and photographs, for the coming-home feeling.

I've never been to Verona, but I know it will feel new and intoxicating. I can only hope that it will also feel like a retreat, a respite, a friend, a truth, a love.

By the time I board the plane, I will have washed and worn my sundresses and sandals around Chicago. The garden will be in bloom, the winter itch long gone. Four Months. A small slip of time.