Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There was a girl I knew- We weren’t exactly what I would call friends but I definitely knew her. Actually, anyone who had ever spent any time around her couldn’t not know her. She shined- she made her presence known- and she left her mark.

She was a year older than me- more beautiful than I was, far more intelligent than I could ever hope to be, and one of the most audacious people I had ever met. If I am to be completely honest, I wouldn’t exactly call her kind- at least not to me. We were on the same debate team and I must have struck a nerve with her, as I was consequently the target of a decent amount of cruelty. 
Nonetheless, I continued to admire her. She was one of those people who, regardless of what they did, one still respects them. Moreover, I think I was in awe of her.

I never saw her again after she graduated and went off to college. Although I did hear that she went to the best Universities in America for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Every so often, I would see her photo or name pop up on some social network and the same feeling of admiration and regret would well up in me. Other than that however, she was only a memory- a memory with both good and bad elements.

My notion of this girl was as simple as that- a name from my past. Until last week, however- when I found out that she had died. It was a long battle with cancer and it changed everything- she was no longer that girl who wasn’t exactly my friend. Instead, she became a tragedy- and I lost sleep for a week.

The funny thing is that I would like to believe that if we knew each other now- we would be friends. I’m not so sure we would’ve crossed paths again- but it doesn’t matter anymore- because we will never have the chance. And that, to me, is a great loss.

I’ve been reading what people write about her- eulogies, quotes, anecdotes. Although when people pass away we tend to idealize them- there is truth to the many of the portrayals of her – mostly descriptions of her strength and her radiance. 
Even I saw it.

Louise had a fire inside of her- she emanated light- she was as feisty as they come. She seems to have brightened up any and every life she touched. She could not be ignored. She had a joie de vivre that many people can only hope for and she never missed a beat. Although her life was cut short, she lived every moment fully and I doubt she ever regretted anything. I can only hope to live my life as well as she lived hers.

So I suppose this is my goodbye. 
Goodbye Louise. You will be missed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Comforts of Home

I booked my ticket to Barcelona. I’m moving to Spain and there’s no turning back now (not that there was really any turning back when I paid my school deposit- But that’s immaterial). Therefore, in about one week- I will say goodbye to my life as I know it and begin anew. 

Before I get totally weepy eyed about all that I am leaving behind, there are a few things that come to mind as I think about what I will be gaining. Beyond all the givens- like having experiences I will look back on for the rest of my life- there are some aspects of this move that are comforting to think about as I struggle to fit my life into a few suitcases.

First and foremost, I will have a home. It’s been a while. Come to think of it, I haven’t lived in one place for longer than a few months in over two years.

I’d like to consider myself easily adaptable and therefore, I believe I have made a life for myself in each city I have inhabited in the past but- still. I haven’t had a home.

There are the small things that we take advantage of when we do have mortgages or leases… I know I never appreciated them. Instead, I complained about how “stuck” I felt. It was as if my things were keeping me where I was- and not my desires. This time however, its different. This time- I’m moving somewhere, for a set period of time, on my terms.

I can’t wait to have a local bank account, a blender, my own sheets that I know I will be sleeping in a year from now. I can’t wait to have a hairdryer that won’t require a converter.

I will have a local grocery store, a coffee shop whose menu I will see enough times to memorize, take-out menus on my fridge- I’ll have a fridge!  

I’ll have shelves filled with my own books- the books that I’ve loved- the books I’ll have read over and over and the ones that will bring me back to a certain place at a certain time when I touch their spines.

I’ll have photos- in frames that aren’t swathed in bubble wrap- of people I know and adore. Ill have a mailing address that isn’t “Care Of” someone else.

I’ll have a “shoe guy” to fix my worn out soles and a regular hideaway to ease my soul.

I’ll be able to buy monthly metro cards instead of single rides and I’ll have stable Internet access- no more stealthily stealing neighbors’ connections or WiFi hunting.

I’ll have bills. Not that I’m sooo looking forward to bills- but at least they’ll be mine.

