In Which Beth Remembers What She Forgot

I will readily admit that I’m a stressy traveller. I don’t sleep well the week before I leave, convinced I’ll forget something (there’s precedent for this, I always forget something). I don’t eat well (unless, like this time, my wonderful parents are feeding me, in which case I always get enough vegetables) and I’m prone to outbursts of seemingly incoherent babble which I swear make perfect sense in my train of thought. I wander about, for at least a few days before I leave, somewhere in between catatonia and blind raving panic. I ask myself constantly what I’m forgetting, what I might be forgetting, what I might never have thought of. I ask myself constantly whether this is really a good idea, if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this time, if this is going to be the trip that makes me want to go home and knit.

That’s a joke. I almost always end trips wanting to go home and knit, or watch TV, or whatever it is that people who don’t have travel on the brain do in their spare time. I don’t know what that is, for sure, but it’s probably not scoping out new and interesting places to visit on the “things to see before I die” list. A list that currently includes “Everywhere I can possibly manage”.

But I realize that not everyone thinks this way. Or acts this way. I’m fully aware that I’m a weirdo, and slowly but surely, I’m coming to grips with it. Not everyone spends the summer after they finish university going abroad to work in a summer camp. Not everyone would want to. But I do, and I am.

Jet lag and I do not agree. Well, let’s face it, I doubt anyone gets along really well with jet lag. Writing this, I’m sitting on a friend’s sofa (which will be my bed for the next few days) waiting for the water to boil so I can have some tea, and blaring music through my sub-woofer equipped headphones trying desperately and hopefully not in vain to escape sleep for a few more hours. It’s about ten minutes to seven in the evening, local time.

I know that conventional wisdom is full of good advice about how to kick jet lag’s ass, and not let it kick yours. Things like: stay hydrated, try to get some sun in, and for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t resort to chemical means such as caffeine, alcohol, or sleeping pills to get your sleep schedule back into whack. I generally try to stay hydrated and get some sun in (when possible, after all, this trip does involve England) regardless of whether or where I’m traveling. But I have to say, chemical means are usually the only thing that keeps jet lag from kicking my ass. I’m not normally much of a coffee drinker, except while battling jet lag or major projects, and the mild sleep aids I get from Boots are really very helpful for those times when my body decides it’s time to wake up at 3 am local time.

I’d like to say traveling is always easy. It’s not. It’s almost never easy. It’s usually stressful, tiring, and aggravating, not to mention sweaty. And then you get to the airport. Moments like this one, when I’m clawing desperately at consciousness, make me acutely aware of that fact. I’m not a bit ashamed to admit that I’m sitting here dreaming of my own bed and a time when I didn’t ask myself where my passport was every twenty minutes. What I have to remember in these particular moments is that if I had just stayed home and saved myself the trouble, I would be bored clear out of my tree. For me, even with all these decidedly less than glamorous moments that from time to time make me want to pull my hair out, traveling is worth it. Seeing and doing new things, going places that are different and interesting, that’s worth the stress.

And the sweat.

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