A month in England. Something I took for granted for three decades of my life, yet something I really enjoyed over the new year as a US resident. I nearly wasn’t a US resident for a minute there. I lost myself. It was almost time to call the Karma Police.
I started to pack about an hour before I was set to depart Austin for a month. The thing that really threw my packing was my inability to find my US resident card. The little piece of plastic that lets me back into the country again. Dagnabbit. It used to be that all I needed to see the world was a credit card, a passport and a clean pair of underwear. And a third of those things weren’t absolutely necessary. Now I need my little piece of immigration plastic too. Oh, and traveling with two children in diapers and my Texan bride means that I have to take a stroller, three suitcases the size of Guam, a car seat, and four laptops. Oh, and a travel cot and two travel tents. Indoor ones. For the kids.
The vast amount of luggage was even more laughable when we took a jaunt over to Barcelona via a discount airline who mislabels Girona as Barcelona. Now I like Girona, the place has special meaning for me as it was there that I decided to come to Austin. Great place. Big walls, small streets, lots of hills and old stone steps. Which is great when you get dropped off at the top of a long flight of stairs with your three bags, travel cot, sick wife, confused children and jumbo stroller by a Catalan spewing taxi driver, who claimed (as far as I can tell) that the streets were too narrow for his minivan, and that it would be no more than two minutes walk to our accommodations.
Two minutes if you knew which way to go and didn’t have to solve the complex problem of trying to keep your kids, bags and wife all in happy, happy, joy, joy land of the living and unstolen states. The eternal staging problem that keeps the fox from eating your children.
It really was like a moment from National Lampoons Europe Vacation (or at least what I imagine that movie is like – I don’t think I could bear to see any more American preconceptions of Europe. Yes, it’s small and dingy. But my secondary school is older than your country)
The adventure continued in Girona with the realization that there were no 24-hour megalo-marts open on New Years Day or the following day, Domingo. And with 1 nappy left to contain the squits and squirts of two little people (children not hobbits), a diaper mart had to be found with only a minimal grasp of a related language. It’s amazing how far you can get by waving a clean nappy at a taxi driver.
The Europe trip was mental. I gained 12 pounds, lost one relative, drove through snow, ploughed into a neighbor’s yard, had a car thief drop a torch in my car (while taking nothing), got a transportation letter from the US Embassy in London with a $200 discount, aka free, and spent six hours pinned to a plane seat by the vomit of my progeny. If I had to sum it up in a single word, I’d probably go for “mega”. No-one says that any more.
How did he gain 12 pounds? I hear you ask. A pork pie by any other name should taste so savory. I would probably narrow it down to a few things. Namely: Twix, Star Bar, Yorkie (It’s not for girls), Topic, Flake, Smarties, Mince Pies, Crunchie, Kit Kat, Fudge, Mars Bar, Snickers, Dairy Milk, Creme Egg, Boost, Chocolate Orange, Caramel, Lion Bar, Swiss Rolls and Frys Peppermint.
Things I left uneaten: Curly Wurly, Penguin, Viscount, Club, Tunnocks Tea Cake. My tummy demands a rematch. English chocolate, I’m not done with you.