I’ll have a local doctor that will remember my name and a regular salon that will remember my hair.

When someone asks me directions, I’ll know what to tell them- instead of shrugging my shoulders and explaining that I’m a tourist too.

I’ll unpack my bags. Completely. For the first time in years. 

I’ll be a local. Eventually. Regardless of how long it takes to consider myself a local- I’ll know that it’s coming- and booking my flight there was only the beginning.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Diaper Dilemma

Residing amongst friends with children has its advantages and disadvantages.

The disadvantages being; feeding schedules, early bed times, babysitting duties, dirty nappies, snotty noses, I could go on…

The advantages? Well- maybe something will come to me eventually.

I changed my first diaper the other day. This, for me, was a massive accomplishment- especially seeing as though I was totally blindsided by the whole event. Talk about mental unpreparedness…

My friend Hannah was over with her adorable three month old, Ethan. We were enjoying a quiet cup of tea and a bit of gossip- when the time came for her to pick her five year old up from school. Our boys (husbands, boyfriends, etc..) were meant to be home from training within 10 minutes, so I told Hannah to leave the baby with me until his father got home. I didn’t think it would be much of a problem. Five minutes- I can handle. Or so I thought…

Jump ahead forty minutes and the boys are still not home and Hannah is still away…I suppose the carpool line was longer than expected.

I have to admit, Ethan is a great baby- happy, cuddly, smiley…just the kind of baby I don’t mind being left with me for a few minutes.

Until….of course…I smelled something a little foul. I knew it could only be one thing. 

I decided to leave it (for the good of myself AND the baby) until his parents got home. Unfortunately, the more time that passed, the worse the smell became. I sprayed some perfume and slid the baby seat away a few feet- while eyeing him to make sure nothing funny came out of his nose or mouth. I thought I was in the clear until he began to cry and then my (so-called) maternal instinct kicked in and I thought about how cruel it would be to leave any living being stewing in ones own shit. 

So I picked Ethan up- located the wipes and a clean diaper- and we had a bit of a pep talk as I laid him down on the carpet. It went a little something like this;

Me; Ok, darling…this is my first time so hold on tight.

Ethan; Silence

Me; I’m sorry if I don’t do a good job, but I promise to do my best.

Ethan; Silence

Me; I guess this is a first for you and I both, Ethan.

Ethan; Silence

Me; OK…here goes! Don’t do anything funny, now.

Ethan; Silence.

I took the diaper off and saw one of the most horrendous sights I have ever seen (and smelled one of the worst things I have ever smelled). I felt like gouging my eyes out and stuffing them up my nose. What lay before me were swirls of bright green and yellow god-knows-what, and it was EVERYWHERE…. Five wipes later and it was still all over his legs and bum.

Ethan; Giggles

Morgan; This is bad, Ethan. Was that REALLY necessary?

Ethan; More giggles

In the middle of deciphering between the front and the back of the diaper- the cat walks in and pukes on the floor right next to the baby….as if matters couldn’t get any worse. I yelled, the baby started crying, and the parents were still gone.

In the end though- Ethan was cleaned up with a new diaper fastened on (right way forward as well) and everyone involved survived the experience (except the cat, really.)

So, back to my point. The advantages? I figured it out: the constant reminder of how wonderful my life is sans children.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Express Egypt

I suppose it’s a bit ambitious to think that one is capable of covering an entire country in the space of eight days- but I can't be faulted for trying.

With that said, I believe I did a pretty good job of it- despite not sleeping, not showering, planes, trains, boats, and the sheer exhaustion of it all. 
I could have spent another month in Egypt and still not seen everything I wanted to see- but one deals the best they can with what they are handed. As for me- I was handed a little over a week, a Lonely Planet guidebook, and a credit card (oh…my poor credit card…)The original itinerary was fanciful to begin with-
however, it was not only followed, it was stretched- stretched so far that it probably should have snapped and fallen completely apart.
I may be catching up on sleep for the next few weeks but I wouldn't have changed a moment of
the trip. Should anyone find themselves with a week to spare in the Northeast corner of the African continent, I highly reccommend the following:

Day 1; Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, Sakkara pyramids, private tour of Coptic Cairo, the hanging chu
rch, Abu Serga and Ben Ezra, mezze for lunch in the Islamic quarter, Khan-el-Khalili bazaar. Overnight train to Aswan. Day 2; Tour of Aswan; unfinished obelisk, high dam, Philae temple, boat ride to Nubian village. Dinner and cruising aboard a felucca along the Nile, bonfire on the beach at night, overnight on the felucca.

