I am at my daughter’s home in Denver, Colorado. This is a significant trip, because it marks my second solo travel since my head injury: my second flight unaccompanied. Plus, I am here to help her sort, organize and pack in preparation for a move to a new house. This is significant because having a blow to the forehead meant a decrease in “executive functioning,” and these are among the very skills–sorting, organizing, packing–that to this day cause me some of the greatest fatigue. I have to take these tasks in small amounts of time, but I’m grateful to be able to do them once again, even though I am sadly not as quick or as efficient at any of them as I once was. No more marathon cleaning sessions for me. I actually miss that a lot, though.
The flight here was as ideal as air travel can be, save for the stale diet coke and the four-month-old who cried for one hour and forty-five minutes. It was agitating to listen to, but I felt sorry for the baby’s mother, who seemed to be passing all her anxiety and neuroses onto her child. I wanted to intervene, but instead of reaching and grabbing the baby to settle it, I just smiled and asked how old he was, while offering the kindness of approval. She and the father were friendly, and seemed relieved. They were clearly nervous, and trying everything they knew to quiet the infant–which involved a lot of jostling and shaking and shh shh shh-ing, with lighted toys and rattles and such that only seemed to agitate the baby further. The baby seemed to want a good swaddle or holding, instead of all the stimulation they were giving him, which required more effort and concentration than he had on this crowded flight.
The gentleman seated next to me on the airplane started the flight by nodding beyond my aisle seat toward his center seat, saying, “I just ruined your day.” I could only guess he was referring to his size; he was a large man. He was very nicely dressed, and obviously on a business trip. He said he was Boston bound, but because of the snowstorm out east had had to reroute to business in Denver (which by the way, is enjoying temperatures in the 70s, mid-winter).
Toward the end of the flight, just before landing, and once the baby had finally settled, I spoke to the businessman in the next seat. He noticed my reading, so I inadvertently started telling him how my reading skills had changed since sustaining a head injury. He asked how it happened, and when I told him, he seemed stunned. I went on to explain that I had temporarily lost the ability to read and speak, and that the end result for my reading skills, which had previously grown to be rather sophisticated, was that they had reverted to a junior high or high school level–but that I was grateful to be able to read again, and especially on an airplane while in flight. As we chatted, I learned that he currently lives in Notting Hill, a swanky area that I coincidentally had just toured in London on my first solo trip just last November. I asked him if he was familiar with this place, and of course he was:
It’s a small and wonderful world.
My daughter is a terrific host. She is also a consummate planner, and very thoughtful. This morning I got to sleep in and woke up to a darling note with the day’s itinerary (hers and ours) and a full pot of freshly brewed coffee. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful daughter, and to have this time with her, even though I feel like I am back on retreat! Maybe especially because of that. My proudest life’s achievement, she just warms my heart and makes it sing.
It must be serendipity that when I fired up my computer this morning, one of first things I saw was this video, called “A Very Happy Brain.”
May all your days be blessed!
© Debra A. Valentino, all rights reserved