In seven days time I will be in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for Women’s Week. This annual event celebrates the arts with literary events, film, comedy and much more. I had also not heard of it 18 months ago. Like much of my current life, it wasn’t just on the periphery, it was in another universe. Even once I had been acquainted with the wonderfulness that was P’town, I still contentedly assumed that it was something other people did. Braver, more adventurous people. Now it appears I am about to join their ranks.
I am travelling there with my amazing girlfriend who is far more courageous than me. To paraphrase Queenie from BlackAdder, she might have the demeanour of a meek woman, but she has the stomach of a concrete elephant. She had the trip planned over 18 months ago and was going to go on her own, with only the faint promise that some authors she had met might be there to say hello to. The thought of doing anything like that fills me with horror. It took me weeks to pluck up the courage to go my first board gaming group. I still remember with a shudder, the stomach clenching fear that I felt walking up the stairs in the pub. I might as well have been strapped in on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, on a one way trip to Mars.
Now she is taking me along and I am starting to feel excited. My ESTA is approved, currency ordered, hire car booked. Ah yes, the hire car. My girlfriend had planned to get the bus. I had heard too much for comfort about the ‘Cape Fear’ short hop flight option from Boston Logan to Provincetown airport. So the obvious option was to drive, for the first time, in the US. I have assured her that it will all be fine. After all I hired a car when in Spain earlier this year, and despite a slight false start that necessitated a couple of laps of the airport carpark, and a few hair raising moments which left the local taxi drivers probably needing therapy for PTSD, I made it to the villa unscathed.
I will, however, be leaving the navigation to my girlfriend. I have a terrible track record when it comes to map reading. My best friend still has fond memories of letting me direct her and her husband from the Solway coast back to Lockerbie. By the time I had finished, we were in a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Dumfries (I only missed one turn honest!). In Malaga this all came back to haunt me again. I carefully added 30 minutes to an evening trip back from Malaga Harbour to our villa, and then led my driver the next day on a hair raising drive round the dirt tracks of the local village. Funnily enough, nobody asked for my help again.
My girlfriend has requested a book to listen to on the journey, perhaps wisely planning something to calm her nerves. She is big on audio books, as she is dyslexic, and has listened to hundreds over the years. She even runs a website devoted to cataloguing and raising the profile of all the Lesbian Fiction titles out there. However, despite dipping my ears a couple of times, I still haven’t been won over. Instead I offered the compromise of a full cast recording of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Thankfully the promise of listening to Benedict Cumberbatch’s dulcet tones was enough to win the day.
So P’town here we come. Whale watching, cake, gelato, dune walking, and maybe even the occasional cultural event are all hopefully going to be sampled over the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to breath it all in, and even better still, I will have a wonderful woman by my side to share it all with. Happy birthday my love, I will see you very soon…