I’m writing this from 30,000 feet above the US. I’m somewhere between 6 and 8 hours into my long day of travel from Baltimore to Los Angeles for a weekend of press coverage of the soon-to-theaters movie Mirror Mirror. Honestly, i have no idea if the time on my iPad is DC time, Minneapolis time, or somewhere in between.
I’ve been looking forward to this trip for the movie, for the time spent with blogging friends who are scattered around the US, and for the chance to sleep in a dark, quiet hotel room and enjoy the luxuries of these new business trips. I love my job.
Yesterday did not go down as I had hoped or anticipated. Instead of getting caught up on my laundry (it’s bad to be approaching a trip out of town when all of your clothes are either dirty or stuffed in a basket waiting to be folded), I spent the day tired and working. Each night this week – it seems like its been like this for more an a week – has been filled to the brim with activities, meetings, movies. It has all been good. Just busy.
So I found myself coming home last night after 10:00 pm with nothing packed, no laundry done, a still-full list of things to do. In the end I got 3 hours of sleep before I was awake and driving to the airport. I’m amazed that I had enough energy to get to the airport not only in one piece, but on time and with a boarding pass already printed out.
I passed through security without issue and headed to my gate, which was conveniently located right next to a McDonalds. I knew I’d need to eat something to avoid being sick the whole day so I stood in line and waited, 10+ minutes, for an apple cinnamon oatmeal.
So much was wrong with my breakfast. Thinking, foolishly, that the apples would be cooked, I was disappointed to learn that the apples were “fresh.” I’m allergic to apples unless they’ve been cooked. But the apples were easy enough to eat around. I couldn’t, however, get over the fact that the oatmeal was watery and lukewarm. I blame my fatigue and lack of desire of carrying my carry-on suitcase over to the line on the fact that I didn’t ask for a new one. Ahh well.
Flight number one was pleasant enough except for the fact that I had downed a medium diet Coke along with the soggy oatmeal and had to pee. Diet Coke has a way of going right through me. Too timid to wake the lady who sat in the middle seat (and increasingly jealous of her ability to relax for the entire hours-long flight), I sat in discomfort until we landed.
My layover in Minneapolis was not terrible, except for the fact that as soon as I landed and turned on my phone, I got a distressed call from my oldest daughter, KitKat, saying that Dad had still not picked her up and had not answered her calls for over an hour. I knew that he must be asleep, having worked another all-nighter. I tried calling both of his phones over and over, even resorting to calling our next door neighbor to go knock on the door and try to wake him up (she wasn’t home).
My second leg has been pleasant (again, pleasant enough…) except for the fact that the hours of travel has caught up to me and no matter what I do, I will feel slightly sick for the rest of the day. And somehow the ziplock baggie with ibuprofen and Tylenol did not make it in my purse.
And I’m not even on the ground yet.
I was sitting here in my window seat thinking about travel. I always look forward to it and love my trips once I’ve reached my destination….but the journey is often hell on my body. At this leg of my travel, I always wonder why in the world I thought that this was a good idea. I’m tired, miserable, achy, have to pee, realize there are things happening at home that I don’t have any control over (and so I just stress), and I’ve started feeling icky, sticky, grumpy, and gross.
And still I do it again and again because I just love what lies on the other side of this day of driving and flying and walking heavy bags around.
As I had that thought I realized how parallel this experience was with child birth. And before you laugh and say they are nothing alike and I must not know what I’m talking about, let me remind you that I gave birth to 5 children vaginally. All with pitocin. Only one with an epidural.
How often, I thought, do pregnant women ask the question as their journey is about to end, “Why in the world did I think this was a good idea?” We spend months feeling sticky, icky, grumpy, gross, tired, achy, having to pee all the time, and altogether miserable? (Yes, even I admit that there were so many parts of pregnancy that I loved, in the same sense that I swear that I love flying because it allows me several uninterrupted hours of reading.)
And how often do those same women who have felt miserable for months decide a few years later to go through it all again?
We do it because the end result is worth it. We spend 9 months feeling bloated and stretched beyond capacity, moody and emotional, and then we go through excruciating pain to deliver our little ones into this world. That moment of pure bliss when the doctor places a new baby in a mother’s arms is worth almost any price. It is a feeling so good that it erases months of discomfort and hours of terrible pain.
No, cross-country airplane travel is not as bad as child birth. Not even close. But I realized with a sigh that no matter how terrible I may feel right now, when my next opportunity to travel comes (and there is already a trip planned for next month) I will welcome it with excitement and open arms.
Now, if I were to take a pregnancy test next month and discover that baby #6 is unexpectedly on its way….I think I might freak out just a little. I’m not quite ready to tackle that experience again.
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