For the past 3 weeks, I have been hither, while my husband and any semblance of sanity has been decidedly yon. During this trip everything has been harder: harder than it should be, harder than I anticipated, and at times, harder than I could handle.
It began with my discovery shortly after arriving from Maui that, along with many, many other places in New York City, my brother's subway stop is not ADA compliant. This was not a concern because of any disability I might have (although that list is admittedly very long) but a huge stumbling block to getting my enormous suitcase from street level to the train platform. My suitcase also does not fit in the sub-compact car I am using for the summer - something I only discovered when I tried to actually fit it in the car. A huge roller bag that I packed with absolutely zero intention of lifting suddenly became my own personal albatross. I managed, somehow, to drag it through not just the city, but several cars on the commuter train and then through approximately 7 states, sometimes in the rain, always in the heat, cursing and sweating and coughing all the way. And each time I arrived at the next (but regretfully, never final) resting place, I collapsed on top of it and waited there, spent and yes, moist. But not in a good way.
This trip has been a blur of packing and unpacking, R and R (rest and relaxation vs. ranting and raving - depending on the situation), nostalgia and nightmares. We traveled from New York to Rhode island, and then the very next week we turned around and drove back through New York to Virginia. Let me just say this right now: I love Virginia. I basked in central air conditioning, stopped into Target at least once a day, ate peaches straight from the tree and still warm from the sun, and visited a gym so posh that I felt compelled to leave a tip for the attendant in the women's locker room. I even made it to yoga a few times, which was a minor miracle. I was relaxed and content and surrounded by my family.
On the final day "down south" I took five children out to lunch and the grocery store. The kids are ages 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12. It was possible - but inconceivable in several different ways - that they would all be mine, and I found myself on the receiving end of looks that ranged from impressed to bemused to horrified to sympathetic. I felt the same way, after taking them to a restaurant and the grocery store.
Our last stop was Target, and everyone waited in the car. Because seriously.
As that last day in Virginia progressed, the cold and cough ("it's a fine line between sounding sexy and sounding contagious") that I have been nursing since the end of May seemed to worsen. Bizarrely, I was hardly able to catch my breath, much less speak full sentences. Gasping for air between extended and deeply disturbing coughing fits and feeling slightly panicked, I grabbed Lucy's inhaler, a bottle of water, a box of Kleenex, and a Zyrtec that I found next to the dog food. Thusly fortified, I sat down heavily on the couch to try to get myself together.
To no avail.
I was a sweaty, gagging mess. Snot was everywhere, and I could not communicate whatsoever. I refused to go to the ER, because who does that for a cold? Except, it wasn't a cold. I mean, I might have still had a cold, but the real issue was an asthma attack brought on by allergies.
It turns out, I am allergic to the outside.
At least, the outside here on the East Coast.
At least, the outside in Virginia.
Have you ever had an asthma attack? The feeling that someone is standing on your windpipe while you are drowning is terrifying. And for 22 long hours, as I tried to catch my breath, I thought "Well THIS is bullshit." And it was. It still is. I finally decided to go to the doctor's before beginning the 7 hour drive back to Rhode Island, because I thought I might actually die en route. I now have 2 inhalers, antibiotics for a sinus infection, my very own bottle of Zyrtec so I don't have to steal the dog's, and some pretty rad nasal spray. We pulled onto the highway at 10:30am.
Twelve hours later, we finally reached our destination. Traffic was horrific, and every rest stop was apocalyptic, but more than that, the State of New Jersey practically took away my will to live. I am sure they have heard this before, but just for good measure: New Jersey can fucking suck it. My god, that state takes forever to drive through - especially in bumper to bumper traffic. And a note to the New Jersey Highways Department: rest areas should never, ever, ever be closed on the Sunday afternoon before the 4th of July. We pulled up to a closed sign and a collection of port a potties that were all locked and marked as out of order, and I thought right than that I might die. I wasn't even terribly upset at the prospect.
We made it home, pulling over every hour or so for fluids, coughing fits, and more tissues. Even now, a week later, the cough lingers. But I have managed to avoid seeing the doctor again. Or I did until this weekend, when Max went running off down the beach and stepped squarely on a rock ("I heard something crack, mama!") so I have visited the emergency room this week which I think fulfills my quota for this vacation thankyouverymuch.