Welcome to the thirteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Road Trip!
This week I’m focusing on gratitude for the road trip to Calgary that I have done annually for the past two years (this is now the third time).
Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of July 13 – July 19, 2018!
Things I am thankful for over the past week:
Early in my visit to Calgary, we went to watch my cousin Ty’s soccer game and I got some time with his family’s dog, Kobe. I just love him!
Dad, Sharon, and I went for wing night at their local pub twice, and it was super delicious.
I spent almost every afternoon reading and sunbathing in the back yard on a lawn chair, finishing 5.5 books!
I got to see everyone in the family at least once, which rarely happens because they’re often travelling in the summer!
One of those visits was a fun little trip to Fish Creek with one of my cousins and her two kids! We skipped rocks by the river and sat down for ice cream at Annie’s.
On Monday, we went to Waterton Lakes National Park. We intended to go down for canoeing at Cameron Lake, but when we got there it was closed because of bears! Instead, we sat on the beach by the main lake for lunch and then got ice cream at a place called The Big Scoop. It was lovely anyway!
We got some more family time (and Kobe time!!) later in the week.
Dad, Sharon, and I got a few runs in, even though it was super super hot! It felt good to be able to move my legs.
This beautiful sunset!
There’s a new movie theatre out by my parents’ house, and the seats are AMAZING. There’s a button you push and then they recline electrically!
And the theme for this week, Road Trip!
I know this post has pretty much all been about my road trip already, but I have a few things to be thankful for about the road trip specifically.
First, I just really love the drive. It takes me about 11.5 hours (with three quick pee/coffee/snack stops). I take my own lunch and snacks also so that I don’t have to wait a while at Tim’s for food. Most people exclaim various things about my craziness at doing a drive that long all in one day/alone. They also express surprise that I enjoy it, but I really do. I’ve always loved driving (as long as it’s not in heavy traffic). It’s almost meditative for me, but I assure you, I stay focused and safe.
Another thing I love about this long drive is that I pre-load over 100 podcasts into a queue on my phone and plug it in before I get going. As you probably already know from reading my other posts, podcasts are an obsession of mine, and long drives are a great way to get caught up. And if I’m not feeling something, I just skip on ahead using my radio controls!
Finally, if you’re going to do a road trip, the drive between Vancouver and Calgary is one of the best. You get a great rip (if the weather is good) on the Coquihalla Highway, where the limit goes as high as 120km/h. The ride through Glacier National Park and Roger’s Pass is stunning. The mountains and forests are gorgeous and ever-changing. It’s the opposite of boring!
Overall, this year the construction was the least intrusive that I’ve ever seen it. I only had to stop a couple of times, whereas last year I remember sitting and waiting for 15-30 minutes in some places. And the weather was pretty good. Fairly rainy on the way over to Calgary but not so much that it slowed me down, and absolutely beautiful on the way back to Vancouver.
There you have it!
So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!
I have lived in the big city of Vancouver for 7 years. When I was 18 years old, I left New Brunswick for British Columbia to attend UBC. The official anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here my entire life. Other times I can’t believe it’s been that long. I definitely felt both of these feelings multiple times when I went to visit my hometown last week.
I grew up in the Kennebecasis Valley, which is an umbrella term for the two adjacent towns of Quispamsis and Rothesay. These are suburbs of Saint John (not to be mistaken for St. John’s, NFLD). Throughout this article I use the blanket phrases small town and big city. However, the experiences I write about are specifically drawn from the KV and Vancouver.
[Language nerd alert: I wrote the title for this post a couple of days ago. Current me is loving past me for subconsciously making it sound like “Sit Still Look Pretty,” by Daya, one of my current favourite songs. Just had to put that out there.]
The longer I live in a big city, the more interesting it is to go back to my small hometown. It’s so interesting the way a person’s perspective, and even personality, can change based on the environment they live in. There are things I used to love about my small town upbringing that I really dislike now. I do still miss some of the things I thought I would when I first left, like seeing the stars and having a backyard. However, I’m surprised to dread returning to some of the other aspects of a small town. Here’s a look at some of the things I’ve found to be very polarizing between big cities and small towns.
Things that are drastically different when comparing a small town and a big city:
1. Definition of traffic.
In a small town, people define heavy traffic/”rush hour” as “more cars than none.” It won’t affect your travel time at all; the added vehicles will only affect the amount of space you have around you as you drive. In a big city, people define heavy traffic/rush hour as traffic being stop-start rather than flowing. Heavy traffic in cities severely impacts travel time. I find this contrast amusing.
