Always travel with a large scarf. This is a rule for all the ladies. Men should heed the scarf rule, too, but they may understandably beg off for fear of appearing too European.
You will find that a large scarf serves many purposes on a journey. I have used my oversized, linen/viscose, blue-and-white polka-dot Marc Jacobs scarf (variation pictured above) in the following ways since leaving for Atlanta. My scarf has been…
an artsy-fartsy fashion accessory
a warm shawl
a bunched up pillow in the backseat of a car
a filter at my nose/mouth because someone in front of me was being fartsy on the plane (no artsy, just fartsy)
a napkin (just the corner)
a blanket on my lap while in various wheelchairs yesterday and today
a comfort (see: familiarity, things that are soft)
After my interview with Nellie Bly, I foolishly thought I might get another good night’s sleep and be ready to tackle Day 3 of the Atlanta trip without incident. The Agony had other plans for me, however. Around 1am, it wrapped a ragged, bloody fist around my abdomen and associated parts and every half hour, on the hour, I was in the bathroom, basically disintegrating at an alarming pace. It was 2:30am, it was 3:17am. It was 4:02am, it was 5:01am. I was afraid my pitiful wails were going to start waking the people in rooms nearby. I made deals with my body: “You stop doing this and we’ll go to the zoo, baby,” and “You cool it, we’ll go to Atlantic City.” I took five sitz baths. I used my entire arsenal of medicine — twice. No relief. It was 5:48am, it was 6:23am.
My class was to begin at 8:30am. I would take a step and stop, locked in position, my face in some crazy kabuki mask of pain or death. Just when I got my face right I’d have to go to the bathroom again and the battery acid/toxic waste mix would run through me and I would squall like a newborn baby. I managed a shower, noting my knuckles (white.) It was 7:02am, it was 7:26am. The tasks before me included: putting on my makeup and packing the case, zipping my luggage, making it to the elevator with a box of my books, my suitcase, my briefcase, and my class materials. Also, I had to stop crying. I sat, gathering my strength to do these things. I sat for so long, I realized they were impossible. I called for help.
And so it was that I went to an Atlanta ER again, though the second time it was to a different, better-run hospital and I did not drive myself but had more than one friend with me to assist me at the gates. It made all the difference in the world. I got medicine that helped me avoid pain-induced cardiac arrest (it’s funny, really) and plans were rearranged so that I would stay another night in Georgia, not go home to NYC, and come straight to Iowa a day early.
I’m telling you, that scarf was a lifesaver. It covered me in the hospitals. I wadded it up and bit on it before the pain meds kicked in. I dried my eyes with it. In the wheelchair in Atlanta, the one in Chicago, and the one in Des Moines, it was my little lap blanky — you know, like your Nana puts over her legs when she plays bridge? That was me. I was your Nana. I was probably paler and slightly more demoralized than your Nana, but I’d better not go around making assumptions about Nana. Nana’s a pistol.
Take a scarf. You never know.
**Note: The Fons & Porter company is great for many reasons. They were nothing short of heroic these past couple days. You too, Katy. Thank you.