Paranoia and common sense come together as the world goes insane.
- Norman Mailer
September, 2001, was not the ideal time to be flying off to Europe or anywhere else. But who knew, until it was too late?
Ever since Phyllis had been able to travel again, I had hoped to return to Europe with her; it had been a real pity that she hadn't been able to come along the previous year. Her one international trip - to London, in November - had gone very well, but it had been too late in the year for any extended travel.
And most important of all, we had a brand-new granddaughter in London, whom we had not yet met.
So we made our plans, and saved our money - with considerable and much-appreciated assistance from sources which might prefer to be left anonymous - and got the flight reservations, months in advance. We were to leave on September 13.
Yes. September 13. Two days after...it.
I didn't even wait for the official announcements; it was obvious nothing was going to be flying any time soon. I went ahead and had everything rescheduled, the whole trip moved a week later. We didn't leave until the 18th.
Even then, quite a few people thought we were gibbering-ass insane to be traveling at a time like that. And maybe we were, but it never even occurred to us to cancel the trip, or put it off any later. OK, it was dangerous, but no more so than a lot of other things we'd done over the last 33 years.
In fact it had somehow become even more important that we go, if only as a gesture: an extended middle finger toward the evil bastards who wanted to make us afraid....
Besides, we were grandparents now. Terrorists against grandparents - who would you put your money on? If you have to think about it, you can't have had a lot of dealings with grandparents.
So we went. And it was a pretty good trip, on the whole; it did have its discrepancies, but it sure as hell had its moments. Despite everything, the extra difficulties and inconveniences and the stress, I'll always be glad we made the journey, and made it when we did.
The following pages record, after a somewhat fragmentary and imprecise fashion, my impressions. The photos are not the best I've ever done; I was not, for various reasons, at anything like my best, with a camera or anything else, during those weeks. Ah well.
To begin, then -
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