The Trouble with Travel

I am not a good traveler.

One of the last times I was in New York, my then boyfriend had a meeting and left me to my own devices for a few hours with very careful written instructions on how to get to a few places he thought I might like. I confidently set out from Chinatown towards Greenwich Village on the subway. An hour later, I burst into tears of frustration and panic on a platform in Long Island. I couldn’t even figure out how to exit the station- every exit sign seemed to lead to another platform.

If a train can be taken the wrong way I will take it the wrong way.
If I’m relying on my cell phone to meet up with friends in a strange city I will lose my cell phone.

Once, traveling by car back from Williamsburg I got not one but two flat tires. It was eleven at night. My phone was dead and I had twenty in cash and no card on me.

I lost my wallet in Paris.

Last year I went to Texas It was a vacation of a romantic nature, or so I thought. It ended early, in tears. I’d been planning on taking the train home by way of Chicago- I love trains, and I thought it a lovely way to see the country- and it was easy enough to change my ticket to the next morning.
The next morning Dude brought me to the station and as I was formulating some really killer “farewell, asshat” parting words I realized my i.d. wasn’t in my wallet. We flew back to his house and looked everywhere.
“It must be in your luggage,” he said. “I’ll drive back to the station and you sit in the back and take everything out, shake everything, look in your pockets, look in the lining of the bag.”
We were both shaky with adrenaline.
He drove forty miles an hour through the side streets of Austin.
We got to the station in time to see the only train to Chicago pull away from the station.
“Did you find it, at least?”
I shook my head.
I spent the rest of the day going to every bar and gas station we’d been to the day before with a man I never wanted to see again.
No i.d.
I got on the train the next day without it, but with a printed out police report reporting it lost and it wasn’t a huge problem.
Before I disembarked in Chicago, 25 hours later, I did a final check- cell phone, wallet, purse. All there.
Angela was waiting for me outside.
“I need a drink,” I said.
“As soon as we get you showered we’re going to pick up Kevin and go out,” she promised.
We went to her place and I took a quick shower and changed my clothes and went to get my purse to go out.
No wallet.
We looked frantically. We called the train station. We called the police. But my wallet, and the three hundred dollars in cash in it, were gone. I had to get on a plane three days later.

These are the kinds of things that happen when I travel.

Sometimes I wonder, in light of the fact that a simple trip to D.C. is a complicated journey full of danger, hidden pitfalls and unforseen difficulties for me, if going to live in a city halfway around the world where I don’t speak a single word of the language and have only two friends isn’t almost criminally reckless.

“Just please have Lou take you to the airport and make sure you, you know, get on the right plane,” Susan concedes. “I’ll try to save you from yourself while you’re here.”


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