For some, vacations are a time to relax and enjoy doing, well, whatever.  If you overplan it, it wouldn’t be a vacation, right?  Spend a week, maybe two, checking out the sights, trying restaurants, seeing what’s fun and interesting, not a care in the world.

Only a few days ago I tried to be romantic and tried to carry Gillian up the stairs in my arms.  I had visions of whisking her off the sofa, twirling her around, and toes barely touching the carpet carry her to the bedroom.

Unfortunately I went insane and thought it was okay to try lifting her with my back instead of my legs.

“Are you okay, sweetie?”
“Umph… I’m… I’m fine.  Let me get you upstairs…”
“You don’t sound fine.”
“May…maybe I should piggyback you up instead…”

I barely managed to do that.  By the top I was almost on my knees, panting and wheezing from the pain, but I managed not to show it too much.  I doubt she noticed me curl up in the corner and whimper myself to sleep.

Okay, I exaggerate, but not much.  The stupid sofa is MUCH lower than most sofas, and so even with my legs bent I had to use my back far more than I expected, and paid the price.  The pain didn’t really kick in until the next day, and the day after, and today.  I was noticing how the twinge in my lower back still hurt like heck when I noticed the door to the laundromat was ajar.  I figured I’d go down and fix it, when my sock slipped a bit, enough for me to lose my footing and


Hmmm, I think twisted like a pretzel at the bottom of the stairs, let’s see, back still hurts?  Check.  New injuries?  Elbow, check.  Forearm, check.  Hip, check.  Butt, double check.  Thigh, check.

This did not put me in a good mood for the start of my vacation today.  Of course, I’ve been having a bad feeling about this for the past week.  You see, three years ago Gill and I were supposed to go to Amsterdam for three or four days.  In what in later years became known as “The Amsterdam Fiasco,” we discovered all too late that someone had lost their passport.  I’m not going to name names, but there were only two of us involved in this and IT WASN’T ME!

We later found the passport months later, after it had been canceled it and we had to buy a new one.  The train and hotel tickets were non refundable.  It was, in short, the most expensive vacation we’ve never been on.

So you can understand that, three years later, I’m not completely convinced that this isn’t going to happen again somehow.  We’ve been extra cautious.  Gillian’s passport was kept under lock and key for the past month.  Copies of all relevant reservations (train and hotel) are stored on my Gmail and Gillian’s as well as hard copies kept together in a folder.  Both cell phones were fully charged so we would not get lost today (we have to meet at the train station after work without going home first).  Months ago we even bought city guides for Lille and Amsterdam and I still had my phrase book to help deal with any language barrier we came up against.

Which it seemed I had now lost.

The thrown out back I could deal with, the tumble down the stairs I could look past, but this?  We all have our limit before the tiniest thing pushes us over the limit.  This was mine.  Rushing up and down the stairs with a battered and bruised body, this final piece of our preparations insisted on staying hidden.  Now, it’s not that big a deal.  It’s easy enough to buy these again.  But it’s the principal of the matter that bothered me.

When Gillian got her raise and I finally had a job that gave me paid vacation time, I said “Forget about cost.  We’ll try to get the whole trip cheaply but I’m not going to worry too much about it.”   It seemed like the stress-free alternative.  But there is only so far I go with a “forget about cost” attitude.  Re-buying books I already had was right out.  I didn’t care if their combined value was only 15 pounds, I was NOT going to buy them AGAIN!

I suspect Gillian, poor gentle soul that she is, felt rather helpless in all this as I tore around the apartment like a wolfman who had been shot a thousand times by angry town villagers, though without a single silver bullet among them.  AROOOOOOOOO!  She probably still heard me howl and snarl as she walked to work with her baggage.

Again, I exaggerate.  But it’s funny how my bad back (which has been making me miserable for three days) and the fall down the stairs (which hurt my ego as much as my body) failed to frustrate me, yet the loss of these pocket guides did.  We probably won’t even use them much!

In the end I did find them, the travel guides buried under shoes and the phrase book buried under more books.

Then I got to stagger to the bus stop in my battered body with all my travel gear, to spend the next eight hours wondering if another Amsterdam Fiasco is still going to somehow happen.

When does the fun start?  Better question, when does the hurting stop?