Because of this difference in traffic, measurements for distance are different. When measuring distance in a small town, people use minutes. It rarely ever takes a longer (or shorter) amount of time than usual to get anywhere. In a big city, you use literal distance, (here in Canada km). This is because even a distance as small as 10km (like my drive to work) can fluctuate as much as between 13 and 105 minutes. No joke.
As a rule, in a small town, people are too polite as drivers. Just this last trip, we were driving on a road with a 60km/h limit, and the car in front of us slowed to about 35km/h because he saw that someone coming from the opposite direction was waiting to cross our path to turn left. Just let that sink in for a second. He slowed to a crawl to let someone turn left. Was there a long line of cars behind us? No. The other car’s path would have been completely clear for him to make a left turn as soon as us two cars had passed. Unreal.
Also, the old “You go!” “No you go!” game happens all the time, especially at 4-way stops and in parking lots. That shit causes accidents. There’s a reason there are rules for those things. Honestly. You want to make me panic? Force me to play chicken with a small town driver who’s trying to be nice.
People really take their time as drivers in small towns as well – again on this trip, we had a person take a good minute to reverse into his driveway in front of us all the while completely blocking our path. And that’s not the entire parking job. That’s just how long it took them to get out of the way of oncoming “traffic” (aka us). In a big city, you need skill at performing precise maneuvers quickly, or you face the wrath of the masses. It’s made me a better driver, but also a sometimes more anxious one, especially when parking (usually parallel).
Also, more likely than not in a small town, a person will slow down at a yellow light. In a big city, you’ll get honked at if you don’t speed up and go through it.
Light and Sound.
Small, low-population areas are very dark. Both in homes and on the road. My street back east literally has zero streetlights. I find it very difficult to see while driving at night, even with my glasses on. In my bedroom with the light off, I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. This gives the bonus of being able to see the stars more often, which I like, but I’ve always been afraid of the dark, so the city glow of home is very comforting to me.
Light “pollution” is such a negative term – I’ve always found it beautiful. Although I do sometimes miss seeing the stars with ease, I have always loved city lights. I adore throwing open my curtains and revelling in their radiance. It’s also nice to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to turn on a light. Rather than pollution, I like to call it illumination.
Just as they are dark, low-population areas are also very quiet. Living in a big city has really heightened my ability to sleep through noise. I used to wake up at every little sound, and now I can sleep through anything from drunken debauchery to emergency sirens and car alarms (but thankfully never my on-call ringer or my alarm clock). It’s very eerie to fall asleep in absolutely silence when I visit my hometown.
In a small town, you literally can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know. It’s necessary to factor into your excursion time the extreme likelihood of meeting someone or several someones and having a chat or three or four. It’s often hard for people with anxiety to deal with spontaneous social situations like this. Going back east is hard for me in that respect, especially because everyone hasn’t seen me in a while and wants to hear my life story. It’s a lot easier to just say hi and be on your way without feeling bad if you regularly encounter a person. There’s a lot of guilt involved in trying to avoid having a conversation with a person you like and haven’t talked to in a long time.
In a small town even when you don’t meet someone you know, people are always striking up a conversation with you anyway. The usual culprits are the cashier or another person waiting in line. Can’t I just buy my bananas in peace?!
It’s really nice knowing that in a big city I can do groceries and the only things I’ll have to say are “No thanks I have bags,” “Mastercard please,” and “Yes, thank you.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s a novelty to meet someone you know when you’re out running errands in a big city. It’s fun and I usually get a huge kick out of it. Especially if it’s someone I didn’t know moved out here, like old high school acquaintances – it’s happened three times as far as I can remember.
In a small town, pretty much everything requires a car. Want to go to a friend’s place? Car. Need groceries? Car. Going to work? Car. Going to school? Car (or bus). Need to go to the pharmacy, mall, or to get takeout? Car. Want to go to the gym, for a walk (YUP), or to the beach? Car. Want to catch some Pokémon or capture a gym or two? Car.
My husband and I have lived together in Vancouver for 6 years and we only just got a car a year ago. That’s not to say that there weren’t times it would have been convenient to have one. We definitely love doing our groceries and Costco runs with a car now. But it wasn’t necessary. We have hiking trails, beaches, gyms, banks, grocery stores, malls, schools, work, restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, art galleries, movie theatres, sports stadiums, Pokéstops and gyms, and more, all within easy walking, biking, or super-fast, cheap, and convenient transit distance. Everything is within reach.