Day three; Visit by bus to the two temples of Abu Simbel. Transport
 (by boat or bus) to Luxor. 
Tour of Luxor; Karnak temple, Luxor temple, the sights in between. Stroll along the Corniche before dinner, a bit of          souking, and finally a long and deservedly relaxing dinner- followed by sheesha in a local coffee house.

Plane or bus (I recommend the 1 hour plane, as opposed to the
 many hour bus) to Sharm el Sheikh. Day 4; Transport from Sharm to Dahab.

Days 4,5,6; SCUBA SCUBA SCUBA- a three day course diving in some of the most beautiful reefs of the Red Sea- with the backdrop of the Sinai mountains.
Dahab (meaning Gold- like the mountains that surround it and the beaches it is b
uilt on) is like a little known treasure only about an hour trip from Sharm (but I am just as happy leaving the English-speaking drunks and fast food chains behind in Sharm.)

Day 7; Sunrise climb up to Mt. Sinai (where Moses received the commandments- for those of you who skipped Sunday school)- and a tour of St. Catherine's Monastery.
Day 8; Return to Sharm, Fly to Cairo, and pack it in.


Ultimately, part of me does regret not seeing everything I wanted to see- especially because I was RIGHT THERE- but worst-case scenario- I go back to Egypt one day. 

And that wont take much convincing…

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am back from Egypt and to my mother’s astonishment- with all my limbs intact. 

The entire experience was not one of those trips that changes you, but a trip that demonstrates to you how much you have changed. It confirmed a difference I have established in myself between wide-eyed innocence and seasoned traveler…a modification in my character that has taken place over a number of years. 

It isn’t fearlessness, as I once thought it was- but a balance of enough trepidation to keep you safe and enough boldness to ensure freedom- to breathe in everything the world is offering- to learn. It is a matter of not troubling oneself with others’ opinions but making sure they know you respect them…to stop sweating the small stuff and learning from the big stuff.

It’s all about balance in the end- like everything else in life. Only traveling is an art- and the balance is found through enough experience of being imbalanced.

Egypt was incredible…it was the perfect “final hurrah” before the big move to Spain…a goodbye to who I am now, and all the things that formed me. 

Egypt was a celebration of everything to come, united with a commemoration of everything that has been. 
And in the middle of it all- I laughed, I learned, I definitely cried, and I lived.

Thank you to those of you who shared the experience with me…I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Camels Schmammels...

I’m going to Egypt on Friday. 
On my own. 
It was one of those last minute decisions where the impending doom of being a student again and later, the possibility of giving my life back over to some soulless corporation- freaked me out.
So I booked a trip…spending more money than I have to my name, and to a country that is less than desirable (so I hear) to travel as a solo, female, backpacker. 

The moment I clicked “purchase ticket,” Michael got upset with me. 
Beyond (understandably) wanting me to stay with him through my final weeks before moving to Spain, he told me, amongst other things, that I am being frivolous.
What disturbed me the most though, is when he said to me, “sometimes I feel like you just go places and do things to be able to say you have done them.” 

My blood was boiling- and then I actually thought about it, and there is a slight possibility that I was so angry because I fear that it’s true. 

I’m not intending to get all philosophical here- although certain questions come to mind- such as “why do we do the things we do?” and “is our happiness solely dependent on others’ admiration or approval?” but these are questions for another post- at another time- or a discussion with good friends over good wine. Now is not the time.

