What with COVID and all of its fallout — me losing work, conventions essentially going away altogether (No-one cares about virtual conventions, let’s be completely honest) — I have entirely lost the ability to travel well in the past year or so. Whatever skill I had at letting the entire process wash over me and surrender to it has, based on recent experience, curdled into a touchiness that meant every small complication felt like a pretty substantial body blow.
In my defense, the small complications from this week’s cross-country excursion weren’t really that small — a delayed flight ended up derailing the planned connection, meaning that we had to leave a day later than intended, with the delayed trip becoming delayed further thanks to airline screw-ups and what simply looked as if no-one has worked out how to keep everything going in this era of sickness and stress. (Seriously, why would you re-assign seating twice with less than an hour to go before the flight leaves? Ahem.)
Nonetheless, I share this not to complain about how inept American Airlines is at the basics of being an airline. (Very.) Instead, I’m writing it because, two days after arriving home, I feel as if I’m still in transit, somehow. I’m not sure quite what’s happened.
There’s a feeling I get when I’m traveling for a reasonable amount of time — anything over, say, six hours — where I just feel as if I’m constantly in motion. My focus vanishes, almost, and you’ll get perhaps 30 minutes of good attention out of me before I have to drift for a little bit. Depending on how long I’m in the air, I lose my appetite, and I start to feel low-level dizzy — not so much that it’s a problem, but enough that I find myself wanting to remain in my seat as much as possible.
I still feel like that today, despite landing in PDX Wednesday evening. For all of yesterday, I told myself that it was the mental hangover of traveling for 15 hours the day before, and perhaps that is still the case — or perhaps it’s the wildfire smoke that makes the air feel simultaneously thicker and thinner than usual outside right now. Maybe I simply just need a good night’s sleep, which has escaped me for days now, thanks to the heat on both coasts.
All I know for sure is that I’ve rarely been more grateful that it’s almost the weekend, and that I have an opportunity to reset my focus. I need it, I think. (Or, at least, I think I think… It’s hard to tell, right now.)