I love to travel. I haven’t done a great deal of traveling and most of my travels have been small journeys within the United States. Very little exotic adventure has made its way into my life as of yet, but whatever the case I love to travel. Even just the short journey to my family in Colorado, or visiting friends in New York, there is something so exciting to me about getting out that suitcase and trying to fill it with everything you may need for an unknown adventure. If I won the lottery or it was somehow revealed I was a royal heir (that doesn’t sound unlikely, right?) there is no question as to how I would spend them money: Airline. Tickets. Did you know you can buy an around the world airline ticket? Goals.
Now as much as I love to travel, going through the airport never seems to become a pleasant task. First you have the security line and the shedding of jackets and shoes. Next comes that terrible machine that lets the security officers have sneak peak at your body, always a wonderful feeling. After that you make your way to the gate and sit down, but of course, if you are like me, you realize you should go to the bathroom before the flight. Avoiding airplane bathrooms has been a very successful lifetime travel goal for me. But as I am often traveling alone I have to take all my things with me to the bathroom and lose my seat at the gate. Eventually it is time to board and this is where things start to get real for the larger guests.
I always try to be the quickest, most effective traveler so as not to hold up the line or draw attention. It is a sad truth that a slender person holding up a line and an overweight person will receive vastly different responses. I have created all sorts of protocol for myself to reduce the risk of drawing attention; the way I hold my suitcase, the order in which I put my things down, the way my suitcase fits in the overhead bin- it has all been crafted to a kind of choreographed dance.
After all this is when I have to confront my two greatest travel insecurities. The first of these insecurities is this irrational fear that the person assigned to sit next to me will take one look at me sitting in my seat or walking towards them down the aisle and think, “Please don’t let me have to sit next to her.” This is a terrible thought but, if most of us are honest, we have probably thought it about some stranger for one reason or another. And since it seems that airline seats are shrinking before our very eyes it doesn’t seem too unbelievable that someone could look at my extra wide hips and hope they wouldn’t be rubbing up against theirs for the next three hours. Most of the time I take my seat and promptly close my eyes to avoid the judgment I know I have imagined on myself.
The second of my great travel insecurities is the dreaded airplane seatbelt. Are those things getting shorter by the minute? Seriously, this is an actual question! I often have had to pull that buckle all the way to the end to make the latch meet. I then try to tighten it at least a little (low and tight across my waist). Sometimes I can pull back a few inches, but other times not. I once again wonder if anyone has noticed. Have they noted the discrepancy between my seatbelt and theirs? Can they feel my hips pushing up the armrest between us?
Somewhere in my logical mind I know for absolute fact that no one gives a damn about looking at my seatbelt! I mean, have I ever noticed anyone else’s seatbelt? Of course not. And yet, without fail I assume the judgment of other people where it hasn’t been given. I know I do this, I am fully aware of the situation and yet, I still let it happen. I think it is because as much as I can logic my way out of the situation, the experience isn’t logical, it’s emotional. I feel big in this small chair. I feel uncomfortable squished up against a stranger.
If I can change the way I feel about my body I can change the way I feel about riding on airplanes and busses and trains and be freer to explore a bigger world. I probably still have a little while to work on this, as I will be saving for that around the world ticket for…oh, probably around forever.