I like going new places, in theory. Traveling is exciting – you get to meet new people, see new places, eat different food. In theory, traveling is awesome.
Except that real life isn’t Disney, and even though I really DO like going new places, somehow, something always backfires.
For instance, this spring I went on vacation to Costa Rica with my aunt and uncle. It was amazing, although most of the trip is a story for another time (there are so many monkeys there. So many.) But this story isn’t about the monkeys.
Since I decided to come last minute, I had to fly separately into San Jose and meet them at the baggage claim. No big deal. I am an adult and perfectly capable of flying internationally alone.
Airports make me really insecure though. I immediately start sweating as soon as I get my boarding pass. “Did I remember my passport?” “What if I lose my boarding pass?” “What if I accidentally brought scissors?” “What if I accidentally brought peanut butter?” “What if I have to pee while I’m waiting to go through security?” And on, and on and on.
The addition of having to go through customs also serves to further unnerve me. “What if I have a communicable disease and I don’t know it and they put me in quarantine?” “What if I accidentally have drugs in my checked bag? I’ve never touched drugs in my life but what if they’re magically somehow there and then I go to jail forever?” Obviously, the more I worry, the more my ability to think reasonably diminishes. I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of inverse exponential relationship. (Or negative exponential. I don’t really know, I forget math now.)
Anyway, happily, on this trip, despite all my anxious catastrophizing I made it safely through all my security checks, caught my connecting flight without hassle and plunked myself down between my two row neighbors for the flight to San Jose. Fortunately neither of them wanted to talk, and we filled out our customs forms in silence.
Which brought on a whole other round of worry scenarios. “All of these questions are in Spanish” “What if I write the wrong answer?” “What if I accidentally brought fruit with me?” “Oh no I forgot the name of the place where we’re staying” “WHY DID EVERYONE TRUST ME TO GET MYSELF TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY ALONE???”
But then the captain turned on the loudspeaker. And I realized that there was one thing I’d completely neglected to freak out about. Two things, actually. The first thing was “Good afternoon everyone, it looks like we’re about to hit some turbulence as we start the landing process, please fasten your seatbelts.”
Lol. I love turbulence.
The second thing was that, as we began bouncing around and seesawing from side to side and generally jolting, I began to feel quite ill. Very, very ill. There are few things worse than realizing that you are going to puke for the first time in 12 years on airplane while touching shoulders with two complete strangers. Especially when you don’t even know where they keep the barf bags. (They’re in the seat pocket, but you might have to dig a bit).
After spending a few horror-stricken seconds thinking I might have to barf into the seat back itself and just pretend nothing happened, I found the bag and hurled into it. I’d only eaten Twizzlers in the past few hours so what came up was, um, red.
Nothing in the safety packet tells you what to do with a bag of barf on an airplane. So after we landed I left it sealed on my seat. Sorry, flight attendants.
As we walked to customs, one of my row neighbors turned to me and said “Hey…um, would you like a mint?”
And that’s how I got to Costa Rica.