You know those Chevy Chase movies where everything sort-of falls apart, like one thing after another? Well, my family vacations were actually like that (think extensive "scenic detours" and imploding motorhomes) and as amusing-slash-disastrous as that was growing up, I had always planned on my own vacations being a little more peaceful and vacation-like.
My trip to Spain with Emma and Ade turned out to be similarly amusing-slash-disastrous (think disastrous in the sense that no one died, no long-term damage was done etc, just materially unfortunate). To quickly sum up the dramatic highlights: I lost my wallet (in Cambridge) including my passport, bankcards and allll my cash, missed my flight to Barcelona, had to wait four days to sort anything out since everything was closed for Easter weekend, had to travel to the us embassy and buy an emergency passport, buy a new flight, finally made it to Spain where my bankcard didn't work (sorry Emma), got food poisoning in Toledo, was sick in the Madrid metro (sorry Madrillenos), then after barely making it back to Cambridge, my bike and I had a serious altercation with the pavement of Mill Road where I left behind patches of clothing and skin. Basically I'm not going to travel or eat gazpacho for a really long time - BUT that's not the point: even though with each new thing I was increasingly uncomfortable, I increasingly appreciated - on a really personal, immediate level - the power of human kindness.
For example, when I finished crawling around the bus floor in search of my wallet, the bus driver asked me if I had enough money to make a phone call and pressed a two pound coin into my hand.
When I realized I would be staying in Cambridge for the weekend and didn't really have any food in my flat, a friend in my ward invited me to a picnic with her and her children - her daughter drew me a card, my friend brought me lunch and she also brought the children's book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" for us to read, haha.
When I was ill on the metro, Emma not only held my hair back but gave me her coat to be sick into!
When I crashed my bicycle, a man on the side of the street yelled, "aaugh!" and ran to collect me and my belongings from the pavement and guided me to the sidewalk.
Even though losing my wallet, wrecking my bike etc were all just superficial unpleasant experiences, the sweetness of human kindness was like some wonderful nectar, some really profound force that sustained me in the moment and has made this past month one of my most treasured times in Cambridge. I'm really not being sappy here, right? I just want to share how I have been blessed by dear dear people who, whether they knew me or not, loved me and helped me when I was having a rough moment - and, in doing so, allowed me to glimpse the world as a place where charity and goodness do rule -- how beautiful!