Anxious Traveler

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I’ve discovered why I’ve been so easily distracted lately. (If you couldn’t tell, look at yesterday’s entry written in third-grade English.) I’m anxious about my trip to Taiwan tomorrow. This is a good anxiety, but something that’s keeping me from writing much or thinking straight. Long trips put me in this mood. The anxiety has to do with the flight. The length of it—around 15 hours last time I counted (they thankfully didn’t indicate the flight time on the ticket—depresses me a bit and makes my back ache in foreshadowing pain, but those thoughts don’t make me anxious. What does is the flying experience. I’m not scared of the plane crashing—although, I admit that I sometimes feel like Tyler Durden in “Fight Club,” when he’s sitting on the airplane, eating a sandwich, and imagining a mid-air collision of his airplane. I have those thoughts, but they’re disinterested thoughts, such as, I wonder what it would feel like if an airplane popped up out of the cloudbank we’re flying over and slammed into us. I would spend the next fifteen minutes staring at the clouds and trying to predict where the airplane would appear. I’m happy to say it never has. When the engines’ whines changes, particularly right after take off, when they just about turn off the engines to lower the noise output (for the neighborhood children’s sake, I’m sure—“What about the children, the children?”), after they get a few thousand feet in the air, my stomach does feel queasy, as it does with unexpected turbulence, but it settles down quickly, and I can go back to my reading or watching movies, or whatever else I’m trying to do to entertain myself in that torturous box.

My real anxiety relates to missing the flight. I wasn’t always anxious. I remember a time, and it wasn’t too long ago, perhaps two years ago, when being the cool and well-traveled individual that I was, I would arrive at the airport a mere thirty minutes before my flight. Thanks to my Continental Elite status—I was Platinum Elite, a very important elite status, indeed—I would sail through security and be the first to board. The ideal trip involved me getting to the gate just as they started to board the Elite members, which in case you forgot, I, a Platinum Elite person, was. Times have changed. I’m no longer Platinum Elite (the most important), but merely Gold Elite, still important, but not, why, I’m sorry sir, I didn’t see the Platinum Elite mark, please, come this way, and let me take care of your every need. But it’s more than just my oversized sense of importance that has fallen by the wayside. When I made the decision to stop being Mr. Cool, Important Traveler, I did it because the anxiety of getting to the airport and not missing my flight was wearing thin on me.

What broke me was missing a flight to London. I didn’t miss it because I was late (I wasn’t early, but I did arrive in plenty of time). I arrived at the airport with time to spare, parked my car, and realized, as I pulled my luggage out of the trunk, that I forgot to bring my passport. I drove like a maniac along Beltway 8 to my apartment in a feeble attempt to fetch my passport, and slammed into rush-hour traffic. There was no way I would make the flight. I flew to London the next day, but I was a shadow of the man I was the day before. No longer was I Super Traveler. I was, I’m sad to say, just another neurotic traveler getting to the airport more than two hours before his flight to keep my stress levels as low as possible.

The nervousness over missing flights and being cooped up in a small space for a long time has squished together to form a small pit in the lower-right quarter of my stomach. It’ll pass (and, no, not in the way you’re thinking—it’s not real, just a figment of my imagination), but for now, I need to deal with it and accept that I won’t do real writing and thinking.

Although I try not to do this, I have to apologize for yesterday’s entry. Glancing through it last night after I posted it, I realized how deformed and childish the prose was. I spent maybe fifteen minutes writing the words, and it shows. I was tired from all the video game playing and the distractions that had been filling my life. I’m not angry because of the poor writing—there have been many days where I, and at times others, have looked at one of my entries and asked me how I found the courage to post them—but more because I wasted precious writing time doing useless things. I admit I’m not perfect and, I think I had an acronym, let me check—no need, I remembered it—NEQID, in my never-ending quest to improve David, I have to point out where my failings are. I haven’t done much NEQID lately. If anything, I slid backwards by playing too many video games and not spending enough time on more important things.

Over the next ten days, I will do a lot of writing, reading, and spending time with Doolies. I will hopefully have internet access, and will continue my daily musings—although, please remember that the time difference might confuse you (except you, Chuck, who will not be confused but more like happily surprised at my posting times). I think the time difference is around 12-15 hours, depending on which side of the states you swing. Until tomorrow, or whenever I end up posting my entries I write—and please let there be many—on the airplane.