Out of all my ideas...all of the thoughts and phrases I think of to describe my daily life, these are the two words I so often turn to when change hits. I knew something was up when I could not finish my margarita at Pappasito’s before my flight. I did fine on the queso, and not too bad on my enchilada come to think of it, but for me to not finish a drink...especially one that is paid for, is a warning sign.
I should have seen it when I yelled at my mom to leave me alone as she tried to help me lift my bag onto the scale. Everything was building up and I stressed over these two idiotic girls whose hollow heads and bright coloured jackets cut in front of me and decided to flirt with the baggage check workers in order to get through before me. Seeing as they were a waste of space and time but somehow were taken first in line, I tried to quickly check in and get my luggage to the Continental desk because I only had an hour until my flight left and what if a huge pack of Brits or the entire Premier League or vacationers stormed into Houston Intercontinental with no checked bags and left me nothing but a huge security line to go through and I missed my flight and I freak out and then somehow my visa gets taken and I AM LEFT IN TEXAS FOREVER?!?!
Goal #1: Stop thinking the worst and give people around you (no matter how utterly stupid they are) a break.
Finally, the man took my luggage and I parted with my perfectly packed bag (done by my perfectly wonderful sister whose ability to pack everything into one suitcase without a wrinkle is surely a phenom that world travellers alike would love for her to document) and headed to security.
Time to say goodbye to my family. Having cried almost every night through December I fought back the tears as I tried to give quick hugs while at the same time convey the message: “I am not abandoning you, the people I love, to selfishly live my life, I just want to be the best Laura I can be for you. I want you to be proud.”
Right. Not sure that it was felt or heard loud and clear but I had to go on to the next task, Security.
While there were only a few people in line, I still tried to go through at lightning speed, at whatever cost to my own well being. Get out computer. Throw it in bucket. Slip off your shoes that should be untied because the heels wear and you get so mad when the heels wear but slipping off is faster. Come on, Duncan, no one gives you a gold star when you take time for yourself, only when you make their lives better. Do all this while walking and moving your luggage because somewhere somebody behind you is judging you for how long you take...just as you judged the man who forgot to empty his pockets in front of you and the guy who could have increased his unloading process by more accurately estimating the number of buckets he needs for all of his belongings.
Goal #2 Update the latter part of Goal #1 to include “slow” people and try to give yourself a break as well while you’re at it.
After awarding myself 3rd place in the Security line contest (a close race, but the man on business was able to really cut his time by making his laptop more accessible), I gave myself the next list of tasks to accomplish. Go to bathroom, start calling the bathroom the toilet or loo, and get some water.
The only real task I have left to do now is to pass out on the plane and manage not to lose my passport during the flight. Then I am there. Then I’ve really done it. Surely there has to be something else on my American to do list before I move on to the UK to do list . That list involves terrifying things like : find a place to live, make new friends, become the perfect person you have fabricated in your head whose schedule (note: start calling it diary) includes nothing but going to wine club meetings, writing acceptance speeches for the awards ceremonies you will be attending, dating a beautiful man who loves you for who you are, and of course- being in kick ass shape all of the time. What else could I do here before journeying into the land of unattainable expectations?
I thought it best for my nerves to give my friends a call and say one last goodbye. I was wrong. With each call I cried harder and harder all while trying to be stronger and stronger. I kept looking for an answer, a promise from God that would come out of someone’s mouth and tell me that this was about to be the best part of my life and not the scariest. I looked for an EXACT estimate of how long it would take for me to feel settled. I wanted Him to tell me that there was a reason I’ve worked so hard for this moment and that I was leaving everything I knew for something even better.
Then I had to do it. If only to hear their voices on a local line again, I called my parents. The thing about parents is their inherent ability to remove whatever mask you may have on display, analyze what you do not tell them, and then say the right thing. In this case, they knew I was nearing panic attack but mentioned nothing of the sort, and suggested I enjoy some ice cream or do some last minute airport shopping.
Finally, I was able to assign myself another task, get in line and get on the plane. I had stayed in the night before solely to log on at 6:45 and secure a nice window seat, and I was so happy with myself for doing so. I also invested in a cool looking black tracksuit, because when my best friend went on her honeymoon she looked so cool wearing it around and told me it made one a REAL traveller to have an outfit JUST for travel. I knew the next few weeks would be hard. I had been planning and prepping for months, but still had a lot to do after landing. I needed to rest.
While shuffling down the aisle, a family of 3 were sitting in my row, one of them occupying my seat. Great- I think. I have to be the mean person when really they are the ones breaking the rules. After politely informing the man that his daughter is occupying my seat, the man of the family asks if I will take his seat instead, so he can be with his family. “Are you alone? All by yourself? Then why does it matter where you sit”
...and that was when my exhaustion and anger hit. Why does it matter? Why does it matter?! I’ll tell you why it matters! While I am sure this comes as a shock to you, even SINGLE people have rights in this world. I've kept my dreams shoved under a bed of hard work, negativity, and effort to make people happy in a situation that made me unhappy so that one day I could live abroad. I slept in that bed for over two years to be able to stand here today. On my own two feet. Supporting myself...yes just me...so that I could not only get here, but get here comfortably. In a window seat. In my tracksuit. So yes, it matters where I sit you unthoughtful, miserable excuse for a law abiding airline citizen.”
Instead I tried to give him a look and sat in the middle aisle seat that was supposed to be his destination. Which, of course he lied about, and (of course) his real seat was the middle seat, in the middle aisle, next to someone who should have bought a few seats for himself. Overreacting much? Maybe, but no monumental moments such as this should be soured by a man and his inability to understand the significance of my journey- which was supposed to begin in a window seat.
Goal #3: Realize that no matter how hard you plan, someone or something could always be there to screw it up. Also, if you can’t control your airline anger, be content in the knowledge that Ambien solves anything.
And so the flight, the journey, my odyssey, began.