Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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How Close Is Far?

All day I was on ______ and ______ wondering if Kim was alright. She was supposed to go straight from the airport in Hermosillo to her first work function. Since her cell phone doesn't work in Mexico, I knew I probably wouldn't hear from her until tonight. It even crossed my mind that she might not be able to call at all, so I prepared Skylar for that possibility. Why I should expect her to bear such a situation when it would surely drive me to despair is beyond me.

I'm not the world's biggest worrier. But there are enough strange aspects to this trip Kim is on -- flying on the governor's own small plane, not knowing what precisely is going on with the U of A's Mexican collaborators, not understanding more than word or two of Spanish, never having been out of the U.S. alone -- that it has me apprehensive. And when you factor in all of Kim's bad feelings over the past few weeks, the tension becomes almost unbearable. I want it all to be over.

At least we finally heard from her this afternoon. After stopping at AJ's for a rotisserie chicken, a Pepperidge Farm cookie sampler, and a Halloween cat headband to match the mask Skylar got last month -- she deserves something special when her mom is out of town -- we came home to wait for what I had described as a "possible call." And it came. Only Kim was calling from her room, because the calling card number I'd given her wouldn't work, and needed me to call her back to avoid a massive phone bill.

I dutifully wrote down the number she gave me and called her right back. But I should have checked the country code first. I'd never dialed Mexico before and assumed that the hotel had given her accurate information. When the peculiar ring tone on the other end gave way to a voice, however, it sure didn't sound like someone speaking Spanish. I gave my self a mental slap for having let my high school proficiency slip to such an abysmal level and forged ahead in fear. "Buenas Tardes. Habla Usted español?" The voice responded with what sounded like annoyed muttering, then went silent. I hear shuffling in the background. A man came on the phone and made a valiant effort to speak English with me. After realizing that I wasn't talking to someone at a hotel, I apologized and hung up.

I went to the computer to check the country code. It wasn't the one for Mexico. I guessed that the "country code" the hotel had given Kim was actually akin to an area code and redialed with an "011-52" in front of the number she'd given me. This time my question was met with an affirmative response and a minute later I was talking to Kim in her room. I'm not sure how much of her story she'll care to share with you on her blog, so I won't provide details here. She made me laugh, not only because I was so relieved to hear her voice, but because her descriptions of the not-quite-horror that she had encountered in Hermosillo were as finely honed as the details in a good stand-up comic's routine.

I proceeded to tell her what had happened with the phone number, much to her consternation, and explained that I had dialed some indeterminate country where Spanish is clearly not the lingua franca. "Thailand, maybe," I told her. As we talked, I checked the country codes on the computer. Sure enough, I had dialed Thailand. Flush with my sense of random accomplishment -- I'm not much of an international dialer, much less an international traveler -- I felt waves of relaxation wash over me.

Now, though, as I type this, the anxiety is back. Kim leaves at 9:15am tomorrow. I'll be on ______ and ______ until I get her cell phone call from the Tucson airport. I think I'm going to go call Mexico again to hear her voice.

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