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the joy of travel (?)

You’d think, by the time a person turns 73, they know a lot about how to live. At least, I think so. And yet, I’ve made a few monumental mistakes in the past few years.

I recently received the teacher assessments back from U of T. They’re anonymous, so students can feel free to say whatever they want. Happily, most were positive, some very much so. But of course it’s the negatives that sting. One student was so offended by a question I asked her that she says she dreaded coming to class. I was floored to read that, since in that class, no one missed a day and there was no discomfort visible. Someone else complained that I told too many stories. Too many stories? This is a class about stories, and at 73, I’m drowning in them.

Sigh. I confess, I was feeling a bit arrogant about my teaching skills. It’s my job to push students to go deeper, out of their comfort zone, and also to make the classes relevant and interesting. Many have said they appreciate just that. But it’s clear my style is not for everyone.

And last year I made a truly dreadful mistake, which I will write about one day — something that hurts deeply but about which I can do nothing. Except move on. So I’ll move on, to Paris, tonight.

Of course, though, this being me — thinking I was SOOO organized, mostly packed a week ago — there was a last minute panic. Rain predicted in Paris every day next week, and Penny wrote from England to say there’s been so much rain, there’s mud everywhere, hope you have mud-proof shoes. I do not. I have bulky waterproof hiking boots, but — not for Paris, no. So yesterday morning, a mad dash to the Eaton’s Centre, my least favourite place on earth, to see if I could find waterproof walking shoes.

I could not. I knew that. Size 10 1/2 is difficult to find at the best of times, and certainly not during a frantic last minute search. Every pair that fitted me was hideous — the Ecco pair looked like it was equipped with tractor tires for soles — and the nice ones didn’t fit. I found a perfect pair at Walk on a Cloud, but my size was at the Eglinton Town Centre, “only a 20 minute subway ride away!” said the saleswoman brightly. Not happening, thanks. Idiot that I am, I should have found and bought these shoes months ago. But then, on my travels, I’ve never had such a dire weather prediction.

I also had to buy special connecting cords for phone and computer, because of course each upgrade requires a completely differently sized end bit. Following Patrick’s instructions (“lightning to aux”), I bought the wrong ones and had to go back. Back to the Eaton Centre.

So, no shoes but the right cords — what are they for again? I forget — I collapsed at home, then got out the silicone spray and sprayed the sneakers I was already bringing and an old pair of walking shoes that are now going in. They smell of silicone, but perhaps will keep off the rain, a bit.

Across town, to take all the food in my fridge to Anna and Sam, and to read the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to the boys. And then we watched the movie. They noticed how much of the book was left out of the film, marvellous though it was, with incredible special effects -—the Hippogriff! Dinnertime at Hogwarts, with candles dancing in the air — gorgeous, all of it. But the book is so much better.

In the evening, was invited by Toronto Lynn to join other friends at a celebration of the Beatles. I’d been looking forward to it, but instead cancelled, went home, put on pyjamas, and got into bed. You know how drained I was, to cancel the Beatles!

Now, all the last minute things — preparing for the tenant who arrives tonight, to be greeted by Sam — cleaning the fridge, making his bed, watering the plants, running the dishwasher, taking out garbage and recycling, laundry, tidying, lists. This is when I feel acutely the lack of another person. I need more cat food and there’s no one to say, I’ll get it honey, you finish the kitchen. No one to say, stop fretting, Bethie, it’ll be fine.

C’est la vie. C’est ma vie.

I sit here in my dressing gown with the cat on my lap, and absolutely nothing in me, right now, wants to heave myself out of this comfortable chair and house and fly across the ocean. Nothing. But I need to do it. I need to shake myself up, after years of pandemic-induced stasis. See new things, experience another world. Good to stretch the brain, the soul.

I’ll send word from the other side.

This is from Florence, with Bruce, in 2015. A happy camper, the joy of travel. Hang onto that.

Cheers! A bientôt!

P.S. Monsieur et Madame Cardinal at the birdfeeder. Now that’s joy.

P.P.S. Just weighed my bag — under 19 pounds for almost 3 weeks in 3 major cities and the British countryside, in the rain. Plus a backpack for the computer. The bag is weighed down by all that silicone.




2 Responses to “the joy of travel (?)”

  1. Theresa says:

    Oh I wish you happy travels. We had rain a few weeks ago in London, Porto, and even (briefly) Spain. I had non-waterproof Skechers and some pretty leather boots (also non). No problem. So you’ll be fine. Go and enjoy every minute. Looking forward to your posts!

  2. Beth kaplan says:

    Thanks theresa. I’m at Pearson. I’ve made it this far. A beautiful day in TO. Much love.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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