Wherever you go, there you are. Just make sure to relax and enjoy the ride.
Friday, June 1
Cheryl is a well-seasoned world traveler. I, on the other hand, up until that moment could count the number of times I’d been on an airplane on, um, two fingers. While I’m a—ahem—well-seasoned road traveler as far over as two states in any direction (okay, except east, since there are no states to my east), my experience any further is limited to our trip to DC three years ago and a long trek across the country when I was three.
If there were ever a trip meant to push every boundary I have, this trip to Lake Austin Spa was turning out to be the one. Here was this amazing opportunity, the most amazing opportunity: the chance to meet a best-selling author, to visit a world class spa, to try new foods, to visit a new city and state. Certainly, all of this is nothing to sneeze about. It’s dazzling, really. The thing about dazzling, though, is that it has a tendency to blind you with its beauty, and when you can’t see, it can be difficult to move forward.
But that’s what I’d been doing all of this time, moving forward and pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone. And for the first time as I stood there with Cheryl, suitcases in hand and standing in the airport which was roiling with a purposeful chaos, I felt more excitement than nervousness.
We checked Cheryl’s suitcase and found our way to security where we performed all of the now-standard checks and precautions. You know, as if I the well-seasoned traveler would know all of these things are standard now. And the next thing I knew, I’d slipped my shoes back onto my feet and we were walking briskly through the airport to find our gate. That brisk walk—at least for me—was new and exhilarating. There were people of all walks of life from just about everywhere obviously going just about anywhere, and they were all doing it at an amped up speed. It was as if someone had hit the x2 fast forward button on that big remote control of life. And suddenly we were at our gate, waiting. Of course, the digital signs were wrong and it turned out that our gate really wasn’t our gate, but that was easily solved by just listening to the announcements.
So what do you do while you wait for a plane? You watch…and, oh, are there some interesting people to see at an airport. And you listen, especially when the person sitting next to you is having a very loud conversation into her cell phone. There are times when you can’t help but listen. And really, is it eavesdropping when the person is so loud she might as well be talking to you? I learned all about her jewelry, purse, shoe line—what’s hot and what’s not—what the boutiques will buy—and why you should never sell anything based on commission. These nuggets of gospel truth came from the mouth of someone at least twelve years younger than I am. And once again, instead of being irritated by a loud-cell-phone talker who is reminding me that I am getting older by the second, I’m struck in the same way I was by my stylist just three days earlier. Some people have the guts to get out there and go—to do their thing and make their dream a reality. There’s a lesson in that, and I have to find it. I have to figure it out. I have to understand it. Or maybe, maybe I don’t have to understand any of it. Instead, maybe I just have to do it for myself.
And just like that, it’s time for us to board the plane.
As I’ve said, I am not the most experienced when it comes to flying. I also, well, don’t really like it that much. It’s a heights thing…and a claustrophobia thing…and a control thing. Way up in the air, lots of people, small space, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about any of it. Oh, so not happy about that. Give me a car that I can get in and out of at-will at just about any time, and I’m much more comfortable. However, this is the way it is and it’s an adventure and an opportunity.
“I don’t like flying,” I say, shoving my tote bag under the seat in front of me.
“How many times have you flown?” Cheryl asks.
“Well, if you count the trips to and from DC separately…”
“Then twice,” I say matter-of-factly.
“And you were going to get on a plane and fly across the ocean to Spain?”
“Well, yeah. It was Spain.”
“You’re nuts,” she says, rolling her eyes while she laughs at me.
And Cheryl is right. I am a little nuts.
The important part: she doesn’t laugh at me when I close my eyes and force myself to breathe as the plane takes off. Thirty or so minutes later, I’m okay enough to make myself take a look out the window.
“That is not a natural view,” I say, and Cheryl laughs at—with—me again.
I pull out my camera. I mean, it’d be silly not to take a few obligatory plane shots.
I look out at the wing. I read the words on the wing that warn not to step on a certain part of that, and I cannot help but think about Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins. I force my brain to shut up. It’s a bit like thinking about Prufrock’s first few lines while getting an MRI, completely unhelpful.
It’s easy to be brave with the camera as a shield.
Cheryl and I spent the trip amused by our flight attendant, Ernestine. Her no-nonsense approach kept us laughing almost as much as the two guys sitting in the seats next to us.
“What’re you doin’ in Austin?”
“Oh, a friend is having his bachelor party. How about you?”
“Same thing—only we haven’t got the excuse of a wedding.”
And then we landed. And we were there. And we were climbing off of the plane.
Here’s a tip. If you have to check your bag at the gate because there isn’t enough space in the overhead bins, make sure you wait for your bag you know at the airplane. If you don’t, they won’t let you back down to get it. Then you have to wait until everyone leaves for the person at the podium to go get your bag for you. And you feel a bit silly.
Another tip? Call your spouse as soon as you get off of the plane, especially if you have ten minutes to kill while you wait for the bag that you should have waited for earlier.
And like that, my bag in hand, we were in Austin and it was time to find the baggage claim to collect Cheryl’s bag and to figure out where this car that was supposed to pick us up would be.
We were in Austin, baby.
Author. Spa. Texas.
Go big or go home.
The above is part of my account of the fairy-tale that I was lucky enough to have my friend share with me earlier this month. If you read and have no idea what the heck I’m talking about and have the desire to find out, you can start at the beginning with the first four posts:
Tuna Cavatappi Be Damned (6/6/12)
Unintentionally Apt (6/7/12)
The Demon Known as Self-Doubt (6/8/12)
Time Present and Time Past (6/11/ 12)