I get a high off of traveling.
Growing up, my mom was a flight attendant. I spent plenty of days with absolutely no memory of my age but a distinct image of my mom and I riding across the airport trolley, unloading at the terminal, her punching in her employee code at the doors that were hidden in plain sight, and waiting in the lounge on a saggy couch, watching Andy Griffith while she collected her bid sheets. Everything was always so colorful. The bright blues of the walls and carpets, the reflective steel of the doors, the glass mosaic wall that reflected all the fluorescent restaurant lights. The planes were taking off and landing all around me.
Because of my mom’s employment, I also spent a lot of my childhood flying for free. We would take frequent trips to California to visit my mom’s best friend, and I remember being swallowed in the seats, wide eyed with wonder as I watched the wings slowly start to angle upward in take off. Sometimes the plane would be nearly empty and my brother and I would hop from seat to seat, playing a sort of alternative version of tag. The planes always felt so big at that age.
As soon as I started making money, I started spending money on airline tickets. 2016 was a record year, in which I travelled almost monthly. A majority of this was accrued from my best friend’s wedding and pre-wedding functions in Florida, and I was lost in love with a boy in Missouri. I alternated between the Sunshine State and the Show Me State about every other month, although I frequented Colorado and spent sometime in Portland and Memphis as well.
I get a rush as soon as I’m in the airport. It’s an anticipation that builds as I cross the familiar walk ways, through security, and to my gate. I know all the motions; ID and ticket out, shoes off and toiletries separate, coffee options here and there; I love the familiarity of it all. In a weird sort of way, the airport and its chaotic buzz has always felt like a second home to me.
Sometimes I ride in silence, and sometimes I make friends with the people in my row. One time, I met a USPS employee who gave me life advice for the entire flight. It was good advice. I took notes. One time, I met a man who looked like Vin Diesel who called me Jodi Foster the whole time. One time, I met a vagabond pot lover named Cameron who discussed with me his plans for a start up venture. Cameron, I sincerely hope you followed your dreams.
Traveling is a ritual; it’s a systemized series of consistent tasks with inconsistent results. You follow the same step by step guide to get to where you are going but you always wind up somewhere new, even if you’ve already visited that location. At least that’s how it feels to me. Every time I step foot into the arrival terminal, I take in a deep breath of the potential for adventure that awaits me, and I feel like I’m at home. No matter how many times I have been there before, I am older, I am different, and I am ready for whatever experience awaits. It’s amazing something so familiar is always so unique.
I have never understood people who don’t enjoy traveling. If I didn’t get to travel, I wouldn’t feel alive.