Dumped by Travel

It’s Friday and I am willing myself a day off. We’ve had about two weeks of rain and thunderstorms. We’re sometimes offered a half an hour of blue and it’s then that we run outside to walk around the park or to bask in the sun.

But today it’s just blue. A few fluffy clouds, warm in the sun, cool in the shade. I close my laptop, a thing which draws gasps from those in my flat, and we venture out.

I prepare. Daypack. Hand sanitizer. Tissues. Hat. Mask. Sunglasses. Sweater and windbreaker. I clip my nails and adjust my sandals. I do some stretches at the door. I tell the cat not to wait up.

While I seem to exist in my normal life as a kind of human turtle who enjoys beer, the summer usually means travel. We’ll venture to another country, spend out days walking around a city or towns, learning about a culture and comparing them to the Czechs. Sometimes it’ll be a little more adventurous: Asia, Africa, a few thrilling encounters which – if I stretch them and add some quasi-fictitious details – almost become a brush with death. It’s enough to sustain me until the next summer and I typically get back in my shell and sip a pilsner.

With Captain Corona still running around the planet, we’ve decided to sit this year out. It’s OK at the moment, but who knows what it’ll bring and I don’t want to be an airplane or a bus ride from home should a bunch of proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan. So this year we have decided on a quiet summer in Prague. There’s lots to do and see here that we often overlook. When was the last time we went out to look at the paneláks of Prague 8 or Prague 9? Oh, there’s much to see.

Today we’ve decided to go to a beer garden near the Břevnov Monastery. We’ve been to the monastery before and the brewery at the monastery. The people are nice. Though, I suppose, monks are not usually known for their cruel treatment of those paying for their beer and ribs. I have always been impressed with monks. They decide to sit out the day to day grind and instead spend their time wearing robes, praying, telling people about their pallet, and drinking beer. Not a bad life.

The monastery brewery is hosting a wedding today, so we pass it for a small beer garden on the main road. This brewery is off the road, but at 4 pm on a Friday it’s totally empty but for a couple of people. We sit near a man and his dogs and get into chatting about all sorts of things – Czech idioms, the history of the monastery, Chevy Chase. Even though we live a short 20 minute walk away it occurs to me that we are acting as though we are on a trip. We ask the man questions about our own neighborhood, listen intently. We are loose, friendly, and relaxed.

I get back to the table. We laugh loud and long. I buy our compadre a beer for helping me with my Czech idioms. The waitress makes a joke and we explode in laughter. I don’t have a care in the world. We are having a lovely time and I feel great having beers outside after three months indoors.

In the bathroom, the real world pokes its head in. I open doors with my feet and rely on a hands-off aiming system. When someone comes in I subtly hold my breath. I wash my hands twice and open the door with the paper towel.

Once back outside, the place is like a calypso bar again. It’s filled up, the mood is light. Everyone seems pretty happy to be outside. We drink for another hour, say goodbye to our new friend and wander off into the late afternoon. We get on the tram, don our masked apparel, and decide on a pickled cheese outside at our local.

The day is lovely. One of the more pleasant in recent memory. We talk about it for a day and a half. That guy was so nice. We have to go back to that beer garden. Just sitting there on the main road!

I feel as though I have been dumped by travel. All I want to do in the summer is travel to a new place and then go see my family and I can’t do either of those things. Though I don’t torture myself often, I will occasionally come across a picture of the Swedish countryside or Marrakesh – the two locations we planned on this year. They turn their noses up at me as if to say: sorry buddy. It’s over. I almost teared up scrolling through a picture gallery of the empty Jersey Shore towns. Knowing that in a perfect world, I’d be there with my family in two months, enjoying crab, a light atmosphere, and the kind of mind-boggling array of emotions that being with my family evokes.

With all the pain and suffering being caused by this thing, not being able to travel is itty bitty potatoes. But I’m striving for a metaphor, so shove off!

I guess when we’re dumped (and don’t want to be) the first thing we do is fret over what we’ve lost, then we bemoan the things we’re missing out on. We’d be visiting my family this month…, Oh, woe is me, we were going to buy that dust buster together! In the meantime, you go out on the occasional date with someone you’re not interested in and pretend that you’re having a good time. And finally, you just get on with your life.

I guess I’m in those last two phases. I know what I’d like to be doing this summer, but I’ve come to terms with reality. I won’t have the summer I want. There’s no hiking in Sweden or UNESCO towns in Morocco. No Cape May, no crab cakes. I’ll be in Prague, enjoying her beer gardens, walking around her parks, using her bathroom with my feet. Maybe travel and I will start seeing each other next year or maybe it’ll be the year after, who knows? Until then, it’s Prague. Which isn’t exactly a bad date to be on.

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