Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The prodigal returns

Our little family is complete once again. Steve dragged himself home last night from the business trip from hell in Florida. After getting off the plane he still had to go to the office for some end-of-day rituals that must be observed, so he showed up here at 6, ate some dinner, then took a pill and went to bed. Slept for 12 hours straight. He's still tired and is feeling congested--not surprising he should come down with something. If he can get through this week he can just veg this weekend and gradually regain his equilibrium.

As glamorous as "career at the Peace Corps" may sound, I confess that whatever travel was part of my responsibilities was something I endured rather than relished. I'm a creature of routine and find long periods living out of a suitcase and a different hotel room every night enervating. And my Peace Corps trips were more like forced marches than merry jaunts through the countryside. Yes, I saw things and places most people never do, but the cost in discomfort and strain was high. One of my "trips" was actually a 4-week stay in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, where I served as interim director while the Peace Corps hired a permanent replacement. That was actually somewhat enjoyable. At least I could stay in one spot for a bit and explore at my own pace. But four weeks away was a long time and I was anxious to get back home.

Having said that, another two-year stint in the Peace Corps is not an idea I dismiss out-of-hand--although it'll never happen because the Peace Corps, subject to Uncle Sam's outdated policies, doesn't accept "unmarried couples" who want to serve together (how's that for a catch-22 for gay people?). But if I could join, and I knew I'd have something productive to do and could be in a place long enough to call it home, then I know I'd find the experience as exciting as it was the first time around; perhaps even better because I'm a lot smarter now and less of a hormone-driven brute. It's just the idea of being on the move constantly and at the whim of whomever your host is for the day that I don't find appealing. I empathize completely with how Steve is feeling now. If it had been me, I might fare even worse!

9 comments:

Zoey and Me said...

Just a minor correction, there is no "hell" here in Florida . . although we sometimes hear northerners say "it's hotter than hell" here. Not for us. Actually today it's freezing by our standards, 55 degrees. I think the hell you speak of is closer to you than me. It leaves DC some time in January hopefully never to return.

Ralph said...

LOL! Sorry to seem to diss Florida, Z&M. Actually, this trip would have been "from hell" if it were in Paradise itself. If something could go wrong, it did. The only thing Florida had to do with it was that it happened there. In Melbourne, as a matter of fact. (Heck! I should have thought of that before now. I'd have wangled a dinner for him!)

Zoey and Me said...

You sure could have. We be here. Just a few miles north. Steve wasn't very far from where he grew up too. I do about half my work in Viera which is the north side of Melbourne and everything down there has eateries galore. All good so you gotta guess he ate well while here.

Jeff said...

I know you'd disagree, but I do envy you that early travling life. I spent my youth cloistered in the neighborhood I grew up in, dating the girls on my block, working in the stores just a few streets away. Even when my friends took off for Europe after high school - I turned down their invitation and stayed close to home. I wish I had been more adventurous then.
The bureaucratic prejudice ("umnarried couples") is such a block to the talent, wisdom, and spirit that we could all use.
Maybe one day...
- J.

Ralph said...

Au contraire, Jeff, I agree completely that a little traveling of one kind or another, even if it's just to go to a different state for college, is one of the best things a young person to do. I was of a mindset that I couldn't wait to get away from my hometown and my family and into some completely different world. I want all kids to be like that and just don't understand, nor could I abide, the hovering families of today who can instantly contact each other via cellphone or whatever modern miracle. One of the draws of the Peace Corps for me and most m=of my friends in it was that it was thousands of miles away from anybody we knew. What better way to try on new "yous" and learn what you're made of?

Like I said, it's the frenetic work trip I don't like. The idea of living in another culture for a period of time is still exciting to me.

Kat said...

Ralph,
I love to travel and don't ever mind the hopping from place to place, but my 7 and 1/2 week trip through South American did teach me one thing: I hate to wash underwear.

Ralph said...

I can top that. I hate laundry on the road, period. We thanked our lucky stars that we could use laundromats in Australia and NZ. (And that was a peripatetic trip if there ever was one, come to think if it, and I loved it. Probably because the trip was by choice and I wasn't "on" all the time, unlike the work trips. And the hotels and restaurants were top flight.)

Mim said...

Ralph,
I've tried, I've really tried, but two days in a row blogger has eaten my comments.
It could be me I'm a little disconnected these days.
Hope you are both settling back in to life after the long business trip.
And that you received good realtor news!
Mim

Ralph said...

I got this one, Mim! Thanks for your wishes. The money news we got from the Realtor was good. Financially we can do it. Timing issue--the bank, work--are still scary.