When I was starting my career I travelled a lot. I was a college admissions counselor and had multiple states for my territory, so I would spend weeks of the fall moving from high school to high school, college fair to college fair. At first all the travel was exciting. I’d never really flown much as a kid and the novelty of airplanes and rental cars and new hotels was real. I also just felt really lucky. An admissions counselor position is a pretty great gig for an extremely extroverted 22 year old and I liked striding through the airport with my briefcase and business cards. In the admissions world there are short-timers (people who hold the job for a few admissions cycles) and lifers (the people who will eventually run the admissions department) and I was certain I’d be a lifer. I loved the work so much.
Over time though, the thrill started to wear off. I remember being on a two week stretch of fairs and chatting to the admissions rep from another college who had a similar territory to mine, so we’d been seeing each other for the same fairs for the last week. We compared notes on high schools we’d visited and then on poop — neither of us could remember the last time we’d had a decent #2. She thought maybe she had back in Albuquerque. I thought mine was maybe in Santa Fe. Or Colorado Springs. Too much fast food, not nearly enough water, countless hours in the car — we were both pasty and bloated. When I got back to my crappy apartment after that trip, I was so relieved to be home that it made me truly wonder how much longer I’d be able to do that job. It turned out that the answer was one more year.
Since that time, I’ve had seven or eight different jobs, all with varying levels of travel (though none with as much as that first gig). I’m traveling right now, actually, to present at a conference in Florida. As I’ve advanced in my career, the place I have to/get to travel to have improved (peace out, Colorado Springs), as have the quality of the hotels. I’m usually excited about the prospect of the trip, until I actually get there and then I realize that I really miss my family and that I sleep better in my bed than anywhere else and that there is a limit to the amount of restaurant food I want to eat. On my flight to Florida, I got upgraded to first class and I fear that the experience of actually having leg room and getting snacks may have ruined me for all future travel. I’ve seen the promised land now but I’ll never see it again, at least not on my own dime. My return flight home will be back with the riff raff in the economy section, where I belong. I’m never more aware of being a plus size person than I am when I am crammed elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder with strangers in a plane. I feel slightly claustrophobic just thinking about it.
But today I have a few hours to spare, so I’m typing this on my hotel room balcony, watching a storm roll in over the Gulf of Mexico. Soon I’ll video chat with the kids and husband and seeing their faces will cheer me. I’ll do my presentation, which always gives me a little high, and then quickly enough I’ll be back home. So maybe I should stop typing and go dig my toes into the white sand and have a moment of gratitude that it is sand and not snow.