Today is a beautiful autumn day in New England, with cold crisp air, and leaves on the ground. I’m so happy and grateful to be home, to have some time to rest and regroup. I’ve been on what seems like an endless road show for the last seven weeks, traveling for business to Nashville, Cluj, Romania, and Minneapolis. I find travel both exhilarating and exhausting, I love meeting new people and seeing new sights, but my chronic insomnia kicks into high gear away from my sweet bed, so I’m always running on fumes on the road. I really do love to travel, but I love coming home even more, like Dorothy taught us, there’s no place like it.
As I write this, fires are burning across my beloved California, affecting millions of people, including many that I hold dear. My heart is with all of you, and I pray that things get under control today, so that no more devastating loss is experienced. I heard a report this morning from the principal of Paradise High School, a town in Northern California that has been completely leveled by fire. It’s so hard to grasp the totality of destruction, but also so moving to hear his concern and caring for others in spite of the fact that his home is gone. We hear so much bad news these days; let us not forget the beauty and compassion that the human spirit is capable of.
Today is Veteran’s Day, so I also want to take a moment to honor those who have fought for our country. I saw a very elderly man at the grocery store, collecting for veterans and handing out poppy pins, a lovely tradition I’ve seen regularly since moving east. I asked him where he had served, which was Korea, and thanked him for his service. In spite of our county’s current environment of dissent, let us not forget our servicemen and women, who fight not for party or politician, but for the safety and freedom we all enjoy.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much about Nashville. It “seems” like a super cool place to visit, but this was one of those trips, for a conference, where I barely left the hotel the entire time I was there. The hotel itself was a trip, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (right next door to the Grand Ole Opry). It is the largest non-casino hotel in America! There was a lake inside of it, with a boat! It felt a lot like a non-Disney Disneyland, with vast crowds, lines for everything and a 15 minute walk to anything you needed to get to. Not exactly my cup of tea but it was something to see. They start decorating for Christmas July 1st, and I understand families travel there each year as part of their holiday tradition.
My next trip was to Cluj, Romania, to visit our office. I manage several teams with employees there, and it was absolutely awesome to be able to meet the people, who are incredibly warm, welcoming and just lovely. I was super nervous about the trip, having heard from coworkers that it was challenging, not because of the people but because of the travel itself. We flew overnight, transferring in Munich and arriving in Cluj after about 12 hours of travel, in the middle of the afternoon. We were picked up at the airport by the office managers and whisked away to a long lunch, where I felt dazed and confused from jetlag that never really went away during the three days we were there. We were in Transylvania (yes it’s a real place), where I have ancestral roots, but I didn’t have too much opportunity to explore. I do expect to go back at least annually, so hopefully next time there will be a chance to get out and see the country. My overwhelming impression was that it was an interesting juxtaposition of cold war bleak and modern technology and business, but of course, there is so much more to explore and learn.
This last week I was in Minneapolis. First time there, again, sensing a theme, you never have too much time to sightsee when you’re working, but we did get out a few nights. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and I was impressed by the way everything is connected by skyways. This becomes crucial during the long, brutal winters; we were amazed to see that you could basically go for weeks without having to battle the elements. It was already snowing when we left, so I don’t envy the residents the coming season, but they seemed well equipped to deal with it.
While I was in Minneapolis, I crossed an item off my bucket list. I’m not sure how the idea formed in my head, but when I heard the Mall of America had a zip line I started joking that I was going to try it. I’ve always wanted to do this, ideally across a beautiful jungle or beach, but hey, the mall was where we were meeting for dinner, the price was right, and my coworkers were laughingly encouraging me. I’m not sure they thought I would go through with it, but I did. It was a total hoot and I’m glad I did it. However, I still want to try it against a picturesque background someday, as opposed to America’s largest mall.
So that’s my story. I have one more trip to come to finish this busy travel cycle, but this one is the prize, home for Thanksgiving and my dad’s 85th birthday party. It will be a quick trip and I won’t get to see everyone I would like to, but I’ll be with my entire family at one time for the first time in several years, and I will also get to spend some precious time with some of my best people. I can’t wait. In the meantime, a little time to breathe, catch up with life, snuggle with the cat, and get ready for whatever comes next.
The end, for now