This last one is a little trickier to define. People just seem to have a different outlook if you compare small town to big city. There are so many less options in smaller places. People have to settle all the time, and they’re just fine with that. Here in Vancouver I have everything I could ever want right at my fingertips – and often multiple options for the same thing.
A great example would be Starbucks. There are about 5 within 10 minutes’ walking distance of our apartment. Out east, there is one, and it’s about a 20-minute drive from our family homes. I looooooooooove Starbucks coffee, but when I visit KV, I don’t go there. Tim Horton’s is only ~5 minutes away in the car. Plus, the SJ Starbucks always gets our order wrong. Sometimes in multiple ways. A NF Vanilla Latte and an Iced Grande Coffee with Milk are really not difficult.
Ordering issues at coffee shops and fast food places really trigger my anxiety. That’s another reason we don’t go to Starbucks back east. In Vancouver, I’m able to choose the Starbucks that best suits my needs – a) most friendly baristas that b) always get the job done in c) an efficient and d) correct manner, and e) close by.
I often feel that in a small town, the mindset is Oh well, it’s my only choice. None of that out here. I don’t have to compromise my comfort, values, convenience, or money to get what I want in a big city. It enables me to avoid anxiety triggers, get better deals on things, have better experiences, and just be happier in general.
There is one issue with that perspective, though – I find that in a big city companies have so much competition that they REALLY try hard to sell you things, and to give you the very best all the time. Most of the time, this is great. In radio, however, it’s annoying. The amount of times I’ve texted my mom about this FANTASTIC “new” song she just HAS to listen to, only to have her reply that she’s been listening to it for months, are innumerable. Radio stations here tend to play the same top 20 songs over and over simply because they’re the most popular. They also won’t début a new song until they’re sure it’s a major hit. My favourite radio station in my hometown, 97.3 The Wave, is constantly introducing super new music and has really great variety. I often listen to it online from Vancouver.
I’m not trying to say that big cities are better than small towns. Each has their pros and cons, and different people like different things. I do, however, find it very interesting how environmental changes can seemingly change a person. As a child I LOVED my small town. As a teenager it was stifling and I couldn’t wait to get out. When I left, I found the transition to Vancouver very difficult, but loved the city so much I decided not to leave it as an adult. Now, I find it difficult to go back east.
Has living in a big city made my anxiety worse? Quite possibly. It is easier for me to avoid the things that trigger my anxiety. You’re also potentially more likely to have issues with your mental health if you live in a big city. I’m probably going to talk about that in a future post. But you could also say that being able to avoid triggers is a good thing, and I definitely feel more anxious when I visit my hometown than I do when I’m at home in the big city. That could be circumstantial, but at the very least it’s interesting.
I recently (two days ago) traveled across the country. I’m still recovering. Air travel is awful for my anxiety. I’m sure this isn’t universal for people with anxiety. However, I bet a lot of these ring true for people. It bothers me so much that I’m getting majorly panicky just writing this post.
Chronologically, here are 13 reasons why air travel sucks for people with anxiety:
The place you’re going has a million different possible kinds of weather, and you need to pack clothing for everything. And footwear. And protective gear (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, ski jacket, toque, etc.). And there’s inevitably a special event you’re going to while you’re there that requires a particular outfit. And you have to account for the gifts you’ll get while you’re there. Because if you get to the airport and your weight is over, you have to get rid of stuff, and that would cause a full-blown panic attack. You pack as many pieces of versatile clothing as possible, stuff your two carry-on bags as full as possible (and yes, each of them are as full and large as the dimensions and weight allotments allow), and weigh everything 3 times just to be sure. Oh, and you wear your heaviest clothing for the plane ride – two birds with one stone, am I right? No worrying about being cold, and you can take more stuff with you, because they aren’t going to weigh you.
Then there are the lists. You make three or four different packing lists and lose them all. Then you call two, maybe three different people and ask them to run through a list of all the things they think you might need to pack, to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. And you double- and triple-check your bags to make sure you have everything, and inevitably, STILL forget something (this time for me it was my Fitbit charger).
Getting to the airport.
