I’d been dreading it for weeks.
The upcoming Red-Eye Flight. Number seventeen in my lifespan of just thirty years. I love to travel but something about red-eye flights to Europe make me want to slit my wrists. From the moment you depart for the airport, until about 48 hours later – it’s all pretty much pure torture.
I depart my home for Detroit airport, knowing that a blizzard is wreaking havoc on the Eastern Seaboard, and upon arrival find my connecting flight to Newark has been cancelled. I sweet-talk the nice lady behind the counter, explaining that I’m the group leader for a tour and without me my traveling companions will be hopelessly lost. She puts me on standby for a 1pm flight delayed until nearly 3pm. I go to the gate, make a few phone calls and wait. If I make stand-by I arrive in time for my 7pm flight to Birmingham. If not, I leave tomorrow.
My luck is good today and I make the stand-by flight, arrive in time to make my flight to Birmingham. I decide to go and get a better seat, as my recent trick I like is to pick a window seat in the rows of the high 20s and low 30s – where the middle seat is empty and the aisle is occupied. Nine times out of ten, the middle seat remains empty and I can spread out. I’m in luck. Nice guy behind the counter gives me an entire row to myself. Score! He also realizes I’m not even checked in. When I “checked in” earlier, the gate agent checked in the wrong person on my group itinerary. Good job asshat. You could have made me miss my flight. And, you even looked at my ID. Did you not notice my ID didn’t match the boarding pass you handed me? (Yeah, neither did I.) You’re still an asshat.
The chance to spread out offered no opportunity for sleep. I change position over and over and sleep will not come. I consider taking the Tylenol PM I brought with me but with a 5.45 hour flight, that may be a bad idea. After dinner I’d get three hours of sleep at the most and then possibly feel more miserable with the sleepy drugs. I went without. I pacified myself with my own personal TV monitor and watched “Twilight.” I’m pretty sure husband wouldn’t want to watch it, and I was intrigued. Happy I watched it, because I really liked it. Completely absorbing (as If I had other things to do), a little bit obvious the target audience was 13, but overall pretty good movie.
We eventually are served breakfast of a flat warm croissant and a fruit salad of un-ripened honeydew, canteloupe and grapes. At least it isn’t yogurt.
We land and shuffle to baggage claim. My bag is the first to arrive as it was gate checked in Newark. I had to lug it around from DTW to EWR because of my stand-by status.
All bags arrive. We depart the airport for the hotel. We arrive and are told by the cold front-desk staff that check-in is at 2pm. I explain that I know when check-in is, but we’d like rooms as soon as they are ready, as we’ve come off red-eye flights and will be sleeping in your lobby until rooms are ready. I ask every other hour and am continually told no. Find my travelers a room or I’ll annoy the crap out of you. After waiting in the lobby for about three hours (which seems like a freakin’ eternity when your body thinks it’s awake 3am – 6am). I go to my room, unpack and light-nap for about 4 hours. I get up, shower, brush teeth, and go to dinner. I turn on my sociable front and buy a round of drinks for everyone, and then dinner for everyone. My co-worker does not arrive after a severe-onslaught of the flu stomach has rendered her unable to leave the bathroom. I’m asked by all the dog lovers on this dog trip what kind of dog I have. I’ve never in my live owned a dog. I tell them he’s small and furry and his name is Sebastian. And he meows. Owning a dog is not a prerequisite for escorting a dog tour. We also do tours to two of the world’s largest flower shows, Wimbledon, Oktoberfest, and Blackpool Ballroom dance. I also do not garden, play tennis, care much about beer, and really don’t like dancing. So, there you go. I’m still good at my job.
Afterward, I return to my room and my lovely pajamas. I again consider putting myself to sleep with Tylenol PM and forgo the idea. For some reason this first night I can always fall asleep easily, but will always wake up somewhere between 3am and 5am and be up for about two hours. Upon returning to sleep when the alarm goes off I am too exhausted to get up. This particular trip, I’m up from 4:39 am until about 6:30. I finish off “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. The alarm goes off at 8am, I reset it for 9am. I awake at 9, jump into the shower and begin to feel weak. I feel weaker and woozier and horrible and odd. It worsens until waves of nausea set in. I begin to think I’m pretty sure I’m gonna throw up in the shower. I quickly rinse off and get out. If I don’t lie down immediately, I’m going to pass out. I look in the mirror and I’m white as a sheet, no color in my lips, cheeks or anything. I throw on the robe and lie down on the bed and curl up in a ball, waiting for this … this whatever it is to pass. I must be dehydrated. Maybe I’m getting sick? Maybe I got up and got moving too fast? I remember one trip to Italy where I was hit with early-morning nausea. It must be the jet-lag. Slow down. I lay there for about 5 minutes and then slowly get ready. I go downstairs and get cereal, pineapple and a croissant and coffee. I sit and stare at my food for about ten minutes, with no desire to eat. I eat a few bites of each item and sip a bit of coffee. Slowly throughout the day I feel better and better, but cautious because of the weird wave of whatever that knocked me on my ass this morning. And, as I predicted about 48 hours after leaving my house… I begin to feel normal. Optimistic about exploring Birmingham and enjoying the UK.
After all this, I get to do it all over again in May. And June. Don’t cha just love travel?