Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I am in a hotel in Modesto, CA. They have hotels here. Which surprised me because I can’t figure out why anyone would visit. (My regrets tendered to Modesto residents.) For me the reason to be here is a two-day meeting. A make-up meeting. My company just launched a new drug (read: big deal) and I missed the gigantic launch meeting week before last. So: here now.

I missed the meeting because I was in Italy doing vacation things with my person. Jim and I left on a Saturday and returned the following Saturday. We landed in Milan and started the trip with a few days in an airbnb flat in with my sister, Mally, and her guys, Husband Nick and Child Sy. One of the days Jim and Nick went over to Switzerland to ski the Matterhorn. (Fancy, yes. They did not, however, get to ride the roller coaster through the famed peak and zip by the abominable snowman, therefore the day trip was only so-so.) Then Nick and Mal and kid left for their home in Belgium and Jim and I rented a car and headed three hours thataway to Venice. We stayed on Lido. We stayed in Venice. We stopped in Verona. We went back to Milan. We flew home.

JiMegan's Italy-visitor activities look like this—taking a shady taxi ride to our flat, a drive during which I passed out and Jim planned out how he was gonna save our lives when this driver pulled over to kill him and sell me into forced prostitution. Forget entirely about changing to an international cell plan before leaving the U.S. and finding ourselves without a way to get into our Milan home when we arrive. Walk to a studio to take a couple Bikram classes. Stroll to the Duomo in Milan where outside the cathedral Jim and Nick tell me that its ground floor houses a sit-down McDonald’s and, appalled, I believe them for a second. (They really rode the lie off the rails though when they said that it also had Europe’s only Chick-fil-A.) Completely melt the insides of my flat iron by plugging it into a 220V outlet without an adapter. Get me a new flat iron. Hit up a rad modern art museum in Venice. Wander into an art gallery where upon entering I immediately start making bets with myself as to how long until Jim nudges the art installation with his toe to see if it is secured to the ground. (I love that he loves to see how things work.) Trace our way through Verona looking for more above-average gelato.

Also, we got lost. We got stuck on Lido at 1AM and decided to just stay there for the night. Thus on one night of our trip we two had three hotel rooms: the flat in Milan that we’d rented for the week, a pre-paid hotel in Venice, and a hotel in Lido with Italy’s most delightful hotel clerk, Paulo.

A lil’ adventure made itself into a memory.

And of course we did what you do when you go on vacation of any kind really: sleep more than usual and eat too much. This body will be on its way back to my normal size for the next two weeks. Ah, discipline. (Frown.)

The trip wasn’t structured. It was unhurried. It was out of the country, so aside from the moments of WiFi here and there, I was cut-off from my at-home communications. Perhaps that was the best part—being away from everything with my husband. Because that was what I liked best, I’d really have been happy to vacation pretty much anywhere. I go places to be with my people. I got to spend a couple days with Mallory and her family. I got to bum around with my husband. The environment was unique and compelling, but being with my people is the reason to go. Friends ask, “Did you see this? . . . Did you go there? . . . Did you shop?” Yes, sort of, and not really. Because neither Jim nor I care all that much for what tour books call highlights. He’s the highlight. I’m the highlight. Our people are the highlight.

On our drive back to Milan Jim told me that I’m “a good little traveler,” a compliment that made me feel spectacular since doesn’t the stress of travel so often bring out the worst in people? It’s true I think, but see, Jim brings out the best in me. 

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