Madame, this is not your day

Because I’m always writing about how much I LOVE traveling, full disclosure compels me to tell the story of my trip home from Sirenland. I am only just now able to speak of this–now that the story has come to an end and I did in fact make it home. As a foil, I will sprinkle the story with lovely photos from the trip.

One of the amazing things about Sirenland is that it includes spouses in the dinners, the readings, everything except the workshops. So my husband was with me in Italy. He and I left Positano Saturday morning around 8:30. We took the train from Naples to Rome. After a pasta lunch with friends near the Piazza del Popolo, followed by a walk to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps, then a glass of wine in the courtyard of our hotel, I began to feel sick. I went up to the room to lie down for a minute. Then I started throwing up. Which went on for hours. From my bed, between trips to the bathroom, I could see Cal on the balcony looking out at Rome. I could also see a couple across the way. Cal told me later that they were pointing at me on the bed and him on the balcony and laughing.

Anyway, even though I stopped throwing up sometime around midnight, I was dehydrated. My body felt all achy and feverish and so weird that I could not make myself get out of my clothes. Also, I could not stop myself from worrying about having to be on a plane in a few hours.

Sunday morning, I washed my face and brushed my teeth but did not have the strength to dig into my suitcase to change clothes. I told myself if I could just make it to the plane, I could curl up and go to sleep and by the time I got home, I would feel better. I would not breathe on anyone, and I would keep my anti-bacterial gel in my pocket.

At the Rome airport, I accepted the boarding pass the agent handed me, and I checked my second carry-on because I could barely lift my purse. An hour later, as Cal was about to leave to get on his plane (we fly separately), he noticed that my boarding pass had me going to Boston instead of Chicago.

The agent in the Alitalia Lounge helped me untangle the boarding pass mess and tried to reroute my suitcase but no luck there.

I finally got on the plane, took my shoes off, put on my face mask and got under the covers…only to hear moments later that we had to get off the plane for mechanical difficulties. When I walked back into the lounge, the agent who had helped me with the boarding pass was still there and I told her I was on the plane to Chicago, and with her lovely Italian accent, she said, “Madame, this is not your day.” No kidding.

Delayed one hour, then two more. Then they sent us to the airport Hilton to await instructions. I threw off my shoes and collapsed on the bed to sleep for 3 hours. Woke up, washed my underwear and socks in the sink, aired my other clothes, wrapped up in my raincoat, and watched movies on TV. Oh yeah, and the air conditioning was not working in the hotel. When our instructions came in, we learned that we would not be leaving until the next morning at 8, and that we should be at the airport at 6.

Back at the airport on the way to my gate, I got trapped in the train along with two other women. They had to come manually open the doors. Then the plane was delayed 30 minutes–fueling and catering…

By the time I got home–Positano to Naples to Rome to Chicago to Atlanta to Columbus–I had been in the same clothes for 3 days.

So sometimes, although I hate to admit it, I don’t love traveling. There. I said it.

Coming soon: more pictures from Italy, stories from Sirenland, and lots from my workshop with Ron Carlson. Also, on the first, a new guest post in the How We Spend Our Days series!

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31 thoughts on “Madame, this is not your day

  1. Oh lady, I relate. On our way back from Switzerland my partner & I flew into a huge ice storm in DC which stopped all planes from taking off; simultaneously, I came down with stomach flu and started throwing up in the Dulles bathroom. We were stuck in DC for two days, sick and without our luggage, which the airline would not process through customs because all the workers had left work when the city shut down in the ice. It was all very ironic because we’d hugely over-packed for Switzerland; we had our parkas and our nine pairs of wool socks all ready for a snow-storm that never came in Europe…only to be stranded back in America, without access to any of that stuff. Sometimes travel sucks. 😛 Hope you’re now recovered!


    • Oh, Emily, this sounds worse than my story. I’m sure you’re glad that it’s all in the past, as am I. My body still feels a little achy, but I feel confident this week at the beach will cure that.


