A five-hour wait? “My Flight” had assured all was well: plane leaving 3:45, arriving San Francisco six-ish. Here, the board leers, “Delayed.”
Your flight now leaves 6:05, arriving after 8 p.m. There’s not time to go home, fidget, then return. The crowd about you thins as they stream down the hall to board a flight to Detroit. You sit down, alone at your designated gate. There are 263 books on your iPad, and there is a bar down the corridor. It is now just one o’clock.
Traveling, you realize, is a lot like childbirth. Nature programmed humans to forget the pain and terror of the experience and push on to their next “vacation” with optimism and great expectations. Like a harrowing 24-hour labor, one survived, you can dine out on travel mishaps for months to come.
Like expectant parents laying-in bassinets and onesies in the first trimester, you’ve prepared. Watered the plants, paid the rent, clipped your toenails, and packed, from lists drawn up weeks in advance, covering every contingency. Your deputized friend has a key, will come tend plants, pets, and mail.
At carefree twenty, you lipped a toothbrush and some underwear in a backpack and headed out the door. Old age—cautious maturity—requires fine-tuning, from head to toe. Now there are categories, and subsets. How many of each and why? Shirts: Three polos, two Ts, one (two?) long-sleeved light, one long-sleeved flannel, one sleeping. Jacket(s)—Windbreaker, one dressy, one casual—Can I afford a place swanky enough to warrant “Dressy”? Raincoat?
Maintenance. Pills, a.m., p.m., counted into daily doses. PRN: Tylenol, caffeine, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea, Band-Aids, anti-itch cream, antibiotic cream, sunscreen… Glasses, backups, sunglasses. Everything used to fit into this bag.
Accessories. Cameras: two bodies, lenses, ever-increasing in number, length and weight. Chargers, adapters, cords, cards, batteries… Harder to steady those long lenses, so add an ultra-light carbon fiber tripod. Just under two pounds. Insurance camera rider. Money borrowed on the credit card offer, fifteen interest-free months. Was my kit this heavy thirty years ago?
Nature will erase the tedium, turbulence, and strayed luggage (never check the cameras). The bank proffers another offer, and you’ll be off. The memories will last a lifetime, and you won’t have to send them to college.