I travel a lot. People ask me all the time how I deal with it. Well, except for being away from my cats (and my friends, my husband, my closet, the gym, my own refrigerator, my office, the ability to cook my own dinner, NYC, the East Coast generally), I like it. I actually like traveling. What? You don’t believe me? Then let me tell you, here is what I like about it:
On the West Coast I can be the morning person I’m sure I am meant to be. I wake up at 5:30/6 without trouble; I catch up on news feeds, skim the papers (online, the NYTimes and the WSJ), I eat breakfast and I work out. By 7:30 or 8:00AM, I am fed, in shape, and knowlegable. I have started my day productively, as opposed to on the East Coast where the start of my day is about as relaxing as being shot out of a cannon. At home, I get up at the last minute, usually after hitting the snooze alarm a few times (because I always INTEND to get up and work out), rush to shower and throw on some make-up, stand in front of my closet wondering what to wear (and how I EVER get out of the house looking suitable…on this I am improving – I have started picking my clothes the night before). Then I feed the cats, rush to the subway, buy a paper which I rarely read since my subway ride is only a few minutes, get to the office and once there, help myself to the Breakfast of Champions, coffee and a multi-vitamin. Doesn’t that sound Zen? One point for the West Coast.
I also love the West Coast because some of my best friends live there, and I get to see them. Be it San Francisco or Los Angeles, having dinner with an old friend is always a treat. And since I don’t live there, friends tend to make an effort to see me when I am in town. This always surprises me, since I am there nearly every other week, but why look a gift horse in the mouth. 9 times out of 10, when on the West Coast, if I call a friend and say “You around for dinner?” they say yes. At home, we have to plan for weeks in advance just to get together for coffee. Score a second point for the West Coast.
Another reason I like traveling is I am great at utilizing airplane time. I take a stack of magazines, catch up on reading, tear out pages I want to keep, toss the rest away. I read the paper cover to cover (almost). I work going west, emailing people I have meant to get back to, reviewing analyses for various portfolio companies, and do all that work-y stuff. You know, work. All that stuff you do when you work. Coming back east, I catch up on play time reading (i.e. fiction, and my first love, magazines!), do the Sunday crossword puzzle (ok…Monday), and write blog posts (like this one here). I also spy on other people, see what they are reading or writing, and since they are generally less productive than I am, I use this as an opportunity to feel superior. I of course am
Plane time, to me, is like Minaki. What is Minaki? Minaki is a place The Big H’s family has gone for years for vacation, and now I, as part of that family, go too. It is a place with no phone, no email, no TV. Just like an airplane – pretty much, anyway. The idea being that though I can email, there is no connectivity on the plane, just like there is no connectivity in Minaki. Your choice is to either sit there like a zombie, or keep yourself company. I like to be with my thoughts every once in a while, out of the land of Always On Connected Distraction (AOCD Syndrome).
Of course, because I am part lunatic, all that ALONE time can make me crazy. All that thinking, you know. Thinking and talking to oneself. Well, even then, traveling has taught me how to manage. When I start to go crazy with my thoughts, while in a closed aluminum tube 30,000 feet above reality, I turn to American Airlines once again. It’s really all about Business Class. Nothing a nap in a reclining seat, a small glass of wine or an ice cream sundae can’t fix. See, American Airlines to the rescue.
I also get to learn funny little facts like how duct tape gets rid of warts (shown in the plane, a segment from Letterman) and catch up on pop culture (I saw The Queen and the first episode of Rules of Engagement on a plane).
And there is one other thing I really like about flying - coming through the clouds and seeing the blue sky. Regardless of how bad the weather is on the ground, when flying you always get to break through the gray yuck weather, and hit God’s Country. I just love clouds and at the risk of getting all spiritual and goopy, coming through the cloudline reminds me everytime that no matter how bad I might think things are, no matter how upset I might be (for the record, I am not normally in a state of despair when I get on a plane…but if I am…), I get to be reminded that there is always blue sky and beauty somewhere.
And then of course, there is the landing. As an East Coaster (really, New Yorker), through and through, I love seeing the Big Apple skyline from above. This image has brought me to tears since I was a child. It’s always a treat to see the skyline – those glittering buildings that make up the place I call home.
So there you have it. I have not even mentioned the West Coast weather, building frequent flyer miles (for cheaper vacations!) or the shopping. Don’t get me wrong, moving is not an option. For me, the benefits of the West Coast are very much tied to the fact that I live on the East Coast. Or, really, on American Airlines.