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Traveling: A Paranoid and Successful Mess

Sometimes I hear a couple comments about how lucky I am that I get to travel from time to time (and I know I am) and about how brave I am to just go out and purchase tickets and visit new or old places. Well, I’m here to say that the easiest part for me is putting in my credit card number and the moment I get on the plane. Everything in-between that is an absolute mess. So below I quickly detailed the normal process, that is very far from brave, that I go through before and while traveling.

It all begins a few days before when I won’t shut up about it: “Do you think this looks New York? Do you think New Yorkians would wear these boots? I don’t know how cold it’s going to be in New York.” Okay, hello, self, I think we all get it. You’re traveling to NY. I tell myself to shut up, but hey, I’m excited. You can’t blame me for that. (or maybe you can) -who cares.

The night before my probably ridiculously early morning flight: I’ll begin to silently panic around 8 PM. I’ll start going over lists and obsessively looking at my watch as if the next 8 hours are going to flash by right before my eyes. They do. I’m still doing okay though, I’m holding on to some sort of sanity. Though I am questioning everything I packed and I’m probably more worried about the weight of my carry-on suitcase (I try to always do only carry-on) than anything else. Can I wear all this on…

At around 10:30 I remember that there’s this thing called sleep that they say you need before days of importance (or every day, whatever). At around this time I say to myself (like every night), “okay, Mary, by midnight you should be in bed. Stop joking about pulling an all-nighter and get some rest.” I’ll check my lists again and continue to silently freak out. By the time I know it, I’m basically pulling a very unintentional all-nighter.

12:30 AM roles in and I’m probably thinking some pretty bad thoughts about getting some “Taken” shit pulled on me or losing my suitcases. I’ll be in bed at this time (yay!), but I won’t be able to sleep because my brain won’t shut up. I’m talking really ridiculous (really, don’t ever share a cab with a stranger), but frightening thoughts when I’m supposed to be getting some good ol’ beauty sleep. That doesn’t happen. Ever. I don’t actually think I’ve ever slept before a flight.

2-4 AM are spent in a restless daze, I may consider backing out at least once, and then suddenly…I tell myself, bad things can happen to you anywhere. Not the most comforting thought in the world, but think about it. Even as I sit outside with the sun setting behind me and students shuffling their ways home, something terrible could happen to me. I could lose my backpack or have something stolen or a meteor could fall directly on me at this exact spot and moment. So why would I be afraid to travel somewhere else? It’s not as if I’m 100% safe here either. You get me? So I’ll tell myself this as I wake up get out of bed (already dressed for the day- yes I did sleep in the same clothes.) I’m probably extremely nauseated at this point.

Flight time. I’ll drink a lot, a lot, a lot of water, but I won’t eat a single thing until I’m on the flight-though now that airlines are getting cheap, they only offer free beverages (what a rip off). I’m on my guard but not too serious. I also don’t smile a lot. I try not to act suspicious but I think I’m doing it anyway by not trying. Why are they looking at me like that. Basically, I’m a paranoid mess at this point even though I know I’m not doing anything wrong. Oh well, keep moving forward. Get to the part where you get to put on all your shit in a hurry- wait, my belt…shit where did my ticket go….I’M GOING I’M GOING…shoes in hand, quart-sized baggies in other hand, the found ticket probably in my mouth. I shimmy my way to a bench, put everything back on, and bam- game face.

Arrival. I put on the strongest poker face I know how to. Somewhere between “don’t try me” and super-model wannabe. I don’t ever look at physical maps and I probably already have the directions and street names memorized. I’ll put on headphones but won’t actually listen to anything until I’m more comfortable with where I am. By the time I know it, I’m there- wherever there is. In one piece. I thank the Man upstairs, breathe a sigh of relief, and throw my bags on whatever surface I’m sleeping on that night. Whew! I may be the most paranoid traveler, but it’s always fun and always an adventure. I can breathe for a second.

So it’s time to tackle the public transportation system…..

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