I have a confession to make: travel fills me with dread. No matter how many times I get on a plane, I'm still worried that I will be late (even if I'm two or three hours early), I forgot something important like my visa, or I will be the victim of a terrible disaster. One of the reasons why I travel is to overcome these anxieties and prove to myself they're unfounded. Normally, things go smoothly.
But sometimes things don't go the way we expect them. I would say that this is where we have our best moments when traveling but as I sit here with a wrist wrapped in a brace and a couple hundred dollars in medical bills from my most recent trip, I would say that's a bald-faced lie. Some mistakes and mishaps turn into adventures. Others turn into trips to the urgent care.
On my most recent trip to Seattle, I was the victim of random bad luck (it was Friday the 13th) and my own stupidity. Even though I was flying out of Burbank, possibly the easiest airport to travel in and out of, my palms were sweating as we drove through the San Fernando Valley. Did I have my passport? Wait, I didn't need my passport, I was going to Seattle. Was all my luggage here? Was my boarding pass on my phone going to work? I still don't trust those phone boarding passes to work even though I've used them several times now. Would I be late for my flight? I always think I'm going to be late for my flight.
My friend drops me off and I scurry over to security. Security at Burbank normally takes about five minutes and soon enough I'm handing my ID and phone to the security agent. He asks me, "Are you coming from a connecting flight?" "Um, no." "Are you connecting to another flight with another airline?" "No." "Well, Alaska isn't at this terminal." Well, fuck sticks. I said "Thank you" and turned around. Thankfully, Burbank has two terminals and they're right next to each other.
I get in line for security a second time. Take off my shoes, pull out my laptop, jacket off, I'm a pro at airline security, right? Going to the wrong terminal that was just a fluke. I've got the security line shuffle down. Hands up over my head, feet shoulder width apart, and they still have to pat me down in my crotch afterward. I should get paid for this.
Shoes on, grab my purse, and I pull my jacket back on. I wait for my carry-on to come through. I used a small suitcase this time because I wanted to have more cute clothes than I normally bring. Yes, I wanted to look cute for my friends. I usually schlepp around in my leggings and the same shirt I slept in, but this time I wanted to have make-up, cute blazers, and multiple pairs of tights.
"Whose bag is this?" The security guard asks holding up my neon green and purple floral children's Target suitcase. I tell them it's mine. I've had my bag double checked before. It used to be a problem with books. Books came up looking like bombs or something. Then, it was the chalk in my duffel bag from climbing. For some reason, getting my bag inspected doesn't make me nervous the way possibly missing my flight does.
"Ma'am, stand on the other side of this counter." I walk over and casually continue putting on my boots as she rummages through my bag. "Ma'am, we can't allow you to take this on the plane." She pulls out a six-inch folding knife from my small pocket.
"Oh, shit." I say to my shoe. "I forgot that was in there."
Another security guard comes over, and he measures the knife. He's trying hard not to laugh at me.
"You can surrender the bag or check it." The female security says to me with a straight face.
"With the knife? It's my dad's knife. I don't want to lose it."
"Or you can find someone to give it to outside the airport."
"But I can check the bag with the knife?"
"Well, then, I'll check the bag."
I just had to look up the TSA regulations on this. They don't care if you have a knife in your checked baggage. You just can't have it with you on the plane.
"I'm going to have to escort you and the bag outside the airport," motions the security guard, and I follow her. People are staring as I walk behind out the terminal and back to the ticketing counter.
I pay the $25 to check my bag. I'm not sure what I would have done if I didn't have the funds available to do this. There's definitely been a time in my life where I would not have had an extra $25 for a checked bag. I go back through security again and my flight is just starting to board.
You would have thought this was enough travel nonsense for one day, but no. The travel gods wanted to fuck with me and check my arrogance. I had gone on too many trips without any major fuckery so they wanted it all in one go.
I decided to walk to my AirBnB without realizing that the Capitol Hill area is, well, hilly. I dragged my little green suitcase knife and all behind me through the cold and dark. It was a rare rainless night in Seattle and it wasn't too cold. I wound my way through the dark residential streets, up and down the hills, and almost two miles later found my street. Two miles isn't far to walk but it can be a bit daunting when you're cold, it's dark, and you had an exciting time going through security.
Crash. My feet go out from under me and I put my hands out to break my fall. My suitcase goes sliding down the hill and my purse, with my digital camera in it, falls with a crack. I'm flat on my ass on a wet, icy sidewalk right outside my AirBnB. I get up. My wrist already hurts like hell and my butt is wet and sore. I pick up my suitcase and go to the right side of the house.
I'm jangled and not thinking correctly. I don't realize I've already walked through the gate the hosts mentioned in their message. I walk through a second gate and securely shut it behind me. I quietly walk through the dimly lit yard searching for a door with a lockbox. I find a dingy and rusty door with no lockbox. The pain in my wrist flares up, I'm exhausted and nearly in tears when I realize the door is on the other side of the gate. I pull on the handle of the gate. It doesn't budge. I had wedged it truly and well shut on my way in. I try to lift the latch on the other side, I even pull out a pen and try to lift it but to no avail. I just can't get the leverage.
On the left side of the gate is a rusting refrigerator. I need a few more feet to reach over the gate and lift the latch. I teeter on the fridge, grab the top of the gate, and launch myself on it. Dangling over the gate, feet in the air, I lift the latch and the gate creeps open. I grab my bag, hope my hosts didn't hear me breaking into their backyard, and give a middle finger to the travel gods as I open the door to my awesome studio for the next four days.