For me, this involves pulling my very heavy suitcase and carry-on bags for about 15 minutes at top speed (if you know me, you’ll know this is a huff-and-puff-level speed walk) through downtown Vancouver to the Skytrain station, somehow managing to get my compass card out of my wallet without anyone stealing anything from me, tap it on the fare gate, get it back into my wallet, and huff down the stairs to the platform carrying all my bags (because there is no down escalator, and the elevator is so slow it would cause me to miss the next train and delay me by 7 minutes – those minutes are precious!!). I then proceed to sweat from the exertion of the walk and stairs pretty much all the way to the airport (24 minutes), at which point I start to shiver. Then I have to load up all my things again, somehow get my compass card out of my wallet again and tap out, somehow get it back into my wallet, and begin the trek down the tramway, escalator, and to the check-in area.
Because of all the possible things that could go wrong in this process, I spend a long time fretting over when I should leave my apartment. The train ride is 24 minutes, but I could just miss one when I get to the station, which could mean anywhere from a 6 to 13 minute wait, depending on the time of day. Foot traffic could also be bad downtown, depending on the season (in the summer there are sooooooo many pedestrians downtown) which adds to my travel time AND my anxiety (ever tried to dodge a group of tourists gawking at everything they see and walking SLOWLY five abreast on the sidewalk while carrying a 50 lb suitcase, 22 lb backpack, 22 lb secondary carry-on, purse and DSLR camera? PANIC!). There’s also the possibility of something going wrong with the Skytrain, and add to that the possibility of suitcase roller malfunction (it’s happened) and the fact that my elevator could suck (it sucks all the time) and easily add 5 minutes to my travel time, and I’m losing my mind with worry.
Airport arrival times.
This is technically an add-on to #2. Air Canada now suggests arriving anywhere from 60-90 minutes early for domestic flights. THIS IS NOT HELPFUL. If I get there with 60 minutes to go, is that enough?! SOMETIMES. But not always. Especially at YVR, the flightiest airport ever as far as busy-ness goes. It’s either busy as heck or you can hear crickets chirping in there. 90 minutes it is, sigh. In all likelihood, I’ll get there and hear crickets, but AT LEAST I WON’T BE LATE. All of these time considerations together have me leaving my apartment at least 2:30 before my domestic flight is scheduled to leave.
There are now five steps to check-in, each of which require talking to a person who assumes you know nothing. Talking to people I don’t know is hard enough, but when they’re trying to help me? UGH. I know they mean well and are just trying to do their jobs, but I would honestly just prefer to be left alone, you feel me? I know what I’m doing. This is also where the boarding pass saga begins. I try to always keep mine in the same place so this doesn’t happen, but I’m always losing it and CONSTANTLY worrying about remembering where it is and trying to get it out and into said spot quickly so as not to hold anyone up.
If you’re like me, you did this online exactly 24 hours before flight time, so as to have the best chance to get a seat that doesn’t suck. If you’re like me this time, you were getting a bride ready for her wedding 24 hours before flight time and couldn’t check in until the morning of and accordingly got the worst seat ever, which just added to the anxiety. More on that later. If you didn’t do it online, it’s an extra step at one of the self-check-in kiosky thingies. Here you frantically try to get your e-mail to return your booking reference number, because your printer died when you checked in at home (of course) and you couldn’t print your boarding passes to scan them, all the while hoping no one comes over to see if you need any help (No I’m fine thank you very much). When you finally find it by scrolling through your thousands of e-mails (when searches of “Air Canada,” “August 8,” and “Saint John” didn’t work – damn you Mail app..), you punch it in, …and get an error. Hello, check-in line, hello, longer check-in time, and hello, panic.
The bag tags.
If you’re fortunate enough not to get an error at the kiosk, you proceed to attaching your own bag tags. Beware, the edges are sharp. One time I got a serious paper cut and had to spend time running around the touristy shops trying to find a person that could give me a Band-Aid. Cue more panic. By now you’re probably thinking, gosh, this girl has seen it all. Well, I’ve seen a lot in my 20+ years of traveling back and forth across the country and the Atlantic, but it gets better!
Then you get to go to the split in the line up, where you have to talk to someone else. I usually try to walk straight through looking like I know exactly what I’m doing (which I do), and go straight to bag drop, so that I don’t have to interact with the person who checks to make sure you have your bag tag on properly before allowing you to go to bag drop, or forcing you to go back to the kiosk, or sending you on to the special check-in desk.
