Perhaps it is the final step on the road to normality. I am sitting in the Westin Grand Hotel in Bogenhausen, Munich, eight floors up suddenly aware that what I thought were clouds on the distant horizon are actually the Alps. How suddenly they jut out of the otherwise flat land! They are some distance away so their stature is evident in the fact they are visible. Somehow their presence suddenly lends a different complexion to my stay. From being a business trip, I have a sudden tinge of "Holiday" feeling intrude momentarily as this exotic location in the distance becomes part of my landscape.
I have a headache. It's the same headache at the back of the head that I was so familiar with during my stay in hospital in March and in the following month or two. It's a strange back-of-the-head headache which was what grew to a pulsing crescendo on the dance floor that fateful night. I am not happy that it reappears, but when I asked the neurosurgeon about it, he waved away my concerns telling me it is "just a migraine". That may well be so, but it's presence still unnerves me.
But I probably deserve this headache. I did after all consume three half-litres of beer last night. About three pints: Not an amount I would normally associate with a hangover. But these are not normal times. Beer allows the confusion. I expect to be mildly confused after beer. It's a pleasant, familiar confusion that males all other recent experiences of confusion seem comfortable and unthreatening. But I wish it didn't give me that particular headache.
I was concerned about how I would cope on this trip. I am still somewhat vague where information is concerned and I get tired between my temples when two conversations are present in my field of hearing. Usually this requires me to go and have a lie down but I have been sufficing with escaping to somewhere quieter and breathing deeply. It works up to a point.
So, I managed the driving, the chaos of Heathrow and Munich airports. Getting to the hotel was easy and my presentation went quite well to a roomful of attentive people. I heard my own faltering voice explaining things and realised that I am not quite "there" yet, but given how I felt even two months ago, i am astonished to be back in circulation.
It's hard to work out what it all means. Oh, I m not one for undue symbolism, but I feel different. I saunter through the airport terminals feeling that I have had an experience that renders the petty tribulations of everyday travel somehow far less significant. It feels like a freedom to accept (or reject) expectations on my own terms. I feel I can just walk up to people with a smile and say "Hello! I am Pete. Who are you? What's that you are doing? Will you be my friend" because a whole new frontier of existence has been reached and in it, I am innocent and ignorant of convention: Many older conventions seem redundant now.
I said it was hard to explain.
But here I am, back in Germany, doing what I always did and this seems both familiar but new. I don't really know what to make of it all. I am sure it will all fall into place at some point.
But for now, my grumbling tum bids me head down for breakfast.