“I heard that Christmas in Germany is lovely,” one of us murmured, his or her mouth pursed, as though brimming full of caviar and Zinfindel and self-satisfaction. “The Germans just know how to truly celebrate. I think we should all holiday in Europe next winter.”
Let’s weekend in Burma, shall we? I hear the spring there is divine.
What a horrendous, decadent assemblage of words. What a cock-eyed, over-privileged, obscene collection of phonemes, ordered in such a way that their construction seems pornographic and vile. I cringed internally, even as I think I probably said it.
That we could even fathom to use the word “holiday” as a verb seems to galling and horrific that our tongues should probably be taken into custody by government officials. That all of my articulators, my teeth and my cheeks and my vocal chords, should excise themselves from my body and escape to Tijuana. People didn’t say things like that, nor did they squint and primp just so. We barely qualified as humans anymore; no, we were douchebags, anthropomorphic pond scum from another planet far away.
Reorienting myself to view travel so cavalierly has taken time and effort. As a child I watched documentaries about people jet-setting around the world, I sat through countless seasons of the Amazing Race. I envisioned the kind of people who took wing and journeyed through the skies: they always wore scarves. They purchased insanely expensive bottles of cognac, used the contents as mouthwash, and spat the leavings on the people who flew coach. They slept on beds made of chilled Alaskan salmon and cashmere puppies, soft and rhythmic and alive. The people I thought of were not so much people as they were personified luxury, walking and talking chequebooks with no personalities and a constant, burning desire to wear berets and eat large baguettes.
Friends, I have arrived in continental Asia, and am resting comfortably inside a temporary apartment in the ass-end of Suzhou. The sky is an actual blue, I did not perish in a terrible fiery plane crash, and my VPN is humming along beautifully, so all is well.
But no one really likes hearing about the times when all was well.
In the intermission between periods of all being well was a 14 hour direct flight from Toronto to Shanghai, a slog of air travel surmounting my previous records of sustained mid-air sitting. In actual fact, sitting still for 14 consecutive hours isn’t the most impressive thing I’ve ever done, but it is certainly something that maybe drove me halfway insane, and thus something to write about. Join me then, won’t you, as we journey through the skies to the magical land of China, and while I stall until I can edit some of the last remaining content I have from India.
Don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall
-2:30 I arrive at the airport with my life compressed into approximately 112 pounds. My parents offer to carry a bag, but I feel duty-bound to complete this drag alone. I have backpacks on both sides of my torso, and if I were to fall down, it is unlikely I would ever rise again. I am the backpack turtle.
-2:03 My employers rushed and managed to secure my ticket just yesterday, and I suddenly fret over what seat I will be trapped within for the next foreseeable chapter of my life. “I think it’s an aisle seat,” the check-in monster lies cautiously. I think she knows that if she told me the truth I may simply rip open my jugular and allow my weeping corpse to be carried off by the luggage conveyor belt.
All aboard the insomnia-express!
I can’t sleep on planes. This statement goes without exception but for one time when I was about 7 and on a Red-Eye back from Florida with my parents, and at the time I was still staunchly pulling a “But I’m not tired! Someone proffer me an extra seat cushion! Raise my buttocks higher that I might see the in-flight movie, as ne’er my eyes will flutter into slumber!” For years this wasn’t an issue, because I didn’t fly anywhere. Then I started to like travel. Then I moved to another continent. Then I realized: being awake for 20+ uninterrupted hours, when many of those hours involve being crammed into an ill-shaped seat in a giant claustrophobic magic tube thousands of feet in the air really, really sucks.