Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Wind Knocked Right out of my Sails

        As the blood drains from my body, I struggle to utter something...anything. The Airline employee seizes the opportunity to interject: "The rules have changed. You are not going to London tonight. IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT!" She struggles to conceal her glee at my misfortune before stepping away. At this point, all I can taste is the bile in my mouth. 
        Backtrack three weeks: A dear friend, someone whom I met right here in Baltimore (when we were new mothers) arrives from England to visit her mother. Sadly, her mum has been very ill for a long time. This time, however, it seems more serious than before. She is constantly on dialysis. 
         Forward one week: My friend flies back to England. No sooner has she returned, when (while in a board meeting) she is overcome by an excruciating pain in her chest. Anxiety, she thinks. No, worse — a heart attack. In fact, it turns out to be more serious than that. She is rushed off to hospital with a collapsed lung. After a week of convalescing (and having her lung re-inflated), she is discharged and ready to resume her life. Particularly a business trip to Puglia, Italy. But this is not to be. The doctors turn her into an inverted no-flying zone, she is grounded for eight weeks. 
        Back in Syracuse, as fate would have it, her mother passes away. The timing couldn't be worse. After exhausting all avenues, my friend is left with one choice. To book a passage across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. 
        She invites me to accompany her. Because of the unprecedented amount of money we have just been forced to spend on our house (see this), I begrudgingly decline. We do not have a spare farthing. She insists however that the cabin is paid for. Turns out a berth for one on the Queen Mary is a berth for two. 
        We are to board the Queen Mary on a Friday and sail from Southampton to New York City. Seven days at sea. 
        While the origins of the voyage are laced with sadness, we both agree it is an opportunity of a lifetime. Several formal occasions call for gowns. In transatlantic unison, we plan outfits, daily gym sessions (so that we can eat the 12 scones with clotted cream at high tea). 
        Finally, the day has come. My husband and daughter drive me to Dulles. The hour and a half seems to take an eternity. 
        I drag my overweight suitcase onto the scale and scan my South African passport.
        I try again.
        It seems I have been dealt a final and solid Trudeau Salute (on behalf of my country) for leaving the Empire.
        I insist that South Africans do not need visas to visit London.
        Turns out, they do... 
        So...I am typing this not on the Queen Mary, but right here at home with an evening gown or two pathetically draped over my desk chair. 
        I am putting myself to bed for the week.
        Small mercy... my darling friend's husband has agreed to be her escort. Tux is being steamed as we speak.

        (To my darling J. My deepest condolences on the loss of your mother. You are in my thoughts. Bon Voyage).

Not to be (Queen Mary sailing into Manhattan)

Construction of the Queen Mary

Enclosed Promenade

Not to be - 'This is the life'

My Goyard Trunk (not)

From: Goyard Trunk by Assouline

From: Goyard Trunk by Assouline
Images from here, here and here


  1. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Oh no.......that is just so disappointing for both you and your sorry......xv

  3. Adversity seems to bring out the writer in you. Here's to more bad luck.