Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘traveling’

Planes, Trains​, and Buses: Odyssey to Humility

file1461250298916 (1)

It’s the new year, and off I went to see my sister in Chicago.

I thought things were off to an auspicious start. I was PRE-TSA checked. But still, they unpacked my carry-on, waded through my underwear, and looked at me with a slatted eye. People watched and snickered as I repacked the bright blue and hot pink panties knocking one to the ground. Ugh – won’t be wearing those.

Then I had to wrestle the carry-on, kind of lumpy, listing to one side, into the overhead compartment of the plane. A man watched me. Didn’t help, just watched. Hoping my arm muscles wouldn’t give out, I jammed it in. He said, “I didn’t think you could do that.”

Cranky and smothering in three layers with the cabin’s dry, hot air blasting my face, I said, “Why didn’t you help me?”

“It was a good laugh,” he said sitting in front of me.

I kicked his seat throughout the plane ride.

At my sister’s suggestion, I bought a card for the trains and buses in Chicago. After spending five minutes futzing with the crazy machine, swearing, breaking out in a sweat (in the 10-degree weather of slush and gale force winds), I heard a harrumph from the machine next to me.

“Try turning your credit card the other way,” said a voice from under a parka.

Oops, that worked, and I had a green plastic card good for seven days of mass transit.

Then I tried to use the card to enter a nice wide turnstile. The woman in the cage yelled, “Hey. You there. Don’t use the handicapped stile.”

Feeling stupid, I moved my enormous carry-on, furry coat (a lot of synthetics died for that outerwear), and re-slung my laptop case over my shoulder. Making it through the narrowest possible turnstile, I made my way to the steps for the train platform. A man in front of me danced from one side of the stairway to another with each tread. More swearing. Is this a Chicago craze? When I misjudged his sway, and bumped into his back, knocking us both down, he slurred, “Sorry, my feet are cold.”

We missed the train. And both of us were very cold by the time the next one came.

Sitting in the car of the Orange line, I noticed the amount of junk around my feet. Food wrappers, single gloves, and assorted garbage littered the floor. Moving as fast as I could in my arctic apparel, my feet found a ledge, and I promised no touching the bottom of my bags. Yick.

Transferring to a bus, I thought, “I’m getting this down.” I managed to place my card wrong-side up on the card-reader three-times gathering a groan from the passengers behind me growing icicles. Sitting in an empty seat up front, my neighbor poked me in the ribs and pointed to the sign, ‘Priority Seating.’ I shuffled into a seat in the back of the bus where the floor resembled a food court.

Finally, I got to my hotel. The person behind the desk took one look at me, upgraded my reservation to a larger room, and told me about the nice bar around the corner where I could get an Irish coffee. Sounded good.

Unpacked, warm, and boots off, I thought about my trip. Humbling, my trip was humbling. In Dallas, I am nicely insulated in my car from other people and the travails of mass transit.

Sitting in the Irish bar, sipping the warming Irish Coffee, I thought about all the trash on the floor of the trains and buses triggering a funny memory of riding the buses in DC as a young woman.

I was riding the bus in the business district in DC during my 20s. I stood up at my stop. A sudden breeze ruffled my skirt, and suddenly, I was cool all under. Looking down, I saw that my underwear had dropped to the floor. Just dropped. Plonk. Pretending nothing had happened, I calmly stepped out of the undies and stepped off the bus. No way I was picking those up. At lunch, I bought undies at Garfinkels. What happened to the aplomb of my 20s?

Is mass transit designed to be humbling? Why do the hanging straps of the trains and buses resemble nooses?

 

(Image courtesy of morguefile.com.)

Fear as the Dark Mother of Moving

file2001285267791 (1)

Yes, I am moving to Texas – the land of big hair and blue eyeshadow. I know, I know. But it’s my fear after spending ten of my formative years in Alabama feeling under made-up and under poufy-haired.

I keep thinking about fear, fear of moving, fear of my friends forgetting me, fear of loneliness from a general incompetence in making new friends, fear of the heat in Texas, fear that I am throwing out something important. The list goes on and on.

So, I went for a walk last night around Five Points late in the evening when the scraggly trees blend with the night sky. Total patches of the earth are black and vision-proof. I kept wandering the streets, shuffling my way along pavements occasionally stubbing a toe or tripping, bouncing off tree branches, feeling the spiders from said branches land in my hair, and working my way into a panic attack.

Like most Scots, when I’m worried, I walk and walk for a while, late at night, regulating my breath so the fear coalesces, snaking back into the dark edges to lay in waiting for the next time that it can grab me.

I can’t remember ever being freaked out about walking at night. I’ve walked this area for almost 20 years. I’ve survived the night of Dropping Spiders (one April evening I found three had dropped down crowning me with 24 legs – still makes me shiver). I have listened to the trains go past with the chug-a-lug sound, never changing in these two decades, and wondered about where I was going in life. I’ve sat on the swings in the park, surrounded by the toys of happily innocent kids and speculated if the wisdom gained is worth the innocence lost. In the dark, I have admitted my failures, where I’ve been mean or thoughtless, ignored then stared in the face my aging with the creeping vista of finitude, death. I’ve cursed and cried, laughed and said “I love you” where no one can hear me.

BLACK LOTUS (1)

I’ve met Kali, the dark mother, twice in one weekend walking these streets. During yoga teacher training, I walked my beagle-dachshund mix, PooPet, at 11:30 one Friday night. My doggie loved the darks holes, where the light had disappeared with the dipping sun and would scamper into places that looked fit for Moray Eels or Jack the Ripper. Nothing stopped her thirty pounds of courageous canine, but that night, we tromped along, meandering an uneven sidewalk when a silhouette stepped into the road. In a long robe, features obliterated, with a croak she whispered, “Don’t be afraid.” I remember opening my eyes wide, struggling to remain upright as PooPet jerked the chain to run behind my legs. When I gained my balance, the street was dark, leaves slithered in the breeze, and we were alone in the darkness. I didn’t think too much of it beyond, “Holy moly, we have weird ass people in this neighborhood.” But then the next night, walking the dog, another woman stepped into the light in the middle of the road. Even backlit I could tell that she was not the same woman. She lifted her arms toward the trees, and PooPet let out a bark that morphed into a whimper. The air stopped moving. I couldn’t breathe. Now I was seriously freaked out. PooPet was still, and for a moment, I could feel my blood move through my body, like I was being watered from the inside.

This Kali was formal, “There is no need to be frightened.” I think I said, “Uh, yeah, Okay.” At that point I was scared as fuck, running down that road to the safety of my townhouse. It didn’t stop me from returning to the training class the next day, but I was really, really, very alert between yoga poses.

Maybe that’s the way this is supposed to be. I am aware, actually frightened, that things could go wrong in a big way. But. I’m still going to move to Texas. My friends, come along for the ride but hold on. This will shake us up! Anyone up for a walk?

Om Kali Ma

 

Tag Cloud