I travel probably at least as much as the average person, though probably not more in total miles, as most of my travelage is weekend trips via automobile to various SCA events. But every once in a while I get to Travel–that is, turn my fate over to total strangers who may or may not have my safety as one of their priorities. That’s not the part that bothers me. No, what bothers me is getting to the place where I turn my life over into their hands.
Going to NOLA for GayRomLit was more fun for me because I traveled by train, which was simply a matter of calling a cab to drop me off at the local Amtrak station, a trip of about twenty minutes (well, thirty-five, because for some reason the cabbies in the suburb tend to take on more than one passenger at a time, so we had a couple of stops in between. Fortunately, for reasons I shall explain later, I allowed myself extra time. If I had been driving, it would have been twenty minutes or less) and walking into the station hauling my hellaciously heavy suitcase. I did not have to stand in line in my stockinged feet while my back took up its throbbing refrain and my arches sank slowing into the west. I did not have to empty out my carryon bags into insufficiently large dishtubs, displaying my collection of shampoo and moisturizer to the wide world. I didn’t have to stand in front of an x-ray machine and wonder if my fat rolls would hide my naughty bits from the leering TSA agent. Nope, I walked into the elderly adobe train station, sat down on an equally elderly wood bench, and chatted with the station agent through her plexiglass window, which she’d decorated with hand-lettered announcements and pictures of her grandchildren. It was nice.
I didn’t go through the usual panicked hysteria pre-trip with that one; I could focus on organizing swag (not enough and too much) and making sure I had enough to entertain myself for the 19-hour ride. I didn’t have to worry about the fact that for some reason, although the TSA strictly forbids gel insoles on airplanes, almost every insole on the market has gel in them–at least the ones that have a hope of actually helping my aforesaid fallen arches. Amtrak, like the honey badger, don’t care. I didn’t have to worry about checking a bag and having it get lost, or trying to cram everything into two too-small carryons. I didn’t have to get there two hours early (although I was almost an hour early, but That’s Just Me).
I have this weird terror of being late for anything. I like driving places because I can control the timing of my arrival–sometimes within four minutes of my estimate. When I first started working downtown a few years ago, having to adhere to a train schedule made me nuts for months until I got the routine down. As it was, for the first couple of years I would always try to make the earlier train just in case I ran late. Most of my life runs that way–I am almost always very early for events. This is why I carry my Kindle with me always–because when I’m an hour early for something, I can always find a quiet parking lot to read in. But being early isn’t the only thing. I need to know that things will run smoothly, that I will be prepared in case of strange things happening to disturb my meticulous plans.
Tomorrow I’m flying to New York for the Rainbow Book Fair and a workshop that Dreamspinner is putting on for its authors. JP Barnaby is traveling with me, and I have sent her into paroxysms of hysterical laughter with my “preparations.” Which include printing multiple copies of every possible associated piece of paperwork, packing and repacking three times, going into frantic mode about the bus station we will be traveling to O’Hare (O’HARE!!!) Airport from (I never fly out of O’Hare. Midway’s bad enough, but O’Hare is a Sartrean vision of Hell), and, last night, having a complete meltdown on Twitter. Oh, and did I mention I have been up almost non-stop since 4 am yesterday? Yeah, insomnia is one of the other side-effects of air travel.
And the silliest thing is that I am packed and ready to travel (well, except for coloring my hair, which I’ll do tonight, just before I take the sleepy pills so that I can sleep straight through until 4 am–again–when I have to get up to travel to the bus station). I’m organized and have everything possible I might need–if the plane gets hijacked through an interdimensional wormhole and we have to survive on roasted airline peanuts and the contents of my carryon.