ANXIETY, SUPERSTITION AND TRAVEL
I hate to travel. Oh, I like “being there”; I just hate getting there. I’ll love the idea of a trip 3 months before, but 3 days before, I’m cursing myself for ever thinking it would be a good idea. All I can see a few days before a trip is the laundry, the packing, the unpacking; the checking (and rechecking) the check list. I hate the last 10 minutes before we leave the house. I dread the ride to the airport and the endless lines. Sending my carry ons through the X-ray thing and worrying I’m gonna get in trouble…..
I hate to fly. Airplanes terrify me. I believe that if I don’t touch the outside of the plane as I embark the plane will go down. I’m the only one who still always reads the emergency card and I count the number of rows to the nearest exit. I worry that my mask won’t fall down. An airplane toilet is what I think hell looks like. I once flew all the way from Paris to Kuala Lumpur with the fingers on both hands crossed. When I landed my friend had to unwind them for me….
You know how they tell you to turn off all electronic equipment? I was once on a plane about to take off when I heard very faint music coming from somewhere beside me. I pressed the call button and when the irritated flight attendant arrived, I sheepishly explained to her that someone was still “illegally” using their walkman (It was 1989). We’re taxiing and she’s humoring me by checking the seats behind, beside and in front of me. When she couldn’t find the offender, I asked her desperately to check again. She asked me to try and pinpoint exactly where the sound was coming from. So I followed my ear right down to the little hole that you plug your headphones into….. I’m afraid of crashing. I’m not afraid of the crash, just the crashing. I was enormously relieved the other day when a friend who is a flight attendant told me that the oxygen masks contained more than just air. There are sedatives in there! Of course, now I’m even more worried my mask won’t come down…. During turbulence, I’m the lady gripping the armrests and rediscovering God. Now that I travel with my kids I have to put on a Tony-worthy performance of nonchalance and confidence. It’s exhausting...
I hate landing but I love to have landed. Once safely on the ground, I (try to) never forget to send out a silent thanks to the universe. I feel lucky every time I live through a flight. Every friend I’ve ever traveled with, no matter how fearless a flier before, is now a confirmed coward. They blame me for this... So now here I am attempting to build an international community of women friends and travelers. I am constantly encouraging women to travel. I say “Go! Go!” and I list all the reason travel is good for you. I say sacrifice and save for trips that will fill your heart with wonder instead of your closet full of clothes. Even though everything I say is true, I feel like a fraud….
Article by Anna Quick Palmer