Vancouver (perhaps other places, also, now) has added another spot, I think to add to the speed of things, where they can take you from the middle of the line-up to drop your bag instead of waiting in line for bag drop. Generally, unexpected things popping up tend to make people with anxiety uncomfortable. So this time yet another Air Canada employee accosted me to get me to drop my bag. Why are you talking to me?! I was unprepared! He asked me if I was alone, and when I said yes, I got to skip the line. Yay. But I was unprepared for this added step, panic.
Bag drop desk.
If you’re not taken aside early, you talk to the person at the booth and they take your boarding pass, scan your bag, and send you on to bag drop. Normally I remember to keep my boarding pass out so I don’t have to search for it when I get to the front of the line, but if not, panic.
At bag drop, you have to weigh your bag. This is the part where I put it on the moving scale and watch the number carefully. I take note if it matches my scale at home for future reference, so I can compensate either way in the future if it doesn’t. And if it’s overweight, I prepare to full-on panic, because all the previous steps are null and void and I need to figure out what to do. Especially if I’m alone which I normally am, because I can’t offload any of my extra things. I think sometimes the people at the scale take pity on me if it’s over and just give me a stern warning. It makes my stomach churn, but at least I’m not having a panic attack.
The first scan.
Next you need your boarding pass again to give to the person at the start of the security line.
Then there’s a person who directs you to which lineup you need to stand in (in Vancouver, there are about 8). They also randomly select you for testing. I was selected this time for a hand and bag swab (this is before you even hit the x-ray conveyor belts). I’ve been randomly selected for this before, and tested positive for explosive residue (I know, right?!), so naturally, panic. Thankfully this time it’s fine, but I’ve had to open all my bags, and when the person is finished I’m rushing to pack up because they’re already telling me where to go and keep repeating themselves as I try to pack up as quickly as possible, as if them saying over and over which lane I should go into will make me move faster and not give me a panic attack.
Now that I’m actually in the security lineup, I have to try to think about how many buckets I need, because the people behind you in line inevitably want to get through as fast as possible and try to take buckets behind you before you’re even done loading yours. Panic. And then if you haven’t taken enough, you have to reach back across them and get more. Panic. And then the people ahead of me have gone too fast, and I’m still taking my laptop out of my bag and chugging my water because I forgot it was in there while the person is reaching for my boarding pass. Ma’am, boarding pass? Ma’am, boarding pass? PANIC. YES IT’S COMING. Then she frowns at me because the Montreal-Saint John pass is on top, and says, “Wrong pass.” Panic. I’m like, LADY IT’S BELOW THE ONE YOU’RE LOOKING AT JUST FIND IT YOURSELF I’M STILL TRYING TO GET MY BELT OFF. PANIC.
Then there’s the heart-stopping walk through the scanner gate. You beep, and get scanned with the beepy thingy or patted down. Or, you don’t beep and there’s the possibility that they’ll randomly select you for the full-body scanner anyway, which I’ve had happen multiple times. Oh, and there’s the possibility that they’ll think there’s something strange in your bag, and they’ll take EVERYTHING OUT and expect you to put it back there in 3.5 seconds while they push other people’s bags and buckets toward you. PANIC. Oh, and it was just for the pointy-looking tail of the porcelain salamander you bought on your honeymoon in Mexico. Good grief. When I bought it I didn’t imagine it as a weapon, but NOW I DO BECAUSE GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE.
When I’ve finally put my shoes, belt, sweater and jacket on (remember, heavy layers!) and I’ve sweat another bucket of water trying to get out of people’s ways as quickly as possible, I’m finally free to head to my gate.
Oh, I’m at the gate an hour early? Great. There’s no available seating? Great. At least my giant carry-on bags double as headrests. It’s going to take me the whole hour to stop sweating again, by which point I’ll once again be freezing cold.
(30 minutes pass) “It’s 30 minutes to boarding. Why aren’t we boarding yet? This is a big plane… Oh no, we’re going to be late. I’m going to miss my connection. It’s the last flight to SJ tonight. Oh god, I’m going to have to sleep on the floor in Montreal oh god oh god PANIC. I wonder if something is wrong with the plane. Air Canada never tells you if anything is wrong unless it’s too late oh god oh god. Wait…. Toronto?!?! I’m not going to TORONTO! They changed the gate!!! No announcement?!?!” ANGER. PANIC.
Once I’ve picked up my four bags and managed to make the trek all the way across the airport to the new, UNANNOUNCED gate, I find another spot on the floor (now there’s REALLY nowhere to sit, because I’m technically late now), and resume all the panic steps of #6, because they’re still not boarding the flight.
