Saturday, August 14, 2010

Up in the Air Bender

As some of you know, my work requires a fair amount of travel. The downside of course, is being away from my family.   Apart from that, I have to admit that I kinda love it.

One would think that after more than thirteen years of planes, trains and automobiles my travel glow would have faded.  Okay, so the driving I could live without.  But I actually enjoy airports, especially when I am traveling alone.

What's not to love?
      - The usually free Wi-Fi, though suddenly a non-issue thanks to my brand new iPad.
      - People watching; I could spend hours creating stories of others' lives.
      - A blissful sense of solitude, despite the crowds. This may surprise you but I am so NOT a chatty Cathy when I travel. It's a relief to rest my mind and voice for a few hours.
      - Tasty treats; everyone knows that Hudson News takes the calories out of all their snacks (wink, wink).
      - Responsibility only for me, myself and I.  When I'm on the road, it's all about me. (This is in stark contrast to my usual days of course.)

My love of airports could go back to when my dad used to take us to go watch the planes take off and land.  More likely it stems from my senior year of college back in Boston.

My childhood home was within easy driving distance from my residence on campus. However, most of my friends lived outside the "close enough for mom and dad to drop by" range.

We'd start out as a crowd of maybe a dozen creative types, just "hanging out" in Logan International Airport. In retrospect, probably too full of energy for the hour.  

I want to say we started the day with coffee. Yet my memory of it is fuzzy enough that it was probably something alcoholic. A little "hair of the dog" given the prior evening's celebration of finals being over.  Plus, we were all newly of age to drink so there was a sort of novelty to being able to sit and imbibe in public. 

So then, I want to say we enjoyed some big, spicy Bloody Mary drinks. Except we were all pretty broke and were unlikely to sustain ourselves on such an expensive choice.  Not to mention that back then you could buy three packs of cigarettes for the price of one Bloody (and it was still legal to smoke indoors, despite how disgusting that sounds now.)

Maybe next trip I'll stop into the Samuel Adams bar for a cheap draft beer and see if it conjures up any memories.

Anyhoo... one by one, flights departed for New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida.  Even St. Thomas and Germany.  The crowd got smaller and smaller until I was the only one left.  I took the "T" back to campus and waited for my dad to come pick me up.   The car ride from school to home signified the temporary but welcome journey from (perceived) independence back to dependence again.

Since I knew I'd be seeing everyone again soon, it was au revoir but not goodbye. The memory was not about a bunch of hungover, obnoxious undergrads, drinkin' beer and smokin' "butts" but about friendship, laughter, support and the comfort of such ritual.

These days, I still like get to the airport plenty early. I like to be relaxed, not stressed. I enjoy being one of the shiny, happy people. The sort that asks the TSA agent how they are doing, has a smile on their face as they walk down the aisle of the plane and doesn't get impatient with the person who takes far too long to put their bag in the overhead.

If you saw the movie, "Up in the Air," you can picture a more positive, quirky female version of George Clooney.   (Though I don't have near the frequent flyer perks thanks to my preference for family-friendly scheduling over airline loyalty.)

Last week I had a day trip to Raleigh, NC. In a surprisingly long security line for 5:45am, I accidentally bumped the lady in front of me.

She was tall and thin (but not fit), probably in her late 40s but still 20 in her mind.  Her hair was clearly confused about being teased "big" in one decade only to be over-straightened as flat as a board in another.   I found myself wondering if she borrowed her outfit from her daughter, or if she had recently raided the Juniors section of Ross for Less, or if her clothes were just well-maintained items from the Tello's days when she actually was 20.  

My sister got me to stop me wearing my acid-washed jeans by enlightening me that, "Just because you can still fit into them doesn't mean you should."   

(So, I ain't sayin'.... I'm just sayin'.)

As if with double annoyance that I had bumped her and was thinking such rude, judgmental thoughts, she whipped around and glared at me.  Yikes.   If looks could kill.   Now she was not only in great need of a makeunder but clearly angry as well.

"Watch it!" she hissed.

"I'm so very sorry," I replied back in as friendly tone as I could muster. "Haven't had my coffee yet."

Somehow I guessed that this woman knew the language of caffeine.

The alternative response in my head was "Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?" but I opted for adding my very best "olive juice" smile instead. A peace offering.

This encounter made me think of a film I talked about in a previous post.  After that movie, Miss M made everyone in the family take an online quiz to determine which kind of "Bender" we each were. I secretly wanted to be an Air Bender so the results were very gratifying for me. (Might be a Gemini thing.).

