mad in pursuit journal


Ready for the Fair of Athlone*

I know I'm ready for this trip to Ireland. If we had to leave in an hour, I'd throw it all into my suitcase and go. But we have more than 24 hours before we have to get to the airport and I can think up countless fussy tasks.

Which tiny flashlight should I attach to my compass and whistle? Should I put these on a chain around my neck or should I attach them to my handbag? Should I add a good luck bead?

I spent hours on my trip journal notebook — not too big, not too small. 5 x 7-1/2, college-ruled, spiral at the top. Pasted in a calender, map, cousins' addresses/phones, flight info; got crafty and decoupaged a picture of my grandmother on the cover.

I'm not obsessive-compulsive, I swear. I think of myself as "preparing," not "planning." Nothing about this trip is nailed down except for the flights and the first night's hotel and heading for Sinead's house on Saturday. I worry less about where we'll stay than about knowing how to use my cell phone to call for a reservation.

"Planning" is trying to control the future, trying to eliminate all possibilities into a single well-paved path.

"Preparation," on the other hand, is about opening up possibilities. Travelling light. It's a state of mind: part know-how (e.g., the cell phone details) and part ... tranquility?

Right now I'm diddling more with the bottomless details of "know-how" — should I have Delta text-message me with any flight changes? But I'm not working on my ability to breathe in new experiences. It's easier to debate with myself about how many colored pens to take than to turn off the TV and read Irish history. Jim says this is what long airplane flights are for. He's probably right.


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* Whenever my Grandma Price thought someone was being nosy about where she was headed for, she'd say she was going to the Fair of Athlone.