I’m writing this post from Boston Logan airport, where I have a six (!!) hour layover before my flight to San Francisco. Oh, and I took a seven-and-a-half hour flight from London to get here. So by the time I arrive in San Francisco, I will have been in an airport or plane (most likely without sleep) for a full twenty-four hours. Yippee.
When you live abroad for extended periods of time, you have to do this kind of travel fairly often, at least if you want to ever see your family or attend milestone events, which I do. Things get complicated when one’s family lives in San Francisco, which seems to be the furthest city on Earth from every other city I’ve ever lived in or have wanted to live in. (São Paulo-San Francisco was bad. Joburg-San Francisco was ridiculous. London-San Francisco, perhaps not surprisingly, is also not great). But sitting on long plane rides is one of the tradeoffs you make to live in cool, far-flung places. And, as I pointed out a while ago, living abroad does involve some tradeoffs.
My attitude on long-haul travel has shifted over the years. When I was a kid, I loved riding on planes and thought going to the airport was exciting and even a touch glamorous. Then 9-11 happened and I started to get really rattled by turbulence, which, I realize, is not logical, but there it is. (I guess my brain thought the terrorists were shaking the plane? I don’t know. Don’t question it). This new phobia meant that I no longer enjoyed the experience of being on a plane. Airports also no longer seemed glamorous, but instead seemed vaguely menacing. To make matters worse, over the years, my patience for sitting on my butt in a cramped plane seat has decreased as the hassle of air travel has increased. I mean, for the last twelve years or so, going to the airport has become such a colossal pain in the butt, you know? International travel is an even BIGGER pain in the butt, because of customs, and passport controls, and long lines, and time zones, and threat levels, and so on. Just the thought of it is exhausting. But you grit your teeth and you get through it. What’s the alternative? Don’t travel? Come on.
Of course, I miss the days when I looked forward to travel, but my attitude toward flying has improved a bit over the years. I no longer white-knuckle it through turbulence, unless it’s really bad. (This blog helped). Today’s travel, so far, has been really smooth, and even had a few moments of luck thrown in. The first bit of luck was that the guy in Heathrow decided not to charge me for my grossly overweight bag (which, oddly, never happens when I’m traveling with Al — hmm!). Then, I got an aisle seat on the plane (score!) and every single time I went to the bathroom (approximately 20 times), the lavatory was empty (double score!). That has NEVER happened to me on a flight before. Normally, I’m the small-bladdered lady standing in the aisle, impatiently waiting for someone to get out of the bathroom, already. But not today! My good luck sort of ran out in Boston when I couldn’t get on an earlier flight to San Francisco and I got charged $50 for my ginormous bag, but at least they let me check in for my flight six hours early. So things aren’t all bad.
Next time I write, I’ll be in San Francisco (and not on a plane OR in an airport). Can’t wait!