by Nancy King
Over the years I have traveled both here and abroad to teach, hike, visit friends, explore native crafts, attend conferences, and wander, with no destination or agenda. I have been kidnapped in Spain, abandoned in Japan, lost in Thailand, confronted by fleeing refugees in Hungary, frozen in Denmark, and awed by the kindness and caring of people with whom I had no common language. In my travels I have dealt with strikes, thunderstorms, ice, and tornados. Yet the trip I didn’t take, which involved no outer danger, no worries about the elements or travel arrangements or passports, turned out to be the most difficult trip of all—an inner voyage, to a place inside myself, a journey I had avoided for most of my life.
It began with an invitation, to make a trip to see his newborn daughter. The parents told me I needed to have a pertussis shot, something both my Eastern and Western medical personnel advised against, given that I have a chronic form of leukemia and am not in remission. He told me that if I couldn’t have the shot, I would need to wear a mask and gloves if I wanted to hold the baby. In emails and in phone conversations I agreed to do this, as well as anything else needed to protect the child’s health.