In recent years I’ve traveled to visit my daughter pretty regularly…by plane. Hence I’m eternally grateful to Leonardo da Vinci for thinking man could mimic the bird, and fly. And I appreciate that the Wright brothers advanced the cause by crafting the first flying machine that actually flew. But apart from allowing me to be here in the morning, and with my daughter that same evening, spending 5 hours or more compressed into an uncomfortable seat pains me no end, especially where my sacrum and ilium meet.
While I could walk the length of the plane to stretch my legs, it’s not without its minuses. Squeezing past another passenger walking in the opposite direction is doable, but awkward. Getting past the flight attendant while she’s offering snacks out of a box is a game of “wait-and-see.” Waiting to see who moves first, her or me. And then there’s the inevitable warning from the pilot to sit down and fasten my seat belt. That means “Hie me back to my seat pronto; strap myself in toot suit; and stay put until I’m told otherwise…or else.”
I can deal pretty well with a 2 or 3 hour flight. Four hours makes me antsy; at 5, I’m maxed out. An 8 hour trip to Europe has me looking at the nearest exit, wondering “Excuse me. Can I possibly get off and walk the rest of the way? I’ve changed my mind.”
As I’ve gotten older, adhering to the same ritual, more or less, has helped pass the time on a plane. After settling into my seat, I glance through the shopping guide provided all passengers. There’s always some gadget that compels me to think it’s something I might need. So I squirrel away the magazine in my carry-on. Then I might read a few pages from a book I brought, while munching on a snack purchased before leaving. All told, I probably used up 30 minutes of the several hours I must stay put. So I sleep, or try to sleep. When all else fails, I will myself to sleep.
I never, well almost never, look at my watch. Doing so, I feel, will only make the time pass ever more slowly. I prefer to be surprised when the pilot finally announces that our destination is a mere 30 minutes away. Yippee!!! Let me out of here! I’ve got to go to the bathroom…now!
That’s the final downer about traveling on a plane. Trying to get to the bathroom. The anxiety begins with trying to get the aisle seat, not the middle seat, not the window seat. If my husband is with me, I let him have the aisle seat, and I occupy the middle seat. He’s more comfortable, and I can inconvenience him when I get the urge. No longer wanting to bother a stranger to make a trip to the restroom, our family opts to fly Southwest Airlines whenever possible. I always get to choose an aisle seat, or a middle seat with my husband sitting on the aisle.
When we were younger, and more inclined to do long road trips, my husband would determine “pit stops” according to how many miles we’d driven, and how much longer it was to our destination. In older age, he’s been more conciliatory, taking the cue from me…“I gotta go…now!”
As far as trains go, I spent enough years traveling on the Long Island Railroad, to and from Penn Station on NYC’s west side, and then on the New Haven Line from Connecticut to Grand Central Station on NYC’s east side, to know that unless it’s the Orient Express, train travel is…okay. Of course I’ve not been on many scenic, cross-country carriers to decide if I’d make it a habit. Maybe when hubby retires, we can do a leisurely trip.
…only trouble is…the toilet “shakes, rattles and rolls”…on a train…hugmamma.