I’d been gone for a month.
One month and six days. Ten (!) flights. Three continents. Seven countries.
… with one carry-on luggage (to rule them all!)
One carry-on that felt like a magician’s hat; somehow I had managed to squeeze in everything for all trips, all occasions, whatever the weather.
A formal gown for the Mediterranean cruise? Check.
A coat and boots for London? Check.
A bikini and flipflops for Puerto Vallarta? Check.
My sketchbook and pencils for New York? Check.
That’s all you brought?! my cousins would ask, bewildered. Well, yes. After all, the first rule of my Travel Club is: never pack more than you can carry.1 Especially if you have to start chasing trains (that darned Tube with surprise stairs!) or walk through flooded piazzas.
I’ve slept on moving trains, bumpy planes, parked boats. Top bunks in tiny cabins, squeezed in a tiny bed beside my friend in her London flat, in a wide, King bed in a beautiful four-star Mexican resort. And now, I guess, a nice, cold airport floor.
(Kidding. Not nice at all. But! Could be worse.)
It was the last day of my long, crazy summer — my summer of yes. (More like, Hmm, yeah, why not! I
was am the easiest person to convince to travel.)
I said yes to everything. Yes I’ll visit you in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Of course I’ll pass by London. I’d love to join your family for a cruise. Yes, I did promise to tag along to Puerto Vallarta, count me in. Yes, sign me up for that type workshop at Cooper Union.
I kept saying yes until I realized I didn’t have as much time as I thought.2 Trips overlapped; there wasn’t much time to go home in between.
So I just kept going. Like a crazy person.
It was the summer of new friends, old friends, close cousins, distant cousins. Yes, yes, yes. Let’s try it. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Count me in.
As much as I love travel, I’ll admit: there was a time or two that I was in some airport, waiting for a flight to my next stop, tempted to get on the next flight to San Francisco.
There were big moments. Head exploding history major geek out moments like seeing the sun peek through the Parthenon’s columns.
Little moments like basking in the amazingness that is the Vatican (sadly, had to run off to my next destination, so I couldn’t even go inside St. Peter’s!)
Quiet moments like walking home from class down St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. (This place calms me for some very weird reason… it’s anything but calm!)
Maybe the Universe thought I needed a day to stop. Sit still. Reflect? After all, I was scheduled to go right back to work the next day.
And so, like most of my misadventures go, my flight was cancelled.
Not even delayed a few hours. Cancelled.
(And here I was so excited to see my bed.)
11 p.m., JFK. JetBlue rep tells me to maybe “wait and see if you can get on the 6 a.m. flight”. By this time, I was too tired to get back on the subway to head back to Williamsburg just to head out again in a few hours.
And so I made myself comfortable on the floor, and stopped to think about the past few weeks. That summer, I hung out with three sets of cousins — two were cousins almost 20+ years older than me, with their own families, and the third, my favorite New Yorker food buddy cousin only a year older than me. Saw some dear Travel Club buddies too.
They say you never really know someone until you’ve traveled with them, right? Being with my cousins and friends (around a week each), showed me a lot of sides of their personalities I hadn’t seen before. Mostly good, some slightly annoying. I can’t even begin to think what they must’ve thought having me around that long. (When is she going home? they probably thought.)
An empty airport is a nice place to sit and think.
I grabbed my notebook and started writing down random realizations. So many of these were prompted by specific experiences, some also slightly cliche (hello 1 a.m.!)3
A lot of my time was spent in conversations (usually over alcohol), but even more time was spent just watching, observing. Seeing how other people live, work, and deal with stressful situations (and in turn, I guess, thinking about how I live, work, and deal with stressful situations.)
I was surprisingly thankful for the calm, quiet time to process the crazy summer.
6 a.m. did come, and no, they didn’t have space on the flight for me. Cry.
Maybe the 11 a.m. flight? Yes. 11 a.m.?! I could’ve gone back to Williamsburg.
11 a.m. came along. The good news? I was on the flight. The bad news? It’s going to be delayed. And did I mention it was headed to Boston?
4 p.m. and finally on a plane to Boston. YES!
Wait, why am I going to Boston?!
Tired, sleepy, but remembering what I scribbled down, I smiled to myself. You’re fine, Christine. You’ve been gone for four weeks, what’s another day?
And honestly? I needed that extra day.
Maybe even that cold airport floor.
Amazing! one thinks, until they see how much laundry I had to do each week. ;) But really, list “packing for a trip” under Christine’s Random Hidden Talents. I love to tell tales of the day I helped my cousin pack a comforter into her backpack and the time I hand-carried a printer (sans box). LOL. Talented… or cheap and unwilling to pay for a check-in bag. ;) ↩
And don’t get me started about budget! Then again I lucked out because a lot of these trips were made possible thanks to airline promos, frequent flyer miles, cruise add-ons, aunts with extra rooms in Mexican resorts and cousins with couches in Williamsburg. ↩
1, 2, 3, 6, and 11: Big realizations after being in a type workshop where everyone else was a million times better than me. What a blow to the ego (and in a way, sort of exciting.) 4, 5: Observing my cousins with their husbands / wives. One wants to go out and explore, the other wants to stay in the boat and wait for lunch. Not happening here. Making a mental note to find a fellow explorer. (And because #4 means no settling… it’s going to be a while.) 7: Misadventures aren’t fun, but if you’re in frickin’ Venice and it’s breathtaking even if your socks are wet, you shouldn’t be complaining. ;) 8: Self-explanatory. Don’t let the small things get you down, because… see # 7. 9: For a time I wasn’t sure what I was working towards anymore. Suddenly my biggest dream wasn’t my dream anymore. Scary and exciting. 10: Don’t even remember what this is about. See? I didn’t miss that much. ↩