Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thoughts on Traveling

In the past couple of years, I've started traveling with "strangers" quite a bit. In this case, "strangers" just means "people that aren't on vacation with me."

I've been traveling for work, conferences, etc. I often leave Kansas City by myself (or with a co-worker), and the destination is usually not anyone's home.

Some random thoughts:

-I never fully breathe a sigh of relief until my checked bag is back in my hand.

-I'm a lady. What happens sometimes is when I get through the initial security checkpoint and move into the area with the bins, I look down for a moment to put my ID back in my purse. When I look up, there are often five or more men all standing there, leaning back and whipping off their belts at the same time. It's freaky. I have to constantly assure myself that the TSA people probably asked them to do that.

-I'm fascinated by the fact that airports are these singular moments in time where so many strangers are dumped together to sit, wait, worry, eat, nap, call home, just...exist, and then you go ride in the sky with some of them. You never really know where someone is in their journey, and it's often not anything like your journey. But there you are.

As someone with a dietary restriction, it's hard to find good places to eat sometimes. I wonder what the right answer is when it's no one's 'home field' to be the hospitable host for a group, or when it's time to assert myself and say, "Hi! No more steak restaurants tonight, please." Or if it's just better to not socialize with the group and eat food on my own. I just never know.

And of course, my dietary restriction is optional. I'm not even someone who has allergies to certain foods. So when I'm with those kinds of people, I get my chance to feel like a total inhospitable asshole.

What I think I *do* know is that hospitality is NOT, "Well, no matter how much I hear what you want to do, I'm still going to drag everyone to what I want, and continually ask if you are OK while you are eating."

So, I think the answer is just to be in a state of constant readiness for compromise. You won't starve. You'll get home eventually.

Experience with Strangers in General:
-No matter how much complaining I do about restaurants I have to go to, sharing a meal is absolutely the best time to spend with someone. Break bread together. Seriously.

-There's so much joy in knowing that it's possible to share your existence with people across the state/country/planet!

It reminds you the world doesn't revolve around you.
It reminds you that you might not be as unique as you thought you were.
It reminds you how small you are in the grand scheme of things. But so is everyone.
But I like that I can take my tiny piece of existence and hug another tiny piece of existence and let them know they are valuable to me.

Even if we've only just met and may never meet again.

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