The plane leveled off and we were free to move about the cabin. I found my make-up bag and hairbrush and went to the bathroom.
God help me, I love make-up. I’ve never been accused of wearing too much make-up but I don’t leave the house without at least some base under my eyes, eyeliner and something on my lips. I looked at myself in the mirror. I brushed my hair and smoothed it out as best I could, wishing I could wash it. I put some base on my face, maybe a bit too much. “Easy girl,” I thought. “You don’t want to walk out looking like a geisha.” I put some eyeliner on, blush and found my lipstick case. Ahhhh, lipstick. Sweet, lovely lipstick. I love you so. I felt a bit more like myself and went back to my seat.
Continue reading Coming Home [How Not to Travel Part 6]
The First Night
The Russian girl led us into a multi-leveled, small building with short flights of steps in between the levels. It was like a bad camp. A lot of beige. They brought us to a room with big wooden cubbyholes and lockers. The Russian girl told us to put our stuff away.
“You can…….take money. You can take…….few things.”
I grabbed my make-up bag for reasons that are not clear to me. Vanity, I guess. She looked inside, seeing a razor, nail clippers and tweezers.
“No, you not take this,” she said. I laughed. Of course not.
Continue reading Being Held [How Not to Travel Part 5]
“Stand aside, m’am,” the woman behind the glass said.
A short, serious looking man walked over, spoke to her then looked at me.
“Come with me,” he said. He had the paper copy of my passport in his hand. He directed me to a sectioned off part of the large room with a sign that said Border Control. There were a lot of people waiting. They looked sad and frustrated. There were two adjacent offices with doors open and a lobby of sorts. The short man started to walk off. I looked at him as if to say, “What now?”
“Someone will call you,” he said and left.
Continue reading You Shall Not Pass [How Not to Travel Part 4]
I knew I was at the right gate in Munich when I saw Hasidic Jews rocking back and forth with bibles in their hands, the fringe of shawls swaying and little boxes attached to their heads.
“I’m going to Israel,” I thought.
That first 10.5-hour flight had been rough. I had traded seats with a father so he could sit next to his wife and son. This put me next to an ornery woman whose husband was sitting in the row behind her. She complained and fidgeting the whole flight, leaning towards me and poking herself between the seats to have conversations with her husband. I think she had hoped I would offer to trade with him. It’s one thing to trade one aisle seat for another for a nice young family. It’s another to trade an aisle seat for a middle seat on a 10.5 hour flight. She was a grown woman. She could deal with it. She didn’t deal with it very well.
Continue reading Where’s My Passport? [How Not to Travel: Part 3]
The first time I traveled overseas I was meeting a group of political professionals. I was nervous. One was a Washington state senator, another worked for Emily’s List and another worked in the White House. I carefully planned out my luggage, buying all new stuff of course. I found this cool purple bag that went over the shoulder. I stenciled a cool design on my black suitcase so it would stand out. I was determined to be stylish and graceful.
By the time I got to Atlanta, I ditched that stupid purple bag that was cutting a groove into my shoulder, bought a simple backpack and sat on the floor of the airport, rearranging my clothes, shoes, computer and other nonsense. I was always the one in the group fumbling with my camera bag or taking longer to put my shoes back on. My brothers and sisters used to call me “grace.” They were being sarcastic.
Continue reading The Clumsy Spendthrift: How Not to Travel