It seems for the past few years that whenever a flight has taken off with me on it, I’ve been on it alone. No travel buddies, no one there to hold my hand as I teeter out of my heels for security, no one to say “it’s in your inside-outside pocket” when I get that look in my eyes that means I can’t find my passport, like, anywhere.
I’m the one who has to order ginger-ale because I’m too embarrassed to be the 25 year old asking the flight attendant for tomato juice without the moral support of someone beside me (though, I’ve found if you order it with vodka you don’t get the same weird looks…)
It’s been like this since I left for Guatemala in 2010. Once you survive a flight into Guatemala city and a chicken bus ride into the slums as a solo, 110 pound, Caucasian female you tend to get over the kind of anxiety that grips at you as you’re about to take off to JFK. It’s the world, not a Margaret Atwood novel.
So when I woke up on Saturday morning with my stomach in knots, feeling weak in the knees, about to head to Toronto I naturally thought I had come down with an poorly timed flu. Yet as the plane took off and we climbed to 38,000 feet over the rockies the feeling in my stomach subsided.
Over the course of the weekend G. and I drank enough micro-brews and margaritas in order to out-do anyone of their stomach ailments and I forgot completely about it. Until I woke up on Monday morning, and while dressing myself for my interview, felt it creep back. This fist clenching my stomach which now seemed to have grown serious talons that were digging slowly into my sides.
It’s just nerves I told myself as G. so lovingly assured me that I was just “being neurotic.” Sure enough, as I walked in to shake hands with the recruiter and give him my best toothy smile I forgot all about it. G. met me afterwards for a hug and 6 strong drinks and again, I completely forgot about my mysterious flu.
Until Tuesday night, when, after an incredible steak dinner in a cheap dress that always gets compliments, it returned. I’ll sleep it off I said. But I never did. I woke up Wednesday morning with the fist of the incredible hulk attached to my gut and I can honestly say I haven’t been that miserable since the night before I left for Guatemala alone and attempted to convince my mother I had appendicitis so that I didn’t have to go.
And that scenario, playing in my head somewhere over Lake Superior, allowed me to recognize the feeling in my stomach: anxiety. The filthy bitch! I did the math: nausea + shortness of breath + stabbing pains from head to toe + the unexplainable desire to cry + the positivity that I’m dying. It equaled out. I’m no stranger to anxiety. It’s why I’ve been living life the way that I have for the past 3 years … because not knowing and this whole foot loose and fancy free thing doesn’t make me anxious. Not having to make plans while considering other people makes me calm. It’s selfish, and it’s awesome. It’s as if not having any constants has enabled me to experience life without the fear that I am constantly in danger of losing my constants. Or something like that.
So I tried to add things up. G. and I had an incredible trip. It was short and sweet, our hotel room had a view to die for, we did nothing but walk around the city people watching, laughing our asses off, eating great food and drinking a few [hundred] too many cheap [and not so cheap] cocktails. I met some incredible people at the interview that I had and felt great about it (though only time will tell about that).
I had moral support. I had a partner in crime. I had an adventure sidekick. What I was anxious about was beyond me. And because we weren’t flying over Texas, I came to no conclusions on the flight. We got home late and fell asleep immediately.
I spent today alone, mostly. Classes and essays and work have me back to my regular schedule. I’ve been doing glamorous things like laundry and unpacking cosmetics and dancing around to Jake Owen in bikinis that don’t really fit quite how they do in the picture, but that I think look pretty good none-the-less. Of course, spending the day alone after five days with G. was exactly what I needed in order to figure out what I was anxious about.
Turns out, after spending three years making mistakes and off-the-cuff decisions on your own, it’s nerve-wracking introducing someone else into the mix. Who’d have thought having a hand to hold up at 40,000 feet would be cause for panic, but I guess that should come as no surprise to me. Have you ever tried introducing a constant into foot loose and fancy free? They aren’t exactly two peas in a pod. I realized this when I texted G. from my interview saying “They want me to consider South Carolina. How do you feel about South Carolina?” and he responded “Florida was the plan.” Just like that. “Florida was the plan.”
Uh, what? I had a plan?
He’s not really a willy-nilly type and me, being the one who can never decide, well I am very willy and then completely nilly and then most likely back again.
Like when we went to catch the subway back to the airport and I decided to trust my iPhone directions instead of his feeling that we should go back the way we successfully came and I took us 30 minutes in the wrong direction to a bus that wasn’t part of the city transit system that would plant us at the airport just in time to miss our flight and finally (thanks to my New York training) had to hail a ghetto taxi that cost us $50 which was approximately $30 more expensive than the shuttle we turned down at the hotel because “I had it under control.“ See? Willy-Nilly.
But the thing about Anchors and Freedom is the fact that Anchors has and always will come first. While I’ve never been one to make love a priority (as all of my ex boyfriends except for maybe one can attest to (sorry guys)) I’m starting to think that it’s probably not a bad thing for it to be up there. And maybe knocking some sense into my willy-nilly isn’t a bad thing, either. At least where taking the subway in an unfamiliar city is concerned.
“Babe, if you were going to be in South Carolina, I’d forget about Florida.” *
Barf, right? But just like that my stomach feels better. Funny how that works. Maybe it was the flu.
(* All of G.’s quotes are slightly re-formulated for my writing pleasure. He’s actually quite manly and does things however he pleases – though he plans them first. He accepted my use of our private conversations on the internet in a verbal contract that he never actually signed by saying he wanted to be my boyfriend. Sucks to be him.)
xo & yw