Day 1: Departing

Sixty seconds into the flight from MSP airport, our plane flies over south Minneapolis and there, just north and a little west of Lake Nokomis, is St. Joe’s Home for Children.

In early May, 1971, after a job interview on the first floor with a social worker named Tom Behr, I took a brief tour of the 3rd floor unit called Meagher Hall where I’d work if I got the job. At the end of the hallway was a linen closet, and there, on her knees rearranging its contents, was a woman named Robbie. Thirty four years and four months later, she’s in the window seat next to me as we make our way to Italy for a two week vacation.

I’m not sure how much time I’ll take to write about our trip while we’re there but since it’s been a while since I’ve done extensive journaling or reflective blogging, I’m thinking it might be interesting to do.

We’re on this trip due to the generosity of Tyson, our #2 son. He gave us a cruise on the Rhine River as a present, a token of his gratitude for our seeing him through a bad car accident and subsequent back surgeries. We tried to take the trip a couple of years ago but our daughter Gilly’s back surgeries derailed that.  Robbie’s pursuit of the recalcitrant trip insurance company finally paid off.

And after another year of figuring out a convenient time to go, we’re off to the Cinque Terre, an area of the Ligurian Riviera that I discovered online, only to find out that dozens of people we know have been there. None of them, however, stayed more than a few days so we generally got a jawdrop reaction when we’d tell we’d be there for 14.

I twice checked out Italian audiotapes from the library but only got through about 3 hours… not enough to really be helpful but psychologically, it’s made a difference. I picked up the Rick Steves’ Italian pocket dictionary/phrase book and I’m determined to use my attempts at the language as an ice breaker with the people we meet. I’ll look foolish, I’m sure, but hopefully it’ll be more on the endearing end of the scale and not the annoying.

I’m looking at the interactive map of the flight on the tv screen and it shows that we’re departing North America heading, heading out over the North Atlantic, about 4.5 hours from Amsterdam. Time to put on some warm socks, get started on the paperback I picked up last Saturday, The Perfect Storm, and experiment with the electronic pocket translator that Robbie bought. Ciao.