Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I boarded my flight and immediately started feeling ill. I thought I might puke. I told myself it could be any number of things. I was tired, I'd been traveling a lot, I'd been eating a steady diet of coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots. But, as the tiny plane took off, I knew I'd probably caught my nephew's stomach bug. After all, he'd held my hand, taken a bite of my pizza and kissed me on the cheek before I even knew he was sick. He's a kid, that's what they do. I located the barf bag in the pocket in front of me and spent the next hour doing yoga breathing and listening to my iPod. I'm sure the dude next to me was frightened of me and he should have been. I was pale and sweaty and Walking Dead-ish. I was Lost Boys right before they turn into full vampires-ish. I was very very scary.
When I arrived at the next airport, I called my husband, frantic. I needed to get to Los Angeles that night so I could get on a plane to Maui first thing the next morning. I wasn't sure if I could get myself to the correct terminal, never mind be in the air for three hours. Plus, isn't there a moral issue? People shouldn't fly on planes when they're sick. It's really inconsiderate and messed up. He convinced me to get on my flight. He reminded me that sometimes I'm nauseous for no reason (I have fibromyalgia) and that it could be nothing. Plus, I hadn't hurled yet so maybe I wasn't actually sick and wouldn't recreate the film Outbreak (or any of the other twenty-three movies just like it). I stopped at an airport store, bought Pepto and ginger ale and hurried to the terminal. I sat at my gate popping disgusting pink wafer thingies and trying not to puke on anyone. I felt like I wasn't going to make it; I couldn't exist for five more minutes much less three hours. I finally decided to curl up in a ball on the floor of the airport and cry loudly so someone would shoot me or drug me or at the very least kick me. (I didn't actually do this, guys, I just wanted to.) That's when my flight was delayed for over an hour.
When I finally boarded, I sat in my seat and closed my eyes. I listened to music and tried not to breathe on anyone. I tried to think of something, anything positive in life. This usually gets me through pain. I focus on thoughts of my dog playing ball or a good concert I attended and I can survive pretty much anything. But, that night, flying away from my home state and my family, I couldn't think of anything good. All I could think about was the taste of Pepto Bismol and the notion that I'm always always always feeling bad. Not my finest hour.
I arrived in Los Angeles late, slept hard for six hours, left my house at six a.m. and got on a plane to Maui. I had my good attitude firmly in place. My In-Laws were taking us to a beautiful tropical island and I wasn't about to be sick asshole girl. During the five hour flight, I ate very little and began to feel like I might live and that maybe life wasn't horrible. Maybe I would be okay. I was staring at clouds and listening to The Head and the Heart when my husband nudged me. An old well-preserved lady jogged up the aisle toward us. She wore a leopard print blouse and heavy makeup. She had red nails and dyed-blond hair. Homegirl was at least eighty. She smiled at me as she bounced by. I watched her go past at least five more times. She cheered me up in a way my own brain couldn't.
I spent a restful week in Maui. I took photos and drank Mai Tais and swam. I snorkeled and saw a big blue fish. I bought shells for my nephews and candy for my friends. I felt sick almost every time I ate anything so I just drank more Mai Tais. I left the hotel on the last morning feeling rested, if still a little fragile, but like I could handle whatever.
While standing in line at the airport we found out our flight was delayed for three hours. I was pretty zen about it because shit happens sometimes and there's nothing you can do about it. But, people at the gate were angry. No one was happy, especially the people who would miss their connections. We boarded quickly and loudly. We were, collectively, an angry tired mass of humanity wearing way too much Hawaiian print packed into pissy rows on a piece of metal hurling through the sky. There were exhausted flight attendants, crying babies and full grown men fighting over carry-on space.
About halfway through the flight, I felt someone looking at me. I looked up and saw this tiny baby smiling and giggling over his dad's shoulder. I made a face at him and he made one back. I smiled, he laughed. Just then, the little old lady from our flight to Maui came bouncing down the aisle doing her exercises.
I thought about them both later, when we were sitting in our car on the 110 freeway for half an hour. There'd been a horrible wreck so the traffic was stopped at 2:30 a.m. while the ambulances and firetrucks sorted it all out. At first I was sarcastic: "Of course this is happening." Then I was sad, "Those poor people, I hope no one was hurt." Then, I thought of the baby and the old lady and I understood. Finally, I was resolved. "It's okay. It's all okay." Crazy stuff happens your whole life. Your baby eardrums hurt from the air pressure on a flight. You get old and makeup doesn't help. You get sick. People die. There are delays and wrecks and annoying things that muck up your day. But, it's all about how you deal with these constant set backs and interruptions. It's all about taking a flight and making it a work out opportunity or laughing with a stranger.
It's about writing out a long, self-indulgent blog to send the message home to your brain.
I'm off again on Thursday morning. I'm tired and out of sorts and I want to stay home. But, I'm going. And it's okay.