I will however say that I have a list- a long list of things to do and places to go before I kick it. And as anyone with a good list would understand, the Pyramids of Giza are right at the top. And a little lower; diving in the Red Sea. 
My list goes through phases…sometimes I am ticking things off left and right and at other times, there’s a lull. I pulled my list out the other day and noticed an extended tickless interval-this bothered me- so I booked Egypt. 

Yes, I am going to Egypt because I need to go there to be able to “say” I have done it. But the difference between Michael’s accusation and the reality of the situation is that I am not going to say I have gone to appease anyone else- I am going so that I know I have done it- So I can cross it off my list with the knowledge that it’s one more thing I have wanted, tried, and achieved- in my lifetime. 
Can I really be blamed for that? I didn’t think so.

Another reason for this spur-of-the-moment, nonsensical trip- is testing myself- to see if I can still “do it.”
Despite my failure to admit or recognize it, I am getting older (no, I’m not menopausal- but I am no longer an 18 year old who can stay in dirty hostels befriending skydiving instructors, sharing lockers with bartenders) - and with this ageing process, comes complacency. 
I’ve also been in a great relationship for over two years- with a wonderful person who takes care of me- takes care of things….which leaves less for me to take care of on my own- and after years of being the audacious, self-sufficient, adventurous person I was- sometimes I fear that I’ve become only a shadow of that person. Therefore, I go and do things like this- run around Egypt- sweaty and nervous- by myself. When, in fact, I could be comfortably sitting in the arms of my boyfriend in a beautiful coastal town of England, absolutely content.

Human nature is a funny thing. My nature is somehow worse than average. 

Even so, two days from now I’LL BE RIDING A CAMEL NEXT TO ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD and I can’t freakin’ wait!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"perpetually dissatisfied"

Below is a quote from one of my favorite books- High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. I read it a few times back in college, but my best friend is in the middle of it now. She sent me an e-mail this morning with the quote mentioning, "I came across this line that is soooo you." The interesting thing is, I remember that when I read the book, I thought the same exact thing. 
I suppose some things never change.

"Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb
emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel
merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically,
head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve
within a stable, solid relationship."

Firstly, this applies to all relationships- lovers, friends, even relationships with inanimate objects. Relationships with myself. Secondly, I wouldn't wish this condition on my worst enemy. It's actually quite the curse.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bring It On

Michael has finally made the move down to Torquay on the "English Riviera." 

I've come with him- for the time being- and will integrate myself into his life until I make my move to Spain. Therefore, I have the opportunity to become a part of his world here before I’ve become, once again, only a visitor.

It's funny- this football thing. 
Being the girlfriend of a player, I am privy to the entire “footballing existence.” We came here and our new life was packaged, tied with a bow, and handed to us without a second thought. Michael has his teammates, which in turn, will become his best mates (for the most part). I have their wives and girlfriends, who will become my friends (whether they like it or not). The places I will go, the activities I will partake in, the stores I will shop in, the restaurants I will eat in, are each already pre-ordained.

There is a certain kinship implicated in the commitment here: the lads have all been through the ringer once, twice, or five times…moving from city to city, becoming a part of a team- a team that can be considered a family. And then they are often abruptly transferred or moved to another, entirely altered, family. They must rent out their homes, move all their belongings, and find new houses in which to live- totally alone.

I remember when I first met Michael and we were driving by a random restaurant in a random town just North of London, and he told me that he had eaten in that restaurant alone for a few months when he was just 19. This was because he had signed with a team and would travel down on his own and stay four nights a week. I thought this was the saddest thing I’d ever heard- I just imagined little Michael, sitting in an empty restaurant all by himself, eating dinner over and over again- with the one waitress taking pity on him and filling his coke glass up for free.

However- this is not the case. As Michael told me when he saw how upset I had become, “It is what it is. It’s not lonely, it's just something that has to happen sometimes. No biggie.” 

So it would follow that all these new friends, this immediate camaraderie, everything that is involved in signing with a new club- is “no biggie.” 
And as a result, I’m taking it in stride too. Bring it on.