Lefty Parent

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Circle of equals

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Two Inch Heels Part 9 – Steve

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

It was Friday October 18, a long month into my odyssey and finally a gorgeous fall day after too much cold and rain over the past couple weeks. It never ceased to amaze me how much Mother Nature and her climatic moods influenced, even controlled, my own. A sunny day could assuage a lot. From atop the cupola of Sacre Coeur, I looked down at central Paris, my loneliness also medicated somewhat by the previous evening spent with Giselle, Paul and the stunning Laurence. Just somewhat.

As I stood alone on the observation deck and my eyes looked off at the city in the distance, my mind looked off into my future in the distance as well. After I visited Angelica in Tubingen I figured I would have about five more weeks, to go to Spain and Italy and end up in maybe Vienna. Once I got there I would have it licked, and could arguably say that I had seen Western Europe, and make my way back to England, maybe by way of Amsterdam, and then back home to the States. Of course, it felt a bit unnerving to be planning all this further travel when part of me just wanted to hop on a train and get my ass back to England and then fly back home as quickly as possible. I pondered whether to continue to consider that option of bailing, was undermining my coping with my situation, or perhaps instead providing a helpful escape valve.

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Two Inch Heels Part 8 – Paris

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

View of central Paris from Montmartre

When I finally woke up the little clock radio on the nightstand by my head indicated that it was already past eleven in the morning on Monday October 15, 1973. I had slept so deeply that it took my mind some thought cycles to remember where I was in time and space. I recalled listening to a World Series game last night on the radio, which is something I often did at night during the summer in my bedroom at home. But I quickly reoriented to being in fact far from home.

Realizing I was in a hotel room and not knowing when checkout time was, I got myself up, stumbled down the hall to the bathroom, hoping it would be unoccupied and have a shower with warm water, which it was and it did. It was the first shower I had had since I left Angelica and Helmut’s place in Munich four days ago. The two hostels I had stayed at since then had all had showers, but none with hot water. And I refused to take cold showers, and would go without, with just a quick bird bath with a moist washcloth instead.

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Two Inch Heels Part 7 – Low

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Bridge over the Meuse river in Liege Belgium

It was a chilly Friday October 12, though the light rain had finally stopped. Our boat ride down the Moselle finished at the little town of Cochem, set against the hillsides on either side of the river with one big old stone bridge connecting the two halves. I had just read in the latest edition of the International Herald Tribune that with a temporary stalemate on the battlefield in the war in the Middle East, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir offered a ceasefire which Egyptian president Anwar Sadat refused. More young soldiers of my generation would be dying on both sides of the conflict.

Me and all the now drunken German tourists funneled down the gangway into town. Unlike my ride down the Rhine to Koblenz the previous day, I had not found any fellow travelers, or even English speaking tourists, to pass today’s journey with. Feeling cold and alone, I had tried to appreciate the beautiful vistas along the way. Hillsides covered with vineyards dominated by old stone houses and even castles plus the occasional picturesque little stone town, like my current location. I was headed to Trier another 100 kilometers or so down the river to the hostel there, and I was counting on catching some sort of afternoon train from the station in town to my day’s destination.

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Two Inch Heels Part 6 – Rivers

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

It was Wednesday October 10 1973 and I was headed to Mainz to take a boat up the Rhine river. I was thinking “up” because the boat would head north, but north was the direction of the river flow to the ocean so I guess it was technically “down” the river. I was due to meet my mom’s friend Giselle in Paris in six days and I decided in the interest of time that I would pass on exploring the Black Forest for now. My new plan was to spend a few days touring the great historic river, which separated France from Germany. The river that Patton’s army breached in World War II with my dad as an artillery platoon leader, and that I had done a report on in sixth grade with ample assistance from my dad. A couple of my fellow young backpackers that I had spent the night with in the Bern train station had suggested that the sightseeing boat rides on the Rhine and then the Moselle were spectacular.

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Two Inch Heels Part 5 – Angelica & Helmut

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Egyptian soldiers crossing the Suez Canal

It was Thursday October 4 when I debarked the train from Bern Switzerland in Munich Germany, fifty pound (or should I say 22 kilo) pack on my back, bleary from lack of sleep, but happy to recognize Angelica and Helmut on the train platform smiling and scanning the numerous people exiting the train. I on the other hand looked much different than the five foot six inch shorter haired fifteen-year-old kid they had met three years ago. Now I had a long curly mop of hair, surrounding my head in what they called a “natural” on a white person or an “afro” on a black person. I was now six feet, and even taller wearing my two-inch-heeled shoes. When Angelica figured out by process of elimination who I was she started waving vigorously and her face lit up. Helmut followed her lead and waved as well, though more sedately, and put on his best charming smile.

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Two Inch Heels Part 4 – Rail Pass

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Andermatt Switzerland

It was Wednesday October 3 when I awoke in the chilly male bunkroom of the youth hostel in Chur. I was the only one still in the bunkroom, not wanting to surrender yesterday by getting up and facing today. Ensconced in my toasty sleeping bag, my consciousness was still processing the profound events of the past couple days: the tears, the fears, but mostly the joys. By the time I finally exited my cocoon to acknowledge that yes, life goes on, I was the only one left in the bunkroom.
I put on my clothes, and debated trying to wear my hiking boots again. But since I was doing so well in my heels, and there didn’t seem to be a sign of rain that might mess them up, I’d wear them again instead. For the third day in a row I decided not to take a cold shower, and used a wet slightly soapy washcloth on some key body parts instead. I entered the main room, and as I figured, my erstwhile travel partner Jack, and my more recent comrades, David, Bublil, Peter and particularly Ashild, had already departed.

