I am completely irrational when it comes to my health. I often think my illnesses are more serious than they actually are, and call my dad asking for the signs of a heart attack on a regular basis. Most of my family and friends listen to me stress about my latest ailment, humor me, and then change the subject.
One of my most ridiculous health freak outs happened a few days into our trip to Germany and Austria. High in the Austrian Alps – à la Maria and the children in The Sound of Music – after a day of sightseeing, we arrived in Jungholz with just a few goodies remaining from our time in Rothenburg: schneeballen, bacon, and meat sticks, which I’d describe as Slim Jim’s classier, but less delicious older brother. We watched a little bad German reality TV that I not so skillfully translated for Jess, wrapped the meat sticks in a plastic bag and threw them out on the balcony to keep them fresh, and settled in for the evening.
In the middle of the night, I (gleefully) noticed that it had started to snow. By this point in our trip, I had been operating on less than 2 hours of sleep a night – hello insomnia! – and the idea of snow accumulation amped me up even more.
Truth: I love snow. I yearn for snow. At least five times a day during this trip I wished for snow. I remember telling Jess I would be happy if we could see even a few flakes. The phrase “be careful what you wish for” quickly ran through my mind as I lay in bed watching the snow fall, but I was so excited that it just as quickly exited my thoughts.
Sometime around 3 a.m., I heard a scratchy rustling sound. To my horror, backlit by the streetlamp outside, I saw the outline of two gigantic raccoons. I’m not an animal person in general and not a raccoon person in particular. And these raccoons were H-U-N-G-R-Y. I stared slack-jawed for 25 minutes as the raccoons ravaged our stash of gourmet meat sticks.
Side note: At this point in our trip, I didn’t realize that those meat sticks were some of the only food we would see for the next 36 hours. But that’s a story for another day.
When the time came for us to check out, I cleaned up meat stick shrapnel, we packed our bags, and happily hit the road.
Maybe it was lack of sleep, or my propensity to be paranoid about my health, but later that day I found myself having phantom heart palpitations and “trouble” breathing. I can admit now that this sounds ludicrous, but sitting on the Nordekette in Innsbruck, I slowly but surely convinced myself that I had contracted rabies from touching the gnarly, chewed up meat sticks with my bare hands. It wasn’t until later that evening when I told Jess my theory that I realized how insane it sounded.
That was the moment we realized we were a match made in neurotic-travel partner heaven. Or, more likely, that could’ve been the moment that she realized how bat-shit crazy I am about my health. Either way, the moral of this story? Never put your bare mitts on meat sticks.