I have become a good traveler. I can do it well. Those brief moments walking through the airport, through the terminal, onto the plane, sitting in my seat and looking out over the plane’s wing. I feel right. I feel at home. I feel at peace knowing I can do it. I never fear crashing. I am not afraid of terrorism. I fear others' body odor. I fear screaming children. I dread talkative neighbors and pray my phone’s battery lasts as long as the flight does so that I can listen to my music and be alone on the plane.
The day I return from a trip, and sometimes when I’m still on one, I am thinking about my next destination. I look up flights and look in my planner and look to see who wants to pick up a shift or two in a month so that I can take off again, feel that rollercoaster feeling again (even though I’ve never been on a rollercoaster) of the moment the plane stops being on the ground and does what it was built to do – miraculously defy gravity with its thousands of pounds of metal and tons of jet fuel and dozens of passengers and crew held aloft thousands of feet in the air.
After the plane has landed and the seat belts click open and the eager ones stand up and get their luggage (careful – the luggage may have shifted during takeoff and landing) and then we all stand and hunch and half-sit around waiting for the plane to connect with the makeshift hallway. We’re like a bunch of kindergartners waiting in our classroom for the fire drill to start waiting for the door to open waiting to be set free.
I wonder about these people I wait with. Where are they going? Where have they come from? Are they visiting relatives going home going on vacation visiting a lover going bird watching going to die going to live somewhere else going to rehab going for business going for pleasure going for nothing? I most often am going for nothing. I go with no real reason. To see a friend to get out of town to decide to end a relationship to find a new place to live to breath to write to escape to start over to end up there. Whatever my reason, I prefer to do it alone. I’m faster. I’m more efficient. I’m more certain of where I’m going and how to figure it out. I love company, but I love the quiet more on my trips towards nothing.
Now I am thinking again – where next? What next? How next? I want to fit one, possibly two more trips in again before my unnatural flight north for winter to spend cozy nights with too many dogs and too much coffee and too much cold and snow and old friends and old habits and old roads and traditions.
Somewhere sunny with sand or waterfalls or cobbled streets or fruit vendors speaking a language I don’t understand or a town old enough it doesn’t seem quite like America or a new city where young people go to retire or the woods (probably not) or the beach or the mountains? Where next?
Here’s to the next trip.