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Magenta Chicken | No. 2
Overpacking for life
As we lugged our bags back down the terminal corridor after our flight to Palm Springs was cancelled during The JetBlue FusterCluck of Brand-loyal Customer Betrayal, I realized I had overpacked.
I cannot travel without anticipating lost luggage and packing things to ease unforeseen, but potential, discomfort. This contingency cross-packing habit was born out of experience — 72 hours without a change of clothes or a toothbrush after a transcontinental flight kerfuffle when I was only 16 and travelling without my parents. This time it created back pain (The Super Mr.’s — sorry, hon) and a lot of unnecessary, erm, baggage.
I had prepared for every eventuality — unexpected weather, blisters, getting lost in the desert, a power outage at the hotel, pink eye. Everything, except the one we were in — mass cancellations of flights from a complete systemic meltdown and no one to fly the plane!
Being a highly sensitive person and anxious flyer in an enclosed space with hundreds of people whose travel plans had just been obliterated, I collapsed into a hot mess. If I could have rolled into a ball on the floor, covered my ears, and rocked myself while chanting “beam me up, Scotty,” I would have.
I did not need yet another reminder that — despite my best crisis planning — we are all at the whim of things we have nothing to do with. Universe, I get it. Ease the fuck up.
The truth is I was a mess before we even left. I cried when we dropped off Stephen at the moms. I didn’t want to leave any of them and our structured cocoon of safety.
I cried almost every day of the trip. I cried when I found out that The Super Mr. and I were not seated together on our rebooked flight on another carrier. I cried because I thought I got COVID when really I had just had two days of airport and hotel food, sugary alcoholic drinks, and a super-charged injection of stress. I cried because I had visited this place before with my father. I cried because whatever resilience I had before in my life was now a tattered mess of uselessness. I cried because I realized I was not ok. Not in crisis, but so, so far from ok.
Yet, I needed this trip to remind me that there is a world outside of my tiny, self-absorbed life and the small town ways of Problemstown, MA. I needed a few days at the pool with fruity frozen drinks and roadrunners mbeep-mbeeping about. I needed the open space where the eye can travel unimpeded for miles and to be humbled by an enormous mountain next to tiny little me. I needed the dry heat and the shiny purple-headed hummingbirds and the alien Joshua Trees and the giant fake dinosaurs and the walnut-stuffed dates.
Perhaps the biggest realization was that, all this time, I’ve been overpacking for life — stockpiling supplies, keeping This and That, just in case. The right object is not going to save me from distress, heartbreak, or disaster. (Although I will still always carry waterproof band-aids that can be worn in the pool in case I get a blister. And a flashlight.)
I needed the reminder that what always saves me are the birds and the animals and the flowers and the plants. The warm sunshine. A dip in a cool pool. A really good night’s sleep. A salad and some protein. The Super Mr. saying it will be ok and then making it so. (He saved this trip. When I just wanted to go home, he rebooked us on another flight, got us a hotel in Boston for the night, got our bags back, found a taxi, changed our arrival plans with our hotel in Palm Springs, fixed the car reservation, managed the 17-hour wait for JetBlue customer service to cancel the ridiculous flight they rebooked us on — two days later from Worcester — not Boston — with two stops, and made sure I was fed and watered and had extra space seats. He is my hero.)
And, JetBlue, our long-time love affair is over. I am breaking up with you.
More Juniper Disco: Website | Instagram (There’s a saved Palm Springs story, in case you want to see a roadrunner zipping around the pool. Sound on. I curated the hell out of the soundtrack.)
Currently reading: After the Funeral, Agatha Christie
Playlist: Airplane Songs. To keep my panic at bay while flying, I listen to these songs as soon as I settle into my seat and until we level off. It’s a weird mix of Bob Marley, Christopher Cross, Bill Withers, and dramatic TV theme songs.
For extreme situations, play the first song over and over and over again until you can breathe. Visualizing your ass in a hammock in a garden in Jamaica, rather than in a silver tube hurtling through the air helps, too.