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3 days to Paris, and I’m in a no-mistakes zone

There’s an uncomfortable window of vulnerability right before a big trip. A vulnerability that warns, “Don’t lose your credit card or get in a car accident. Don’t wrench your back. Don’t poke yourself in the eye. Don’t get sick. Don’t make mistakes.”

Not that you’d be happy doing those things any other time, but recovery at home from card misplacing, car accidents, back wrenching, eye poking, and sickness is at least straightforward and in English. When you’re ready to go on a trip, those things can terrify.

I’ve misplaced my credit card before a big trip before. I apparently dropped my card after paying for gas. I had to rush a new card to my Chicago hotel, relying on friends to buy me rooms and meals until it arrived.

I also once wrenched my back on a car trip to California. I bought a cane at a Rite-Aid and limped through the adventure. On an educational trip to England, a woman in our group had recently fallen down her basement stairs. Her face was black and blue, her arm was in a sling, and she was woozy from painkillers during our talks and field trips. I had to cancel my 40th birthday trip to Guadalajara when my toddler son broke his leg. I’ve gotten food poisoning, brochitis, and annoying colds just before traveling and coughed my way through flights, folding in on myself at a window seat to avoid contaminating everyone.

Stuff happens. I just don’t want any stuff to happen now.

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