I’m traveling again. Back on planes, pilfering free internet from sidewalk coffee shops, and cutting the top off my travel face moisturizer to eek out the last of the goodness. After eighteen nights in my own bed it’s time to leave and check out the mattresses of the eastern seaboard. It’s time to put on my game face, the one that gets me through security with nail clippers and belay knifes and does not flinch when Katherine, the gate attendant who cannot pronounce Baltimore, tells us it will be yet another forty minutes before our plane arrives.
I live in a bubble. Boulder, Colorado, where everything is so perfect it’s imperfect. Most people agree with me on major political points. Everyone recycles. Volkswagen van drivers recognize other Volkswagen van drivers with a two-fingered wave. I had not left the bubble for the past three weeks and when I did last Friday I realized what I had been missing. Normal people. The pride in that normalcy.
I’m flying over the flooded Mississippi looking at lakes that used to be towns. I’m watching a graphic episode of Sex and the City on my computer while the woman next to me reads the Bible with an accompanying pamphlet, complete with exercises, entitled “Letting the scripture explain your life.” The kid on my other side has a head that is pulsating in time to the beat of the music seeping out of his oversized headphones. I don’t get this at home.
On my next flight I elbow-joust with an elderly gentleman for an armrest until I finally turn to him, make eye contact, and offer to rotate the perch on a twenty-minute basis. He agrees.
I have not spent more than twenty-five days in a row in my own bed since I left the bed I shared with my ex-husband three years ago. Maybe it’s time to admit that I am on the go. Maybe its time to admit that this life—this one of random seatmates and conversations and observations of the other, is what I am really after. Because if I look at my calendar for the next twelve months I cannot find a twenty-five day stretch anywhere. Maybe it’s time to settle in, get on a plane, and pull out my favorite seatback glossy. I did that today and flipped right to The Million-Germ Eliminating Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer. I earmarked it. Then I wrote this note. And then I went back and un-creased the page. What if there are two million germs? I want the toothbrush that will take care of that. I might need it where I am going.