Logistical Fail

It’s 8:30 pm and they just brought me a Super Bock stout. They’re gonna pair it up with some olives, because olives. I took a selfie to attach to this post but I couldn’t recognize myself so I’ll take a picture of olives. Ah maybe the selfie too. We’ll see.

I didn’t go out this morning because I discovered how nice the sunroom can be with the windows open wide. I wrote out there with my morning coffee. I meditated in the sun. Naked even. I watched a neighbour watch their cat.

I made breakfast for lunch and spent an hour or so trying to figure out places and events for my remaining ten days here. Mostly just ended up with a list of places to eat. I’m sure a lot happens here but to an outsider it looks mainly like lots of haircuts, cafes and cerveza.

The next X unit of time, I applied for a Ontario Arts Council grant. That sounds so casual. I wrestled with my will and self-doubt and forced myself to apply for an Ontario Arts Council grant.

I lost time in some conversations and in trying to decide if I can see the Fantastic Beasts movie here now and then it was 7:30 and I hadn’t dressed yet and low blood sugar was making me dumb and clumsy.

So I exchanged my comfy clothes for only slightly more acceptable comfy clothes and put on a hat to cover my day old bed head. Threw my Visa card in one pocket and two bags in the other and I was off to the local grocery shop. They know me there now. I thought they’d be proud I finally remembered to bring bags.

They were closed.

I can’t keep track of when places open and close here; though, I am also losing track of what day it is.

(just realized this artisanal burger joint is streaming an english jazz station)

Anyway so I can’t get food to eat at home and I’m dressed like a middle-aged, too lazy to bother, tourist hipster. I lurch down the street, past the understated whore house, around a corner that houses a restaurant I want to try but they’re full and find this burger place that has English on their menu with the Portuguese which is good because by now my eyes are getting blurry from hunger.

Luckily there’s no real way a tourist should look. I don’t take my hat off. Feels rude but it’s for the best all round. And anyway, my hat matches my hair.

The burger is one of the best I’ve ever had. Probably they eat all the time here because the food is so damn good.

Anyway, I could have planned that day a whole lot better. But I didn’t and it didn’t really matter and I got to bask in the sun and I beat the grant demon and I look bizarre but noone cares and that dinner was amazing. The only real downside is I have no cash so I can’t tip.

I don’t even remember why I started telling you all this. This jazz is smooooth. I think it’s Friday. Oh right. The olives. And the selfie. Maybe you’ll figure out who I am now.

Comforts

That’s the food court at this local mall. There’s free wifi. There’s a McDonald’s but also a Sabadores do Porto. I’m eating Indian because I’ve been craving it since not having it in England. With beer, because it’s a food court that has beer.

I was freezing earlier because it’s raining and cold and the apartment has no heat and my big cardigan got stolen. I was hungry and beyond frustrated over passwords and banking. I was concerned for what’s next. I was grumpy from so many causes that it seemed insurmountable. It was time to seek some comfort.

Walking to the mall while the rain took a break got me some exercise and got me to some heat – both needed comforts. Additionally I saw interesting things, like a Nutella cafe, and engaging curiosity always feels good. Bought a lovely and warm scarf, check, that was on my to do list. Love checking those items off! Next was food which was probably more of a need than a comfort. As a sidenote, I’ve mostly stopped feeling “hungry” anymore. It’s like my body clock has just given up. I discovered today that for some reason my phone didn’t switch over to Portugal time. I was an hour ahead for two days and it didn’t matter at all.

Lists and plans comfort me. I was fine for the last two months of floating around without a plan. It’s exhausting though, and expensive and inefficient. I want to travel for the rest of my life but not aimlessly nor non-stop. And preferably not always alone. The delights in life are heightened by sharing them. I’ll be looking for travel buddies. Don’t worry, I won’t be a stickler for the plan. Changing plans is just as good as having them.

It’s amazing how some warmth and some food can turn everything around. As the Desiderata cautions:

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

I’m coughing and sniffling with a cold so I don’t want to go make friends today. I don’t have the energy to dance or make jokes or even ask very interesting questions. I’m grateful every day for social media and for my friends sending me love and encouragement. It helps get me through until my perspective returns.

Soon I need to find a warm hoodie to snuggle into at the apartment, take some cold meds when I get there and if the internet is back, watch some Netflix. Netflix and… warmth.

I’m home for December to have Christmas with my family and friends and to seek comfort during the first Christmas without visiting my mother.

Then I might hop in my car and brave the United States, if it’s still there. If the vote today doesn’t make things worse. That’d be the bravest adventure yet! If my son can do it then so can I! Although, last we heard he was snowed in at a mountain village. But having a great time! Though entirely without a plan. But with his good friend! I wonder maybe instead of trying to decide if a situation is overall good or not, it’s best to just decide it’s good and then strive to make it even better. Yes. That decides it. I’ll look for a hot chocolate place on the walk home.

