I grew up in a solidly middle class family. I wanted for nothing - we went on vacation almost every year (normally to Florida), ate out once a week, had lavish Christmases and wonderful birthdays. We could get what we wanted when shopping, but we were generally aware that some items were too expensive.
Still, we ate at chain restaurants that were moderately priced. We never flew anywhere - if you couldn't drive to it, we would not see it. We also showered downstairs as the septic tank would need to be emptied if we used the single bathroom upstairs for bathing. I continue to think that my house having 4 toilets, two bathtubs and three showers is about the coolest thing ever. I have, my friends, arrived.
Travel, however, is done only by way of my profession. I could not afford to come to Japan for a week - even with my currently generous salary. I'm comfortable flying economy - even on long journeys - because that's what normal people do. And I am, at least financially, utterly normal. So I shiver at times with the odd sense that I get to see the world. Drink chocolate in London while gazing at St. Paul's. Wander back to my hotel from the Eiffel Tower. Take photos from a ship in Stockholm; Ponder the nearly-hideous beauty of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Adam commented that we had free access to the lounge upon checking in. I examined my pink slip of paper and noted that I was, in fact, invited to the top floor of one tower to enjoy wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.
Neat, I decided, for I do enjoy soft drinks and snacks, and happily rode the elevator upward before dinner to meet my colleagues last night. I poured myself a glass of wine, filled a small dish with assorted nuts and walked quietly into an adjoining room to sit in one of the many massage chairs. After pushing at several buttons, it began to rub my back while I sipped white wine and looked out over Tokyo. It was, I decided, nearly surreal. So though I did relax and enjoy, I had the sensation that this wasn't something I was meant to do - that I was overly blessed or ridiculously fortunate to be sitting there.
I went back up today after returning from my meeting. The skyline was blurred by clouds on this Monday afternoon, but the chair still massaged as I reclined in my dress with my jacket placed modestly over my knees. I closed my eyes for a moment, wincing at the pressure in my lower back coaxing my muscles to relax, and thought I'd had tea in Japan - drizzled honey from a small spoon into an elegant cup resting atop a pretty saucer. I'd spoken to a large group and did a nice job. I made my way back from Shinjuku Station alone, feeling proud all the way to the toes of my little, red flats.
And I think to myself, it's a wonderful world.