Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Travel Shit and Other Transient Thoughts

I am not known as a relaxed flier. (This little tidbit of information surprises you?) I am able to muster up a tremendous amount of anxiety when I spy that tin can with wings approach the gate. I find myself fully ensconced in the camp that wonders about the logic of thousands of tons of metal and gasoline lifting 40,00 feet off of terra firma. I also suffer from an extreme case of motion sickness that morphs into vertigo at first puke. The anxiety that I experience in flight, only serves to exacerbate the barfing. It has always been this way.

I have been a projectile vomitter for as long as I can remember. Many a family car trip was interrupted by pit stops at filthy restrooms, so that my extraordinarily patient mother could wipe emesis from my clothes. One would think that age and experience would cure my issues, but no. If I ride in the back seat of a car, I require a window cracked open a hair to allow for airflow. I cannot read, play word games or move from side to side while a vehicle is in motion, else the heaving starts. Boats on the water? Forget it. I have been seasick in some of the most beautiful places in the world. I was nauseated on ferryboats to Sausalito and Prince Edward Island. I puked off the back of a launch in Ochos Rios Jamaica. I was leveled by a hydrofoil in Capri, (I puked into a baseball cap for 45 minutes!) and I hung my head out of a covered launch in Santorini Greece. I have left little parts of my meals in locales the world over. And, planes are the worst. The stench of jet fuel mingling with body odours and weird foods is almost more than I can bear. Combine that with slight fear, and there exists a recipe for disaster. (One of the first times that I flew all alone, with nobody to cover me, I was pregnant with Older Son. The husband was on a business trip and I decided to head to Florida to spend 10 days with my parents. I was about 4 months along and the flight was incredibly rough. I couldn't reach for the bag fast enough and thus, I threw up all over my seatmate. He was an incredibly lovely man who told me not to worry. His wife was also pregnant and he was quite used to a woman vomiting on him! My embarrassment knew no bounds!) I now take a very strong anti-nausea that at least keeps my stomach contents where they belong, if not fully curing the illness, but the pills make me incredibly groggy and I am often passed out cold before the plane is in the air. This state of being is not usually an issue when I am traveling with somebody, but when I am alone, as I am today, it takes all the energy that I can muster just to stay conscious.

Flying has become a chore rather than an excited enticement for travel. Airlines have found ways to suck every taste of joyousness from the experience. The constant leveling of surcharges has forced travelers to stuff their personals in cases so small that it is a wonder that people ever change their clothes while on vacation. Flying with anything in liquid form is strictly prohibited, so most people are left with the options of purchasing their shampoo and toothpaste on arrival, or living the organic life of a 60's commune dweller. Every bit of baggage is scanned and scrutinized and shoes have become lethal weapons. It is not like any of these restrictions are new, but every single time that I line up for security, there is always one dipshit who thinks that they are special. Today it was the asshole who decided that her shampoo and liquid foundation wasn't liquid enough to qualify for the 1 litre Ziploc and held up the entire line while she systematically tossed the entire case into the trash. Then there are the fun people who have made it their life's ambition to entertain us all at the Customs and Immigration booths. The lines today at Terminal 3 were extensive. The wait was at least a half an hour to enter the 7th circle of hell known as the interrogation by US Customs. There are normally 20 or so booths available, but the joke for today was that there were only 5 open. As I finally made it to the front of the line, the booth that I was waiting for, inexplicably closed. I was shunted to an adjoining booth where I met Chahima, the most colourless and most humourless woman on the face of the earth. Chahima is obviously of Semitic descent, and I think that she felt it was her duty to oppress all of us in much the same manner that she herself has probably been unfairly racially targeted. By the time that Chahima and I met, my medication was kicking in big time. My tongue felt like it was coated with a layer of velour and I am not altogether certain of what I said to her. I might of accidentally admitted to a third world revolt. After a thorough grilling as to my profession and how I could afford to take the time off, (she also inquired as to the husband's line of work-as if women can't afford to do these kinds of things without the support of a man!) she grudgingly allowed me to pass. 

Breakfast was not an option. Why does every food item in airport cafes have cheese as its major ingredient? I had to fight for a plain toasted bagel and OJ. The terminal was spinning at this point and sleep would hit me soon, whether I was ready for it or not, but at least I knew that my nausea would be contained. 

I finally settle into my seat on the plane and am readying my ipod into position, when my seat mates join me. I was seated next to a shi tzu. Not a woman who looked like a dog, an actual dog! Tiger Lily. Who in their right mind names a dog Tiger Lily?  That is such a cat name. No self respecting canine could answer to such a name in the dog park. All of the other dogs would laugh and beat her up. But here I was, seated next to Tiger Lily and her very nice people-both large in stature-so that I was pressed right up against the window. Poor Tiger Lily. She was not a happy flier. They fed her doggie Valium, but her anxiety was so acute that it wasn't working. She was only happy when she was seated in Mrs. Tiger Lily's lap, and luckily for them, I didn't mind a bit. Better than the screaming twins that were seated three rows behind. Mr and Mrs Tiger Lily kept apologizing to me for their little girl's behaviour. They offered to buy me a glass of wine, but with my meds, I might still be on that plane. I offered to give Tiger Lily a taste of my pharmaceuticals, but we all thought the better of it. Three hours and a long nap later, I arrived at my destination. Stomach contents still in place and free from doggie breath, I am still heavily sedated, but I am where I want to be-in the land of the warmth and water. My guess is that Tiger Lily will be sleeping it off as well.

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