Happy Place

I wake up on a pullout couch bed. It’s dark, but I can make out the contours of Philadelphia Eagles regalia. There’s also a basketball hoop in the corner, an air conditioner whirring away in the corner and Halloween decorations in the corner. The bed – having been designed by Gestapo scientists – contains two bars that are numbing my toes and fingertips. But it’s my full bladder that gets me out of bed. As I maneuver to the door I step on a trampoline. The dream was real: I am home.

As I unload my bladder other details come to mind. The 20 hour travel day, the 9 hour flight from Frankfurt to Philadelphia, the babies (so many babies), customs, the woman in front of me taking several minutes to master the esoteric technology of a pen and a piece of paper, the ride home, the cheesesteak, the baseball game, the blinky eyes, the pillow hurtling towards my face. And here I am. I go into the kitchen and start working on my sister and mothers’ leftover cheesesteaks. Their stomachs are weak and I am not going to pass up this opportunity. I put on the early edition of Sportscenter.

Yep. That’s it. I am in my Happy Place.

Or at least one of them.

In July we moved to a new flat on the other side of Prague. And though we technically started moving on July 10, mindfulness is not one of my strong suits (I wish there were chewable vitamin supplements for it). So I began moving in my head around May 4. The last three months have been some of the most stressful of my life. My mind, time, and life have all been consumed with the stress of moving. Deep cleaning our last flat and trying to somehow find new places in the new place for things that have had their place in the old place for the last five years. Hell. Every time I had a glimmer of hope that we were out of the woods, I would open a closet door to reveal a new pile of stuff that had to be dealt with. Then there were making standing orders for monthly bills and changing names on mailboxes and crossing our fingers the first time we used the washing machine. The stress was never ending.

When I got on the airplane last Tuesday, I was suddenly void of responsibility. I figured it was highly unlikely that the pilot was going to ask for my help on the flights and so my only jobs were to eat and watch movies. This I could handle. Despite the new norms of no free booze (not even wine/beer with meals) on transatlantic flights, I was fine. Against the astoundingly raw volume of the 735 babies on board, I had earphones.

When my parents picked me up at Philadelphia Airport, I allowed myself to become ten years old again. I put on my seatbelt and let them take care of everything. On our way home, we order cheesesteaks and pizza. And when we get home my mommy makes up my bed and my daddy and I watch baseball. By the time I am tucked into bed, I feel something I haven’t felt in a long while – comfort. This is coupled with relaxation.

Not only am I relaxed by being at my parents’ house, but I am allowed that state because I have done all that should be done. I have put in the work, I have set up my bills, I have prepared and done my duty. I get back in bed after peeing and my cheesesteaks and I cover myself up against the cold of the air conditioning. My eyes blink, I take in and release a deep breath. And as I slip off to sleep, I feel something on the periphery, an abstract noun threatening on the edges of my consciousness, and I can identify it just before I drop off to sleep.

Peace of mind.    

  1. #1 by Amanda on August 7, 2023 - 2:44 pm

    So that’s what happened to my cheesesteak.

  2. #3 by Lonnie on August 17, 2023 - 6:28 pm

    Looks like I missed you this time ’round. Hope you had a blast!

  3. #4 by Lonnie on August 17, 2023 - 6:31 pm

    Also, did your parents await you at airport while holding a sign that read “Dr. Damien – Gynecologist”?

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