As you know, I was in SE Asia over the holidays, or perhaps, if you consider the whole month of December, I had been on the back end of my travels to Botswana and then with some time in between been to Vietnam and Cambodia, so really the holidays and New Years, were really dates on a calendar. No parties, no festivities, just doing what I wanted to do during that time, as the old year ended, and the new year began. This past week was a mix of the winter blues in a way, and the excitement of the future along with a major case of jetlag, as I realized the clock had turned and I could no longer speak of next year, as next year had arrived. And wow, I am not sure I was ready, but I had to be.
I was also looking back on when I started writing this blog post at the beginning of the pandemic and the reasons why. Of course, there was no business at the time, as travel had essentially ceased to exist after having had such a wonderful 2019 business year. Who knew what was in store, but we all certainly found out. I started writing this blog to tell people that I was still around and when we could travel again, I was going to be there. I also knew the tragedy of lives lost and businesses destroyed, but I wanted to be a support system for others, and not just in my industry, although that was the initial focus and, in the end, it was good for me, as well. It provided an outlet to show that I was not going to let that event stop me. I was going to push forward as I had worked too hard, with basically nothing and taking a chance to build the business that is well into its 17th year.
What also came out of the pandemic is the single sole event that truly has changed my life and that was meeting Rosa. I still recall that February 19th day in 2020, and it being nice and warm. I also had just attended a conference called Viva Italy in Rome, so the one free day afterwards, was fateful. I remember first going to the Hard Rock Café in Rome, eating myself silly with Buffalo Wings and who knows what else and then making my way to the Borghese Gallery for what I thought would be a nice afternoon, another world-famous museum and all that it had to offer. Something new for me as I had been to Rome before and as a tourist, and seeing all the usual suspects, but I had not seen this galleria and honestly, I had no idea of what to expect, sculptures, paintings, and whatever else.
The scheduled time was 3:00 pm and being an American and a New Yorker (attitude wise) and having lived there a fair amount of my life, I was on time, early, no, very early, which is my MO, and it was, like most Roman sites, chaotic. Lots of people mulling around, chatting, eating, drinking etc. and many different languages looking for their respective guides to enlighten them with tons of details, and information about what was inside the Galleria Borghese. Honestly, I had no idea about its magnificence. I usually go on a guided tour with an open mind and don’t research too much about what I am about to see, so I do not have a particular perspective in advance. Of course, 3:00 pm in Italy is an estimate which I found out and having spent significant time there in the past few years, understand full well right now, but not at the time.
I remember finding my group and not sure how, but it was a Polish art student studying in Rome and a nice couple from Norway. I do not remember their names and really that is not important at all. The only thing that was important was when Rosa arrived. She came to us as the director of a play, or film and in character, ready to share her passion for the galleria. She was bubbly and exciting and while it was a very small group, she came right up to me. You must remember that I was pushing many kilos more than I am now, even with some added pasta pounds, but why. I did not know, but she knew I was in the travel industry and apparently found me interesting or perhaps intriguing. I can’t remember the words she used when we had a chance to talk about the chance meeting later on as we strolled the gardens after the tour. I was not looking for a relationship at the time, simply in Rome on business, but what happened that day…. well, you know and yes, I fell in love with her the moment I met her.
I am recalling this first encounter now, as something to reflect on and the fact that through all the trials and tribulations of the past almost 4 years, have come to point where in less than 45 days, I am getting married to the most amazing lady, that has on many levels changed my life. Of course, as that day approaches, the chaos and balance of personal and professional gets clouded as I wade through everything I must do on this side of the pond, and I know the things she must do before we are together in a few weeks’ time. To say that at this point, I am nervous, and I know she is as well would be an understatement. This story she and I have lived the past few years is something I would never in my wildest dreams considered. She arrives on the 1st of February, and I will meet and greet her at Boston’s Logan Airport, as I will be flying back from a quick business trip in the UK and Ireland, that same day and then we will set off on the next chapter of our story to be continued…….
In the end, writing this blog has been cathartic, emotional, educational and something that has helped me to get through the craziness, good and bad of the past few years. I enjoy sharing my experience of business and my travels, which was its original intent, and as noted, a way to get through the pandemic, but now as you all know is a mix of business and personal and maybe a leaning towards the personal which people seem to enjoy reading. I have thought about the life of this blog and its intent and its name, very specifically chosen given the times we were in when I started it. I have weathered the storm and will continue to do so and contemplated taking a break from it, but I realize that as much as I want to continue to make my life a more simple experience, it forever is more complicated and if those who read these each week or every so often get something from it to get through their days, then its intent is valid. We all have storms to weather in our lives, so I will keep writing, although, perhaps, take a break here or there as I get closer to settling into my new life.
Thank you so much for your support of our little world. Rosa and I truly appreciate it. Stay happy, healthy, and safe as this new year progresses and as always, your shared comments and thoughts are most welcome!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin