I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly resilient person. I mean, it’s not one of the top ten words I’d use in one of those job interview questions, “describe your strengths.”
To me, resiliency means rolling with the punches, landing on your feet, changing gears when necessary.
But I like order. Outlines. Lists. Calendars. Plans. Itineraries. Knowing, for example, on Sunday — tomorrow — I’m going to be on my way to Bucharest to begin our 26-day Danube River cruise, bracketed with a few days at the beginning in Transylvania and a few days in Amsterdam at the end.
Except that on Thursday — two days ago — they cancelled it due to no water in the Danube. Who knew the river was the most important thing for a river cruise? I’d been convinced it was the free booze on board.
Thursday evening I was honored to sign books at the Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association convention. Everything was still up in the air while I was there. On Wednesday I had bought our nonrefundable tickets to tour the Anne Frank House. This book was directly across from me, mocking me. The lovely author signing next to me saw me take this photo and misunderstood, offering to take a pic of me signing books, so in a lull between traffic, I explained what had happened and why I was taking that particular picture. She gasped and said, “That’s the saddest story ever! I nodded at the Anne Frank book and said, “Well, maybe not the saddest.”
I read the cancellation email that morning while my husband was getting ready to go to work so we were able to debrief somewhat. Stunned, we made a weird tentative plan to see if we could step into some other tour going, well, anywhere. I mean, we’d spent months organizing dogsitters and arranging to be gone from work. Surely that couldn’t have been all for naught!
After a few hours of checking and refreshing my email obsessively, the tour person finally emailed and told me she found one going to southern Spain, Portugal, and Morocco over the same dates. Nice, surely, but not on my bucket list.
While obsessively and frantically googling things about the Danube River, I stumbled on this. If only we’d known, we could have booked our cruise for Octo— Hey! Wait.
Our travel agent scrambled to put together an alternative itinerary for us, using the same flights and general areas along the Danube. But that wasn’t what we wanted either. We wanted other people to be in charge for a few weeks, so we told her no thank you to this also.
We both felt utter disbelief. I had expected we might need to portage around some sections of the river due to low water, but complete cancellation wasn’t even on my radar.
All day it was an odd combination of mourning as well as a little bit of relief. Twenty-six days is a long time to depend on others to care for quirky little Nala. Also, we own a small print shop and out of the blue two weeks ago, one of our employees quit, leaving two perfectly capable employees to do the work of four. And all of a sudden, a ton of unexpected work walked in the door, a small part of which would keep four people very busy.
Now, I’m going to stop my sad tale of woe here, lest you think I’m whining, because I’m not, not really. Yes, this was a disruption. Yes, we’ve been looking forward to this trip since summer of 2017 when we booked it. Yes, I’ve enjoyed saying, “Oh, I wish I could do [that thing you invited me to], but I’ll be in [Vienna/Bucharest/Prague/other exotic locale] that night.”
I was looking forward to being out of the country before and during the election. I wanted to send my daughter a birthday card from Romania or someplace cool. I wanted to turn off my brain and have people do and think for me for a few weeks. I wanted to work on notes for my next books while gliding by castles and Old World charm.
But the drought in Europe doesn’t seem to care about any of that.
This is truly the first worldiest of first world problems. Oh no … our 26-day Danube River cruise was cancelled and I got all my money back plus some travel vouchers when we rebook! And how awful … I had to spend Saturday morning creating a 10-day replacement vacation to the Oregon coast where we get to stay in a lighthouse, visit with our daughter and SIL, and spend a few days at an oceanfront resort! Woe is me, how will I ever cope??
We didn’t have much choice but to make lemonade out of this climate change fiasco.
Or did we?
At least 200 other people, just on our boat, got that same cancellation email. How did they react? Did any of them scream and yell at the poor woman who had to sign her name to it? Did any of them faint and need smelling salts like delicate women of yore? Were there threats of lawsuits? Clenching of fists? Rending of garments?
Or was there resilience? Are there 200 alternative itineraries whirling in motion now?
I mentioned that we booked this trip in July of 2017. That was about six months after the tumor was removed from my spine and I’d relearned how to walk.
Maybe I’m more resilient than I realize.
So tomorrow, the first day of our non-vacation, we’re making mimosas with a bottle of champagne I found shoved in the back of the liquor cabinet when I’d stocked it for my house and dog sitters. We’ll toast what might have been, we’ll await the rebooking of our cruise for sometime in 2019, and we’ll thank our lucky stars that we weren’t already in Europe when they cancelled the cruise.
The only question now is … how resilient are inscriptions in books to be donated to the boat’s library?