Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life is today; life is now - and traveling with Myeloma (or any cancer) is (in my opinion) very important

I'm having a Dex day and I'm unable to sleep. It's pushing 2:00AM and here I am, writing. On my Dex days and the day after, I take Ambien to help me sleep. Tonight, that isn't working. At least I'm not Ambien shopping this time (yet) but I am eating cookies (bad).

Earlier today, William asked me why I took so many grand trips. I had to think about it to give him an articulate and well-thought answer. "Because life is today; life is now. I hope I have many, many years ahead of me. But who knows? Who knows how much time any of us have? And as long as I can do this, it's important to me. I want to see and experience everything-- from my Utah back yard to Europe and everything in between. It matters. I want my daughters to be raised not remembering the first time they were on a plane, or went to another country, or to their first ballet, Broadway play, opera, symphony, good cinema, or museum. I want it to simply be part of who they are as people. I want them to know that the world is big. People live very different lives. The world is diverse and they should appreciate it and explore it.

I think my answer resonated because a few hours, we all had finalized our trip to Italy-Greece-Turkey and Croatia, with the girls and I stay behind an additional two weeks to visit Northern Italy and Switzerland. Done deal!

Photo: My best pals

I grew up with an intense interest in life outside of California, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Oregon. For whatever reason, I was most interested in New York City (which I visited the first time when I was in college and then countless times since then) and Moscow. I had such a desire to visit Russia that I was almost obsessed with it. I had to see the Kremlin and GUM and the Stalin area buildings. I wanted to see the Bolshoi. I wanted to visit Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and visit the Hermitage, and Peterhoff, and Marinski Theatre. In eighth grade, I started pulling books off the shelf about Russian history and culture. I couldn't read enough about the larger than life characters: Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great (my hero), the Romanoff Family, Peter the Great (a nut, but a genius), Stalin (the Anti Christ, more evil than Hitler), Lenin, Nakita Kruschev, Dostoevsky (who I read endlessly in college, or so it seemed-- hello Crime & Punishment three times!). Tchakovski. Nitche. So many that I could keep writing and writing.

I went to Russia the first time on vacation in July 1999. White Knights. It was amazing. We were in St Petersburg. Two years later, we went back to Moscow, Vilikiy Novgorod, and Borovhichi. We were there for a week to pick up Morgan. I'm not sure I put the camera/camcorder down for more than a few minutes. We went to the original kremlin in Novgorod. It was a beautiful city. The country road from Moscow to St Petersburg was fascinating. I cried when I left Russia. I wanted to stay longer and explore more. I went with Bob on my third trip for a week. Yekaterinburg-- on the border of the Ural mountains. We went to the area where we could put one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. We stumbled upon one story after the next that carried mostly Cerruti, Chanel, Prada and Dior. And lot of jewels. We had the most amazing mushroom soup ever. We saw the cathedral that was erected over the home where the Romanoff family was executed. We saw more churches. We ate great food. We flew home.

My fourth trip was also with Bob. This time we stayed several days in Moscow touring the city and exploring by foot on our own, too. Everything is dedicated to Pushkin or the wars. It was as beautiful as I remembered it. We went in St Basils Cathedral. We walked and walked and walked. And at the best Italian food at Mama's in Moscow. Then we went to Yekaterinburg and bonded with Siena and went to court and flew home.

On my fifth trip, I went with Peggy (Rob's mom) and we went to Yekaterinburg to get custody of Siena and then flew to Moscow where we met up with my parents and Morgan who were eagerly waiting our arrival at the Marriott Grand, about three blocks from Red Square. We went to McDonalds in Red Square and Sbarro (Stalin is turning over in his grave). We visited cathedrals, the zoo, museums, monuments and shopping. We swam a lot at the Marriott pool and spent $45 on a child's cheeseburger, French fries, and small soda. Moscow is outrageously expensive. And the shopping there? It's Rodeo Drive on crack.

My fifth trip there was last summer. The girls and I went to St Petersburg. I think that there may be something to the belief of reincarnation. I must have been a former Bolshevik soldier. What else would explain my love of Russia. I ache for them. I miss it. I feel kinship.

But I went extremely off track. My point is: myeloma has really ingrained in me some new beliefs. I mean, I always had the beliefs but now I intensely live my beliefs. And one of those beliefs is "life is now."

So to that end, we finalized our trip this summer. We are flying to Venice in late May and getting on a one week cruise from Venice to Croatia, Greece and Turkey. Then we get back to Venice. William has to fly to Atlanta right after the cruise. The girls and I don't have that commitment so we are taking rail to Milan and heading to Northern Italy (mostly the lakes) with three extra days in Lake Como where my mother's ancestors are all from, and Switzerland. We fly home from Milan. Three weeks of eating gelato and delicious pizza and maybe getting fat. Except as long as I'm next to William, I think we'll be getting exercise and making good (better) food choices so maybe I won't come back with a new watermelon inside my tummy.

So with that announcement, I'll be researching all our stops so I know what we must see and what we can just enjoy by foot or just stay in the ocean. And brushing up on a few Italian basics, like:

Amore (love)
bacio (kiss)
cibo (food)
coccolare (cuddle)
entrare a letto (get to bed)
acqua (water)
buoanote (goodnight)

And with that, I wish you all a buoanote. I hope you're all sleeping, though I'm not. But I am excited about our trip overseas. I think this will be our last to Europe for awhile. Next year, it'll be something like Dominican Republic, Chile, Iceland, Beijing, or Singapore. Maybe Easter Islands, Dubai, or The Azores. Someplace different and very unique (for me anyway). But this year, it's Italy (I've been to Rome only), Switzerland (I've been to Zurich and Geneva for a week); Greece, Turkey and Croatia will all be knew for me. When we get back, I will have been to 24 countries, Morgan 16, Siena 15 (not bad for 13 and 8 years old respectively).

Oh, right, this time I mean it: buoanote.