Anyhoo, one of the questions was actually about what your reaction would be if someone accidentally bumped into you.   No question that my Tellos friend in the security line was a Fire Bender.

What kind of bender (or traveler) are you?
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Acting Balanced Mom said...

I'm a 'let it be' traveler... then again I pack for every possible instance when I travel with the kids... I've learned through trial and error that when traveling alone with my two kids and we have a layover of any length that we need to pack clothes for the next day in our carryons because inevitably we will be seeing museums or parks in some hub city after dragging our butts to a hotel in the wee hours... I loved airports until I tried to find a comfy place to breastfeed... and then it sucked ... otherwise they're pretty good

Charlene said...

ABM - traveling with kids is a whole 'nother story but definitely good preparation is key! (and I hear ya on airports not being "nursing friendly" - that is a bummer for sure.)

Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli said...

Most of my travels involve the car. Which I don't love so much. It's a love/hate relationship. I don't need to pack as well to throw everything in the car but it's long and the kids get cranky.
Visiting from blogfrog.

Charlene said...

Kristin - you'll have to check out my last "Meditation Monday" post then for some driving meditation! Thanks for visiting!

Liza said...

I love traveling alone. Like you, I enjoyed airports by myself. After visiting Europe many times and studying in London for a year during college, I did the obilgatory after-graduation trip through Europe for 3 weeks. I didn't know anyone when I went. I went with a group of people from all over the world. At our last stop in Italy, I was by myself. Just in Venice taking the taxi boats, looking for a place to have dinner. It's very freeing. I almost always had a smile on my face. It's kind of like you have a secret when you travel alone, you know? Sometimes I miss it. Now that I'm married and have a newborn, I don't know how much traveling I'll be doing by myself. But, I wouldn't trade my life now for my life then.

Visiting from SITS 31DBBB Day 27!

Judy Harper said...

I love airports too! It is fun to people watch. I'm like you, I try to make up stories for the people around me. My parents would also take us to the Chattanooga, Tennessee airport and we would watch the planes take off. It was exciting thinking about people flying off into the blue sky to different destinations. Hope you have a good SITS week!

JadeLD said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I get to travel with work a lot too and I really do enjoy it. There's something quite releasing about traveling on your own and doing whatever you want, reading your book, wandering from shop to shop etc.

Although I've got a pretty long flight this week to Sydney from the UK and even though I like hanging out in the airport I'm not exactly looking forward to spending almost 2 days on a plane.

Missa said...

I travel for work too. I just came back from 3 day car trip.. I love getting a rental car. I always wonder what kind I will get, and I really like the idea of putting on my tunes and going on a little adventure. There isn't anyone but me in the car, and I can sing till my heart explodes.
Total me time.


Charlene said...

Thanks for such thoughtful comments!

Liza - you may be surprised... But my best advice is to get the wee one used to being a "good traveler" at a young age and prepare well for each trip. Or, get a nanny for a week and enjoy a nice trip to Venice for old times sake! Congrats on the baby!

Judy - oh good! I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that re: people watching stories.

Jade - one word for ya... IPad! I don't think I could live without mine now!

Missa - music is a highlight for me as well. I don't know why but renting cars always makes me nervous. Next time I will think of you and channel that positive energy!

tc said...

Despite my tendency towards being a defensive driver (some say aggressive) if I'm bumped into I'm usually going to say it's my fault despite what I think of the person. Unless they are drunk and they think it's funny in which case they MAY be sorry they did it no matter if they are male or female, rich or poor......

TC said...

Oh I forgot, re your acid wash jeans....I KNOW I have some clothes my kids would just as soon I get rid as when I was skinny enough for a bikini, just because you CAN wear it doesn't mean you should.....of course they would like for me to weigh close to 200, let my hair go gray and cut it short and maybe start shuffling instead of walking would be a nice touch too.....

Cheryl @ On the Old Path said...

Oh I am the least travelled person on the face of the earth I think....but I dream about one day...I think it is fantastic you love your job and all the travelling!!!

Sarah said...

That college ritual sounds like fun, although Steve Slater, a clear hell bender, might smack all of you out of the airport pronto!

foxy said...

Man, some people can be so RUDE. Ugh. I do love the people watching in the airport though... oh what a way to waste some time!

And acid washed jeans... that made me snicker. :)

Sandra said...

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