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May You Always Travel (One Way or Another)

Posted by Deborah Bergman on

"Do you travel a lot?" asked the woman who came up to me while I stood at the edge of the display table at a trunk show in Portland.  

"Well yeah," I said after a second, smiling. Because until that moment she had been a complete stranger, but now, poof, like that, she knew me. "I did for years. And a thin, light weight shawl always came along."

In those years, my favorite was a black rectangle trimmed with soft, tiny pom-poms on either end. It went with me from the States, to various locations in Spain, Austria, probably to Russia, Amsterdam, and to Spain a couple more times until it was finally lost forever in an overhead bin on a flight from Paris to Barcelona en route home.

How did that happen? How, after all those years, did it vanish? As well we might ask at the ends of relationships of all kinds. Sometimes, they just slip silently away, courtesy of some meek and unassuming loophole or other expertly buried in the endless fabric of space-time.

In this particular case, I had let a stranger very kindly lift my things out of that overhead bin for me. I didn't double-check the bin afterward for items that might have, as they say, settled in flight. Because, really, that would have been a rude way to acknowledge that man's deliberate and efficient kindness.

Which was in direct contrast to the actions of the gentleman friend who had just dropped me off at the airport in Paris after assuring me he would make sure I was at the exact gate before he ever took his eyes off of me. But, instead, had actually somehow let me out at the curb at the wrong terminal entirely.  

I missed my original flight, at which point it became incumbent upon me not only to trot myself and my bags to an entirely different and decidedly non-contiguous terminal, but also to book an entirely fresh ticket on the spot.

So I was also perhaps a bit distracted at the time.

And so it was that the beloved black shawl that had accompanied me for years vanished from my life.

I called the airline lost and found maybe four or five times. It was one of those lost and founds where you just leave a message as instructed by an echoing recording. And where that strange echo very pointedly and efficiently lets you know your message is being left in some recondite tiled chamber behind some obscure stairwell in the bowels of an airport where metal shelves are chock full of necessary or precious items for which no one is actually still searching. Then there is nothing to do but wait. To see. If anyone ever returns your call.

You might say I've been waiting a few years now.

But once in a while I still reach for that shawl.  

I never told my gentleman friend that he had left me at the wrong terminal entirely. This was, not surprisingly, a harbinger that this nascent connection of ours was not long for this world.

But never mind that.

Oh, the places that black wrap took me. Or I took it.  

I can't even begin to tell you.  

If you travel, want to take a wrap along?

And likewise if you just take a wrap--anywhere you go, are already traveling.

So I loved it that my new customer picked up one of my pieces and that it told her the real story of my traveling. That story being---always take a wrap that loves you along.

May you be always be well covered when you travel. And may you always be well-covered whether your travels take you to the grocery store, or the shores of Mauritius (where I have never been), or to the entrance of a Tuscan castle turned vineyard on the edge of an unexpected thunderstorm in May. Where you suddenly come upon identical four vintage Alpha Romeos in jellybean colors lined up neatly before a stand of arborvitae in the dusty, empty parking lot.

As you regard their spectacular and intentional symmetry, heat lightning begins to flash off in the distance. It is maybe twenty minutes after high noon.

"It can't possibly rain," says your companion, who is local, and older and distinguished and humble and has lived there all his life. You've just met him.  He's being kind of polite, showing you around.

"But it's going to," you say.

And it does. But who cares. It's gorgeous and strange. And by then you are eating fried squash blossoms, barely six inches from all that thunderous excitement, under an awning somewhere in town.

And there I have been. In that castle parking lot. And six inches from that lightning storm. With a light, strong, large wrap in my bag.

May you always be well covered when you travel. And if it's with a DBD piece -- well then, that's very nice.

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