Now I need my boarding pass out AND my ID. And heaven forbid I forget my ID until I get to the front of the line, because it always gets stuck in the photo pocket of my wallet and takes ages to get out. Panic.
I also get super anxious in the line because now they have boarding zones. Naturally, I’m always in the last one. So I stand around waiting for them to call zone 4 or 5, holding all of my heavy bags, because putting them down isn’t an option – I’d then have to do the process of picking them back up when they call my zone and I’d end up last in line. I also have to worry more about something getting stolen when they’re sitting on the floor.
And the whole time I’m waiting in line I’m worrying about boarding, because I don’t want to have to climb over someone when I get on the plane. Because for some reason, window seats are in the zone AFTER aisles, RIDDLE ME THAT. Another forced interaction with a person I’m inconveniencing by making them stand up. Or, on one occasion, a person who is literally going to not move at all and force me to CLIMB OVER THEM to get to my seat. There’s a reason I often get aisle seats now, especially on long flights. I hate making people move for me, and I inevitably have to get up to pee at least once on the 5-hour flight to Montreal, so, alas, I take the less-comfortable aisle seat so I don’t have to ask someone to let me go to the bathroom. It’s even worse if they’re sleeping. I can’t wake up a sleeping person! That’s terrifying!
First of all, takeoff is horribly alarming. That drop when the plane levels off is next-level anxiety inducing. Turbulence is even worse. If you’ve seen Donnie Darko, the airplane crash scene is what I picture literally every time there’s turbulence. If you haven’t seen it, picture being in the middle of a terrifying plane crash, dark, thunderous clouds and all.
Bathroom – aisle seat.
If I’m lucky enough to be sitting in an aisle on the long flight, I can pee whenever I want. However, I have to be aware that the person beside me is probably also going to want to pee, so I shouldn’t sleep for too long if I don’t want to force them to have to wake me up to go.
Bathroom – no aisle seat.
If I’m not in an aisle, like this last time (I was in the middle on a 2-4-2, just the worst), I have to hold it for as long as possible. I try to wait for an opportune moment to ask to go. The best time is when the person beside you goes to the bathroom, because you can just get up and go with them. The person sitting beside me this time had a baby, probably max 3 months. She was hoping he would sleep as much as possible. So, once I needed to use the washroom, I had to wait until a time when he was awake. I couldn’t possibly ask to go when he was sleeping and risk having him wake up when his mom stood up to let me out. Just. The. Worst.
Getting off the plane.
If the plane is on time, thank the lord. If not, the already anxiety-inducing de-planing is made even more stressful by the fact that you’re watching the seconds tick by on your watch. Each one that passes adds to the chances that they’re going to shut the door to your connection in your face, literally. (Again, it’s happened. The woman who did it to me was smiling.)
In general, as soon as the seatbelt sign is off, EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE PLANE is standing, ready to de-plane. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? I’m still putting my shoes on. The g-force of the descent prevents this from being comfortable while moving. Then I’ve got to shuffle through every part of my seat pocket and underneath the seat in front of me five thousand times before I’m sure I didn’t forget anything. Then I can stand up.
The regular etiquette of de-planing is one row at a time, which people inevitably try to get around. This makes me both angry and anxious. Then, when it’s my turn I have to worry about holding people up while I pull down my extra carry-on and camera from the overhead bin and try not to hit anyone with it.
Next I find the gate screen as quickly as possible and huff-and-puff to my next gate. Repeat steps 6-10.
When I’m finally off the plane, I have the heart-stopping wait at the baggage collection area. Usually my bag is the very last off (thanks to being so early to the airport – first on, last off). I wait and wait as everyone collects their things. Nothing. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been left without bags. There’s a reason my handbag looks like an apothecary. My suitcase has been lost so many times that if it’s important, like prescription medication, it’s in my carry-on. No, security person who can x-ray into my purse, I’m not a drug-dealer, just prepared, don’t give me that look.
Then I’m off to the counter to explain that my suitcase is black and big just like everyone else’s, and left to worry until it arrives.
Usually the next day at the crack of dawn, while I’m bleary-eyed and still wearing my bathrobe, I have to run down the stairs to greet the taxi driver. Panic.
Get home. Have a hot drink. Revel in the fact that I didn’t die of anxiety for the 31-millionth time.
I have to do this again in just over a week? God help me.