  2. How miserable! At least it happened at the end. You have at least cured my envy. I do hope you feel better by now. In the end, I’m sure the high points are what you’ll remember.

    Love your photos on all the posts!


    • Sarah, that’s what I was thinking. At least I didn’t get sick in the middle (or beginning) of Sirenland.

      Next week I’ll post on the workshop, which was in fact the highlight of the trip (along with the lunches)!


  3. I knew something was off by your last post. You mentioned plane difficulties, but it seemed more was askew than a flight delay. I’m so relieved you made it home safely. Sending love your way,


  4. Oh Cindy, this is priceless. Even more so now that I know you and the graceful woman you are. I am so sorry you had to have the experience, but so glad that you wrote so well about it 🙂 I hope you are feeling better!


  5. It’s a testament to you that one of the categories under which you filed this is: Humor! Truly the travel experience from hell – but you do manage to make it engaging. Better to read it than live it, I’m thinking. . . Hope you feel all well!


    • When I was on that train and the doors wouldn’t open, the message came in Italian first. So the other women knew before I did. When they explained, I did laugh. I thought, of course the doors won’t open. My next thought, of course, was I should under no circumstances get on an airplane…


  6. Ah, the joys of travel, and of barfing in Italy. (I tossed my Cs on the way in, you, on the way out…lucky us!) Someday we’ll laugh about these not-so-private humiliations. Oh, heck. Let’s just laugh now. So glad to have met you, Cindy. Hugs to you and Cal. xxx Renee


  7. Oh, Cindy.
    I am so sorry.
    I feel like a schmuck even complaining about the jerkface next to me who thought my seat was also his.

    I’m glad you’re home. And that you can write about this so beautifully.


    • Aaryn, the night I was stuck in Rome, I wanted to post something (because I had been so absent and now had the time), and I thought you cannot complain about having to spend a night in Rome. I also thought you cannot write about throwing up. So I went with mostly photos and a few words. By the time I finally made it home, I was thinking you are such a Pollyanna about traveling you have to come clean. Ha!


  8. Oh, so sorry to hear of your troubles. Sounds like a nightmare. I think there must have been a bug going around because Claire was also very sick on her flight home.
    I so agree about flying. I used to look up into the air and see a plane and wonder where it was going, wishing I were on it headed to some exotic destination. Now I see a plane overhead and think thank god I’m on the ground.
    My flight to Italy had engine troubles, long delays had to be rerouted on another flight and my luggage was lost for five days. I’m in New York, still waiting for my husband and son to arrive. There flight yesterday morning was canceled due to mechanical failure. Their flight today is delayed due to software problems. Makes ya wonder!


    • Teresa, I was sorry to hear Claire was sick too. I do think there was something going around. I’m still not to the point of not wishing to be on the airplane but I sure was happy to get home, get out of those clothes and into the shower!

      Sorry to hear you and your family also had travel difficulties. Wow. Hope you are all back safe and sound by now.


  9. Cindy-
    Oh man, can I empathize! I threw up in the cab right next to Nam Le on the way to the airport on Saturday morning, and proceeded to cross the ocean that way. Long trip… I kept waiting for the passengers near me to demand that I be killed and put out of their misery. I’m still coming out of it. Cipro has helped stop the carnage. But the week was worth it. I so enjoyed you and Cal!


  10. Unimaginable difficulties. One after another, too. And in Italy of all places.

    I’m so sorry. Just think, on the bright side of things, at least your experiences may find their way into a future story/memoir/poem some day, yes?


  11. Oh, Cindy — What a nightmare. I’m sorry it was such a rough ride back. But I’m so glad that you were at Sirenland this year. It was a pleasure to get your feedback, and even better to read your work. Be well!


  12. Wow. I thought I had some hellacious stories about flying difficulties, but yours beats all. Sorry.

    But if it makes you feel any better, I barfed in all the nine European countries I visited while having morning sickness (not confined to just mornings). I left my mark in Europe.


  13. Pingback: it’s been another year | catching days

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