Travels with Jessica, continued

In our last installment of Travels with Jessica, we had arranged for Giorgio to plan a trip for us to Italy for less than eight million dollars, and Jessica had negotiated a trip to New York City (“Since there are no direct flights from Kansas City and we have to change planes somewhere! And we might as well spend the night. Or two nights.”)

We are packing. We have done some shopping and have some lovely new clothes for our adventure, and I am trying not to hyperventilate thinking about Jessica, and how she can end up in the hospital with no notice, and also I don’t speak Italian. But I have a document describing Jessica’s condition, sweated over by a poor translator who must have had the time of his life trying to cough up the Italian equivalents of syringomyelia and hemispherectomy and Chiari decompression.

I hope I never have to use the document, because some doctor will look at me and say, “What the fuck were you thinking?” or whatever they say in Italian. I was thinking ‘I want my fucking life back,’ doctor.

I also have a document signed by Jessica’s father and notarized by, well, a notary, saying that he does not object to my taking her out of the country, but no one asks to see such a thing; I guess they don’t expect people to abscond with teenagers. Or maybe I finally just look like a harmless middle-aged women, which was not the case on my last trip overseas, where I think I was repeatedly mistaken for a member of 17 November, but there were Greek sailors on that trip, which sort of made up for getting stopped by the police every ten minutes.

I also have our passports, which I have checked approximately one million times to make sure they haven’t expired. Jess just got hers, but that doesn’t stop me double-checking. I have a recurring nightmare that I’m going to get to the airport and not have our passports. And then something dreadful will happen. I don’t know what; in the dream the dreadful thing is never revealed. In reality we would just have to go back home and take the next flight to New York. But it doesn’t seem that simple in the nightmare.

“I don’t have any boots,” I say to Jessica. “I am going to need some nice boots.” The ones I use to shovel snow will not do for Italy.

“Mom,” she says, rolling her eyes. “We are going to New York. Buy the boots in New York.”

“What if they don’t –”

“It’s New York, mom,” she says. “They will.”


  1. We went to Italy this summer and really were surprised at how easy it was to get around and communicate. Most people speak English or enough to get by, so I really think that should you have a medical situation, you will be just fine. We have huge medical worries on our trips too and I stress for weeks in advance. We ALWAYS have a medical crisis of some kind. This time, it was unexpected: my husband sprained his ankle in the Tower of Pisa. We were able to get an ice pack at the scene of the crime from the bored teenagers who work there. Fortunately, I overpack when it comes to medical supplies and prescriptions and had everything we needed to manage it. As much as I stress, I never regret going and always come back with amazing memories. I wish the same for you. Italy is magnificent.

  2. Also, you could buy your boots in Italy! I’m going to love reading about your and Jessica’s trip as I’ve never been to Italy. An old boss of mine had been and advised traveling there without jewelry; then you buy jewelry there and wear it through customs. Buona Fortuna!

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