I ate my stash of Granola and yogurt, the latter having stayed nicely cool in the unheated dormitory room, and pondered the state of my heart and my soul. I thought of Ashild, who with her calm and caring demeanor, her good energy, had made the effort to really connect with me. She had even asked to and written thoughtful words in my journal, like she really cared about me and wanted me to remember her. We had shared moments of real intimacy together, walking back from the tavern together two nights ago, and with her big soft warm rear end on my lap yesterday, neither of us uncomfortable touching in that way.

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Two Inch Heels Part 3 – Chur

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

It was Friday morning September 28. As we had agreed, my new travel companion Jack and I left Munich, Oktoberfest, and our army brat hosts, and hitchhiked south. Our plan was to travel together for a week in Switzerland and then return to Munich, hopefully for me to finally hook up with Angelica and Helmet.

Knowing that we’d probably be doing a lot of walking, and the blisters on my feet were still healing, I wore my two-inch heels, and hung my hiking boots from the top of my pack frame. Despite those blisters, I had done fine walking about Oktoberfest in Munich in my heels, and my feet hardly hurt at all.

This was my first time actually trying to hitchhike in Europe. I had cut my teeth on this means of transportation the previous year, in the States, for the 100 mile journey home from school in Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor. It had worked out pretty well and seemed a fairly dependable way to get home, particularly if there was basically only one highway to traverse to get to the destination, and it usually ended up taking about the same amount of time as taking the bus or the train, and certainly the price the right. Several times one of my rides was another young student type like me, who offered up all or part of a joint to smoke together.

But here and now leaving Munich, rides came slowly, maybe half an hour to an hour wait before someone pulled over, a lot more waiting with your thumb out than I was used to back home. But the weather was pleasant and Jack and I enjoyed talking about our time in Munich and travel plans going forward.

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Two Inch Heels Part 1 – Angie

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

[This is a rewrite of the second half of part 1 of my original backpacking thru Europe memoir]

It was late afternoon Monday September 17 when her mom drove Angie and me and our big full backpacks the thirty some miles to Metropolitan Airport outside Detroit. I felt an unnatural calm, akin to the reverse stage fright I would get before going out on stage in a theatrical performance. I was once again throwing myself in the deep end of the metaphorical pool of life experience. Like when I had first decided three years earlier to perform on stage, particularly my first big lead part singing and dancing in the musical Oklahoma. It was how shy, reticent me conducted my development, resisting and procrastinating until the fear of being a total chickenshit overwhelmed the fear of the leap into the abyss.

If Angie was having any second thoughts about our trip at this point, I did not notice. I was so deep within myself. She was quiet as well, sitting next to me in the backseat, probably going through her own version of something like a pre stage performance routine. Her mom seemed uncomfortable with our silence and kept trying to make conversation. All she got was short answers from both of us.

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Two Inch Heels Part 0 – The Endeavor

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Me as “Peabody” in The Flahooley Incident

[This is a rewrite of the first half of part 1 of my original backpacking thru Europe memoir]

It was Monday September 2nd 1973. Labor Day actually, though if I still had my “house boy” job at the Briarwood Hilton, I probably would have worked that day to get the time-and-a-half holiday pay. I was walking down the sidewalk on the north side of Wells across from Burns Park returning home from Angie’s house. Now turned September, it had still been a summery Ann Arbor day, but now a breeze had come up out of the north with that first real fall chill in it.

“Impending doom” is probably too strong a phrase, but a sense of some dread engulfed me. For the past twelve straight years that first chill had meant that I would shortly, always grudgingly, be reporting back to school. That institution my parents and other adults of their cohort imagined would allow me and mine to learn the skills to eventually take our place as successors to the civilization they were now responsible for. A civilization, from my point of view, whose history was a litany of wars, genocides, slavery, colonization, racial oppression and the subjugation of women.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 45 – Home

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

1139-martin-plIt was still Tuesday December 11 and I sat in the front passenger seat of our old Buick Skylark that my mom was driving home from Detroit Metro airport. My brother was in the back seat and my backpack stowed in the trunk. The car was technically mine, given to me by my grandfather, my mom’s dad, but was now our family’s only car. Her “old banger” of a car finally died and was sold for parts for fifty bucks and hauled off by a tow truck. She did not have the money to buy even another used one. She at least, while I was gone, was paying the insurance, the gas, and what little maintenance it got.

It was nighttime already so it was hard to make anything out. I-94 from Detroit to Ann Arbor was familiar to me, having driven into Detroit and back, maybe a dozen times or so in the past few years, mainly to go to the airport or to see a Detroit Tiger baseball game. Particularly when we got near the car plant outside Ypsilanti, all lit up just off the freeway, I knew I was getting into familiar territory and close to home. I felt really tired, my day starting fifteen hours ago after little sleep and since then the four Chivas on the rocks. My mom got a kick out of it when I told her what I had drunk on the plane, commenting that I had become a “sophisticated drinker”, though I did not tell her how much I had drunk.

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