Friday, April 26, 2013
Ticket to Ride
A remarkably hectic week, this, and now that it's Friday morning, I'm pleased it's over. I had to go up to Dubai for a few nights (staying at our favorite hostelry, who really do treat one beautifully - when you find the right place, one of the few things the Sandlands really does right is mindless pampering, which even in a business context, which this very much was, is always a rather soothing thing). It was a whirl of the usual nonsense, meetings and discussions and much backing-and-forthing, morning to night.
These days, thanks to the dubious blessings of modern technology, such trips require one to be in two (at least places) at once. All the time that you're doing one thing, with the people with whom you are physically interacting, dealing with Very Important Out-of-Towners and the Critical Matters they have to discuss, you're also surreptitiously answering e-mail and checking texts and trying to figure out how to keep everyone back at the office content. I wish I could claim to travel under such circumstances with all the aplomb that dear Miss Dietrich so effortlessly displays, but I fear that by Wednesday, when I finally got to come home, that was far from the case.
This trip was all the more surreal, for as it was happening, the background chatter with which I was dealing on the sly was of a sudden mostly about the remarkable fact, which has all just in those few days gelled to the point of no return, that in a matter of weeks we will be winging our way back to the only semi-familiar Great Unknown of life in the U.S. of A. Flooding the BlackBerry was a tide of messages from travel agent, movers, veterinarian, and more, all requiring immediate answers about routing, packing, visas, shipping, you name it. From that distance, it seemed a shade unreal; confronted back in the office with a stack of forms and an undeniable itinerary, right down to seat assignments, it suddenly is real. Still terrifying, but now if nothing else plausible.
Mr. Muscato and I had a rather dazed and all-too-brief reunion on my return, for he has jetted off for a few days of well-earned fun with some old pals, during which they will doubtless cut a wide swathe across the loucher stretches of the Edgware Road (look out, Jon and other Café UK regulars, and keep an eye out for a stout Egyptian and a gaggle of amusing fellow-travelers). That leaves me here with the dogs, who are increasingly suspicious about the various goings-on that signal change - piles of old clothes for sorting, stacks of magazines for throwing away, and worse. Within a week or two we'll start breaking up the house in earnest, and then those few weeks of in-between that are a periodic feature of the nomad life, moving through a time when you go from being the proprietor of a comfortable, if anything overfurnished, house into a phase in which all you really have is a suitcase or two (or, if you're Miss Dietrich, ten), and then, as the shippers work their magic, gradually back again.
And on the side, what is more or less a whole new life, or at least a very different one. House-hunting, for example, is something I've not had to do since the first Clinton administration (or rent-paying, for that matter). We'll have to arrange for utilities and pick an Internet and cable plan and Heaven help us learn about recycling, which is not a feature of Sandlands life. Expatriates are often warned about reverse culture shock when going home, and I have a feeling I'm in for a doozy. In the meantime, though, I will study the serene resolve with which Dietrich approaches her voyage, and do my best to do the same.