I'm in Vienna. Why, you ask, are you in Vienna? I'm meeting my oldest and her university choir here later today, and then on Friday she and I will go on to Germany to stay with the family of the German exchange student who lived with us five years ago. We have a tradition of taking the kids on a trip somewhere in the US one-on-one with either mom or dad when they turn 7 and 15, and now, apparently, we're setting the precedent that at age 21 you get an international trip. That's fine by me!
Until the choir arrives, I'm touring Vienna alone. It isn't the first time I've been alone in a European city. In college I visited a friend doing a semester in Rome. She had class during the day, so I saw Rome by myself. And when I went to school in Japan, I spent plenty of time wandering around both Kyoto and Osaka alone. But I was younger then, and invincible. Now I'm old and a little bit scared. I've had to reawaken my self-reliance and tap into my forgotten invincibility. When I arrived safely at my hotel yesterday, I patted myself on the back for successfully getting myself on three different flights, and then finding my way to the hotel by train and subway, pulling a too-big blue suitcase behind me.
Back home Mark's classmates are preparing for graduation in a couple of weeks. I don't know where I'll be the evening of graduation, but I do know I won't be anywhere near the high school. My heart can't take seeing happy families celebrating what we can't. Envy is an ugly emotion and the one that has surprised me the most since Mark died. I should probably talk myself out of it, but like other emotions I've experienced the last 2 1/2 years, I just let it be. These days I'm most comfortable around people who live with their emotions openly and honestly, and who give me the grace to do the same.
For the next week, though, I get to enjoy Austria and Germany. I'm not sure I could ask for a better distraction from what can't be. Prost!