It’s funny; for as much traveling as I do, I haven’t really gotten used to the idea of air travel. I mean, I’ve gotten used to the process of it, so much so that I really have to try to remember that all those fumbling in the TSA security line to fit their liquids into baggies are maybe doing all of this for the first time. Last year, I flew from Philadelphia to Portland (OR), Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Mexico City, and Fort Lauderdale. And that was a light year.
You’d think that an airport would be the place where someone like me would feel the most at home. But, a lot of the times I’m in airports, or in airplanes for that matter, my stomach is reeling from the greasy food I’ve just consumed, my eyes are bleary and tired, my butt hurts from too much sitting, and I’m cursing bathroom architects. (Why, oh why, do airport bathroom stall doors push IN? Trying to stuff my body and all my bags into one of those without touching the toilet and then closing the door behind me is no small feat.) Airport time is suspended time.
As I’m writing this, I’m flying to Maui. I’ve been to Hawaii before, and I got there the way I associate travel: slowly, on a ship. Back in 2007, it took one week for us to sail to Honolulu from Kobe, Japan, and it took another week for us to reach San Diego from Honolulu. My flight today from Phoenix to Maui is six hours. Six hours in the sky is just enough time to feel completely bored and also completely awed. I’ve hurled my body across the world today, and it just doesn’t feel like traveling. It feels like cheating.
Perhaps I feel this way because I haven’t been quite so far away in while. Or maybe I feel this way because for the first time, my family and friends and coworkers are a lot more expressive over my choice of destination. Here’s how it usually goes: “Hey guys, I’m going to Mexico City!” Them: “Oh. Don’t die.” Here’s how it went this time: “Hey guys, I’m going to visit Kelly in Hawaii!” Them: “OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO LUCKY! HAVE SOOOOOOO MUCH FUN.” Okay then.
Or maybe I feel this way because I know slow travel, the kind of slow travel I had hoped to be doing by this point in my life, won’t be possible for me for at least another year. Late last year, I accepted a promotion at my job. In doing so, I promised to stay on for a year (partially as part of an incredulous response to my interviewer when she said “I don’t want to hire you because I’m afraid you will quit to travel.”) I haven’t signed any contracts, but the truth is, I am no closer to saving the kind of money I need to take a long-term trip as I was at this point last year. So, now, for the first time in my post-graduate life, I am feeling what it is like to have both feet on the ground in my real life in Philadelphia, instead of one-foot out the door in my mind. And it scares the shit out of me. Which is why two days after being promoted, I booked this impromptu trip to Maui. Which is why I’m currently on an airplane. Which is why I don’t have any money. But, hey, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.* (*Full disclosure, I haven’t been able to stop eating cake since I started Dry January aka Drynuary, but that’s a story for another day. Literally I ran out of cake last night, the night before my flight to Hawaii so I don’t know what that says about my life).
Happy New Year, friends and random people who clicked this post off Twitter. My hope for all of us is that we can earnestly try to better ourselves in 2013. The weird thing is, I’m optimistic about all of this.