Travel Log: Day Nothing
I always get this, right before I travel: this impending sense of loss, of isolation, of sadness—in a word, a deep funk I can’t seem to shake off. Instead of briskly packing and tying up a few loose ends I wander listlessly around the house, sipping endless cups of coffee, or check my email like 30 times, or, worse, throw a post up on my useless blog.
In less than 24 hours I’ll be squinting in the Caribbean glare, rum-drink firmly in hand, with silver-ghosts no more than a long cast seaward. There will be short hops on tiny planes, long beaches and the silence of wind and waves. And maybe, if I’m lucky, there will even be dark, sickle tails waving in the sun as my fly glides an intercept course for the spreading rings. So, how can I be dejected? Is there some guilt, some deep-seated belief that I don’t deserve this? Perhaps it’s just the angst brought on by travel in our post-modern age, the idea of being scrutinize, sanitized, certified, and homogenized before being herded into a metal tube and hurled through the atmosphere only to arrive blinking and confused in another world, almost another time. That, at it’s core, is simply an unnatural experience, and I relish it no more than a visit to the dentist.
It used to be I could relax a little more, take it all in, even enjoy the experience, but now I simply want to get it over with and arrive already. Maybe it’s the airports themselves. Let’s be frank: they suck. They are overcrowded, uncomfortable, and usually staffed by seriously miserable individuals. Add this to the fact that you can never spend just the right length of time in them and it’s easy to see why most sane people regard them with an almost psychological loathing.
Now, what I mean by “the right length of time” is somewhere between not too long and not too short. You know, just enough time to catch your connection without having to rush. No one wants to spend all day in airports, but having ten minutes to catch a flight at the other end of the complex is no fun either. Still, if you spend enough time in them, airports can grow on you. It’s not that they become any more comfortable or less crowded with herds of bovinian travelers (either wandering too slowly or knocking you aside as they stampede past). It’s not that at all. More likely they get to be a sort of adventure—one of the hardships that make your destination seem all the greener—and they must be factored in as such.
I mean, is the place you’re trying to get to so wonderful it’s worth standing in line, being jostle by crowds, harassed by security personnel, laid-over for hours, and just generally suffering. It makes one think. If your answer is yes, then the misery of airports can become a necessary part of The Trek that offers adventures found nowhere else.
For example, take a nap with your head propped on your duffle in the middle of Miami International and you might say to yourself, this may not exactly be roughing it in the wilderness, but it’s almost as dangerous, right? In the end it becomes something you can feel proud of—the seasoned traveler, worn jacket thrown over him, casually napping on his travel-scarred pack as everyone else bustles by. Not bad. But since you waited until the last minute to pack and only grabbed a half-hour of jittery shut-eye as a result, just don’t sleep through the boarding call.