As I write this I am sitting in the aisle seat on Northeast Regional #177 southbound to New York City. I have remnants of tomato juice that seemingly leaked from my sandwich, all over my Aerie leggings, and Uncle Kracker playing through my Airpods. I’m growing considerably more concerned for the woman behind me as the velocity of her coughs and the rigor of her sniffles are drastically increasing. If I was a betting woman, and I am… I would say she probably has COVID. I would also probably say she can read me typing this as we speak, so I’m going to decrease my 110% zoom and brightness just a tad.
Alright, coast is clear again.
For the past few weeks and for the rest of the near future, my life is an amalgamation of planes, trains and automobiles. Although I’ve never seen the film, my dad loves it and I’ve decided to steal the title for this next rendition of my verbal diarrhea. (Sorry to use that term, I’ve got to work on my elegance.) Seven straight weeks of travel for the girl; a mixture of work and play, friends and family, relaxation, and tasteful anxiety. You know, balance and shit. I recently have been travelling with this heinous purple carry-on from TJ Maxx, and every time I go through TSA, I am convinced I’d appear cooler if I was carrying an L.L. Bean lime green backpack with my full name on it. This thing looks like something even third grade me wouldn’t pick out and honestly kind of crimps my travel aesthetic (which in case your wondering, is a pair of beat up Vans and a 90’s crewneck from Goodwill), but hey… it gets the job done.
When I made my way out to California, I was met with a daily routine of 5:00am meetings (Eastern hours out West are a blessing and a curse), heading to the beach to catch an afternoon tan while concurrently FaceTiming my long term therapist Joseph Battaglia to remind him that it’s 75 and sunny where I am, and a lame 42 degrees in Brooklyn, enjoying meals with my eighty year old grandparents, and dabbling into the California workout scene. (Run on sentence much? Oops)
I’ve learned a lifetimes worth of lessons during my recent travels, but one in particular that came to light during my hour in hell. The first red flag and indication of torture should’ve been the fact that a singular yoga class in Hermosa Beach cost me $30, but I figured “Eh, you’re on vacation, live a little.” I show up in what I thought to be a cute yogi outfit pumped up and ready to go. I was instantly met with a cluster of people copied and pasted directly from the Lululemon website, each one in better shape than the next, all passing judgement on my mix-matched socks.
If you know me, you know working out is already not my jam. If you’re not blasting Ke$ha to me as I’m doing it, or you expect be to r*n, you’ve got another thing coming. The temperature in this joint made Scottsdale in August seem appealing. Hydrating solely off an iced caramel cold brew and walking into a 110 degree room sardined between perfectly tanned and toned middle aged influencers is truly a humbling experience. I have never, in my entire life, felt as close to death as I did in that class. Between every sequence of downward dog, the only thing going through my brain was “How do I fake an emergency and dip out of here without looking like an L7 weenie?”
Nonetheless, I survived the class, and it became one of many “I-am-not-cut-out-for-this” moments for me in the past couple of months of travel. Between losing all the cash in my wallet within 30 seconds of attempting to try my hand at gambling in Atlantic City, or accidentally throwing away the only house key to my friend’s dad’s new vacation home in North Carolina less than an hour before our flight home boarded, the amount of times I mess things up a long the way is plentiful. But it’s also what makes this stage in my life so fun. I think a lot of times people can confuse travel with glamorous vacations, palm trees, sight seeing etc., but for me, the fun part is the journey, the mistakes and the people I meet along the way.
During our second night in Wilmington, I was sitting at a picnic table around 2am, eating pizza off a paper plate, having a heart to heart with one of the locals about how big and cool the world is. He told me he had never been 60 minutes past his home town in his life, but would love to get to Australia if he ever got the chance. Two strangers, different ages, different backgrounds, who crossed paths for a mere instance of time to share thoughts and dreams over a greasy $1 slice.
During my 8am Uber ride from BWI to my best friend’s apartment, my Uber driver, George and I talked about his recent divorce, his desire to be closer with his teenage daughter and how the whole process has been a lot to bear. When he dropped me off in the torrential rain, he got out of the car, tears in his eyes to thank me with a hug for lending an ear.
On my flight to Philly a few weeks ago, I met a mom of five who had an affinity for the arts, but had put her hobbies on hold while balancing the difficult juggling act of being a mother, a wife, a business woman and all the other great things she is. We talked about paintings, and passion, and the importance of prioritizing the things that bring us joy, even when it’s hard to find the time to.
I showed an older gentleman how to air-drop photos last time I was in New York, which he thought was the coolest thing. Later that day, an older gentleman taught me how to use the subway to get to my office in Midtown on time and more efficiently than the way I had been doing it, which I thought was the coolest thing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but people truly do make a place. Although travelling quite a bit on my own can be lonely and a bit overwhelming at times, the serendipitous connections to be made in transit, often have me leaving my plane, train or automobile with a new found appreciation for someone I did not know when the day began. The shared conversation across the aisle, the brief moments of vulnerability and honesty amongst strangers for no reason aside from simply needing an ear, an outlet, or an unbiased opinion. As the year goes on, and my travels continue, I am excited thinking about all the mothers, fathers, townies, art-enthusiasts and yogis I’ll cross paths with for a matter of minutes. No matter where I go from here, I hope to leave all the people I meet in my travels little better than when I found them. I’m a work in progress, but it’s endlessly reassuring once you realize damn near everyone else is too. I revel in excitement thinking about what the world and it’s inhabitants have to teach me next.
And the more I think about it, the more I hope it’s how to be a better at Sudoko, I kind of suck at it.
Sweet dreams, safe travels and to anyone who has the misfortune of sitting next to a caffeinated me on an early morning flight, I apologize in advance for my multitude of questions, the close proximity in which I ask them, and the unnecessarily loud volume of my voice. I’m just curious, okay?