to hell and back
I traveled earlier this week and must have caught some sort of bug en route, because a headache and leaky nose have conspired with crushing fatigue to keep me in bed the past few days. My immune system is about as impenetrable as tissue paper due to all the medications I'm taking, and it's a wonder this is only the third or fourth time I've gotten sick this year. I guess it's a testament to how well I've been sleeping and taking care of my body.
I got to see Iowa for the first time this week. The closest I've been to the American Midwest is Chicago, which, for all its urban glory, did not exactly prepare me for the desolation that awaited me in small town Iowa. It was more than ten degrees below zero when I arrived at night, cold enough to freeze-dry my eyeballs in their sockets. I waited more than half an hour silently begging for an Uber to pick me up from the airport, and spent the same amount of time listening to my driver talk about life in the Midwest as we whizzed past endless fields of wheat. I still can't believe anyone actually enjoys living out there but it was nice hearing her talk about how much she enjoyed watching the leaves change color in autumn and sledding down snowy hills in winter. (I resisted the urge to tell her that many other parts of the country also have deciduous trees, and a lot more of them at that. I did not wish to walk the rest of the way to my hotel.)
Now that I don't travel for work anymore I feel so rusty doing it again. The whole ordeal—taking the train to the airport, crawling through security and boarding, hailing an Uber, waiting for my connection—completely drained me. I was originally drawn to the business travel when I took my last job but now I'm thrilled to see it go. The only thing I really miss is being able to eat whatever I want whenever I get hungry: the bag of apples and bananas that served as my personal item filled up the area under the seat in front of me better than it did my stomach.
While making my way around my home airport I felt pangs of anxiety and realized that I was afraid of running into old coworkers (mostly just my old boss). Every single short blonde man with blue eyes made my heart rate spike. I wasn't even in the airport at a time we usually would have been there for work, but since I had seen him so many times in the airline lounge I've unconsciously associated the place with him. It doesn't help that he lives ten minutes from my house. Sometimes I play out nightmare scenarios in my head of what I (and he) would do if one day I ran into him. Would he acknowledge me, come over and say hi? Would I ignore him or be civil? I still don't know what I'd do, but I pray that day never comes.