Oh Honourable Thief

I resolved last night to accept that my things were gone. I cancelled my bank cards, changed pertinent passwords, got new hostel keys, and activated the lost iPad locking. I spent a bit of time feeling violated and fearful, then I went out to MAD About You improv in English. They have two guests per show who they interview and the answers become the offers to create the improv – one per half. I was selected and so I told the room about my backpack being stolen. It’s always good to talk these things out! It was the Hallowe’en show so the questions centred mostly around fear. To a question about nightmares I answered “I recently had a nightmare where I disappointed some important people in my life terribly and I woke up crying.” I love how theatre = therapy. The show was really excellent and the players were great people.

In the morning I got a message that the police had found my credit cards, driver’s license, and hostel keys! They had been left out and a citizen had returned them – I think the thief wasn’t going to sell or use them and wanted them to be returned to me. Jorge of the Lindyhoppers said petty thieves will never use the cards for fear of being tracked and are too unsophisticated for fraud. Unsophisticated but also thoughtful to leave them out to be returned. I wasn’t sure how to get back to the police station so I looked at Google Maps to see if it keeps a running record of everywhere I’ve been and it does, of course. So Maps took me back to the policia and on the way I got to thinking how I can recreate most of my journal from the Cloud. Google knows every restaurant I’ve eaten at, every place I’ve lingered and wandered. Every photo I’ve taken is somewhere on Samsung and Google. I’ve sent emails and Messenger messages and texts and WhatApp notes and I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Really everything I’ve experienced is somehow documented on the Cloud. And so I came to terms with the loss of the journal.

That combined with the sunshine and the return of all my ID and my hostel keys made me so much lighter. My natural state is one of general joy with bursts of excitement. I had forgotten that fact until I returned to it after quitting the bank. I was so excited about the future! Then my Mom’s illness became more demanding and then, of course, she died. And the joy was gone, it was all grey and really I went to the UK because I was afraid if I didn’t do something rash I would wake up and find that I’d gone back to the bank and that twenty years had passed.

Somehow in struggling with the loss of all these things, I’ve found my way back to the joy. During this trip I’ve mostly been happy. Engaged, interested and on occasion excited and deeply contented with highlights of joy. There has been so very much beauty and I’ve been often moved, at times to tears. Walking along the street today I was able to be “in the moment”: joyful, excited about the future, and thrilled by the moment. It was good to be back.

I bought a little notebook that I really like and will carry in my new hip bag that prevents me from having to put my stuff down when I dance. Long journal entries I can do at home: the notebook is for jotting down things like “the cashier says Luton is not England… not anymore” but also things like the list of what to bring the NEXT time I’m on a red-eye flight.

Late this afternoon, I got a Twitter message from a new Jorge saying he thought he had found my journal! The photocopy of my passport was still in it and he used it to find me on Twitter. We made plans to meet up at a bar called “Oh My Game” – like a Canadian games cafe. I felt a bit nervous of course, so I used the Messenger location-sharing feature to share my whereabouts with an actress from the improv group and apprised her of my plan. There was no need for concern though – Jorge #2 was a pleasant young man who was out playing games and drinking beer with his friends. He had found the journal discarded in a public area.

The other items I’m sure are now being sold and I’m quite fine with that. The robber identified the items I most required back and left them to be found. I’m grateful to this honourable thief for the lesson, and for not making it sting too badly.

And I’m grateful for the dancers, actors and gamers who are out there being good souls. And for my many friends who sent me messages of love and support. All these people make this a world where joy is possible.

My bags are packed…

Kipling considered being packed in my bag so I had to explain baggage allowances to him. I mean, I’m underweight in both suitcase and carry on and between the two could actually pack my pooddle-cross senior rescue dog. But part of the point of all of this is to be in a situation where I’m only beholden to myself for the first time in my adult life. No spouse, no children, no pet, no committee or boss or houseplants even.

Actually I think I’m going to betray myself on that and join a Folk Music Ontario committee this weekend. When I return to my life and my dog and my houseplants (if they live) I’ll be joining a few more things. I’m so involved in this life, but not committed. No more skimming the surface. I think. Maybe. We’ll see.

In the meantime I had to say goodbye to my doggie today – it didn’t phase him. I said goodbye to my daughter this morning and to my son this afternoon and then I sat in the hotel lobby and tried not to cry. They’ll be fine, good, great. They have interesting, exciting lives. They have excellent, loving partners who keep them supplied with support and hugs. And with computers in our pockets, how far away can anyone actually go?

We’ll see.

Four days of folk music and then indefinite Europe.

I’m ready to go.