On August 3rd, against the proverbial odds, my Swedish Sweetheart and I were reunited once again by our mutual efforts and with the cooperation of complete strangers.It involved 3 passenger jets, an few changes in time zones, attention to detail, the stubborn perseverance and determination that goes with being even one half Swedish, and some measure of love and desire.
What’s that? You haven’t heard about Anna? The love of my life? Well, for the sake of brevity I could give you the abridged version, the one I give to those in my immediate vicinity, to include friends, business associates, store clerks and tech support people, or the longer, more detailed version.
Shorter? Okay, here it is. 1965 – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, decades pass. They reconnect using social media. Boy visits girl in country of her birth… 3 times in 3 years. Each time, he grows to love her more…to be continued….
Meanwhile, back at the Austin Airport (ABIA), I waited in line to present my papers only to be told that located to the right of the cordoned off area I had just walked through was a bank of computers to be used to swipe your passport, the new first step in the process. I tried, several times. On the last try, following exactly the directions on the screen, the computer printed up a statement saying it couldn’t do it. Aha! T’wasn’t me after all. Presenting this paper to the next clerical person, I stepped aside for him to try it himself. Oho! Further confirmation t’wasn’t me. Eventually, after a mini-conference behind the ticket counter, they verified my passport, passed my boarding pass to me and pointed in the direction of the next adventure.
After a short flight to Memphis and a short wait for the plane, a motley non-crew of passengers boarded for the 9 hour flight to Amsterdam. Before long I was reminded why I hadn’t flown, ridden a bus, or spent time in a “family restaurant” in years. Crying babies. And they all seemed to be sitting near me. I was, in effect, surrounded, and the ordeal began soon after take-off. If you’ve ever been engaged in an intimate conversation over a nice dinner at a find restaurant and abruptly interrupted by a pouting, screeching alien creature who just seconds earlier was as beatific as the Christ child, then you may be able to appreciate why some eateries ask diners with howling, possessed tots to leave. Such an option is, of course, not available when flying in a metal tube hundreds of feet in the air.
I have several suggestions to remedy such in-flight problems but will limit myself here to only the two I could think of that are legal and moral.
1) Ear plugs…the kind you have to mold to fit till you get a good seal, and
2) Follow that up with a set of headphones, the kind you buy at sporting goods stores to muffle the sound of gunshots.
As I didn’t have a pair of # 2’s, I wasn’t able to sleep on the flight as well as I would’ve liked, but thankfully, in Amsterdam, I found a solution.
No…not that. I’m talking about the area in the airport where faux forest scenery, including the sound of running water and tweeting birds, provided an unusually restful atmosphere for those travelers caught in a jet lag/time warp/ sleep deprived state of mind. I nodded out for a few hours on one of the many bean bag chairs found in the area.
Stepping off the plane in Sweden and retrieving my baggage, I found myself in an unanticipated dilemma. To save my Swedeheart from a four hour trip (one way) to pick me up, I was determined to find my own way to the train station which would provide me with a ticket to her hometown. However, the phone I’d been given by my service provider to use in Europe was just about out of juice. When I went to make a call to her, I found a text message that she was on her way, we had miscalculated the time differences and no trains were going her way at that time of night. I tried calling her again, but…no juice. I retrieved the assortment of plugs for Europe to be used in charging the phone, but didn’t recognize anything on the walls, that looked like a receptor. OK. Rather than risk and international incident by plugging something unusual looking into seemingly incompatible receptor, I walked over to an information booth and explained the problem. The lady there dialed my friend’s cell number on the info booth phone, and viola!!!. She had gone to the wrong terminal and would be at the right one soon. Time dragged, and just at the nadir of my despair, she walked into sight. Clouds parted, angels rejoiced, a tear or two was shed, hugs lingered, and we drove until after sunset, arriving at her home near midnite.
Moral? Problems are there to test you and make you stronger. If what you’re going for is worth it, you will find a way to overcome them…and help will come from unexpected sources. Just ask.
On assignment in Sweden