Traveling is a stressful affair.
Did I pack my swim suit? Where is my Fit Bit charger? Do I have enough underwear? What if I lose my checked bag? Where did I put my passport? Did you buy snacks for the car ride? Are you getting motion sickness? WHERE’S THE NEAREST REST STOP?!?
These were all questions that raced through the minds of my travel party today as we embarked for Italy. Step One: Drive to the Toronto Airport.
We left Erie around 1:15 PM en route an exotic layover in Fredonia, NY. And by layover, I mean we picked up my mother, who was equally proud of her new manicure and luggage packing skills. She got everything she needed into her carry-on. When I asked her what she planned to do with the souvenirs she’d buy in Italy, she shrugged and said “I don’t plan on buying anything.” Only my mother would assume that she’ll leave Italy empty handed. Wine! Leather! Scarves! Limoncello! You’ve got to buy SOMETHING.
Our trek up to Buffalo seemed to go by in a flash, and before I knew it, we were at the Canadian Border. What is it about border officials that makes me so nervous? I’m always afraid I’m going to be detained, even though the most offensive thing I carry is a book on how to write your own HTML (it was a birthday present and I LOVE it). I don’t think Canada is on the lookout for web designers who are only able to center align a picture, but I still feel like I become a deer in headlights when they ask where I’m going: Toronto? I mean, Italy? I mean, well, specifically, Venice, Rome—well, if you want it in order, Rome, Florence, Venice, but we’re probably taking some side trips to the coast and maybe an island, but not to, you know, like anywhere bad, we’re not bad people, I’ve just packed too much in my suitcase, and oh my God PLEASE DON’T ARREST ME.
Do you ever feel like, no matter what you do, your face will always look like a Guilty Face? I have this anxiety every time they ask where I’m from….like, I’m going to say Erie, but my face is going to clearly shout Amsterdam with a proper Visa. Or that I’ll lapse into some odd accent and they’ll give me the Border Stare and I’ll start weeping and convulsing in limbo between the USA and Canada. I’ll be stuck in Customs Limbo because I’ve starting speaking like Borat.
I am in unutterably boring. I’m from Erie. Originally from Jamestown. I pack too many clothes and I sleep like a baby in all travel vehicles. Yet, I still feel like I’ve broken out of Shawshank every time we cross the border.
The ride from the States into Toronto was smooth and easy. It took us a few minutes to realize that 80 KM per hour is something more akin to 55 MPH, and our pace slowed considerably. We took in the sights of the QEW: the foreign chain stores, the clean outlet malls, the signs in French. I still thrill to words like “quay,” “Missisaugua,” and “Wi-Fi.” I try to imagine what life would be like as a Canadian. It would be tres chic and filled with poutine.
Our arrival at the airport was followed by a lot of walking and a lot of waiting. Apparently, Alitalia employs the same people who work the grocery counters whenever I’m in line = a black hole opens up and TIME STOPS COMPLETELY. We waited in line for probably 30 minutes before we had our bags weighed. Again, why do I become a nervous wreck when simply weighing my checked suitcase? I always assume it’s going to weigh 2 tons because of all the books I’ve packed. So, what did I do this time? Put my books in my carry-on. And what happened this time? They made me weight my carry-on.
My carry-on was overweight. My checked suitcase wasn’t. Go figure. This is what happens when you transport the Lincoln Library overseas.
After we sorted out the weight of our luggage (and did some re-packing with the speed of Olympic qualifying time trials), we headed to the TSA check-in (or whatever they call the TSA in Canada…maybe Le Securité du Canada? LSD Canada? Nah, maybe not LSD.) We had no issues with the x-ray scanner. None, whatsoever. But why do I always have a mini panic attack when I think I’ve left an errant shampoo bottle in my carry-on? And why do I assume I’m going to be handcuffed and taken away in irons over my hair care regime?
We’re sitting at our terminal gate now, digesting a $13 sandwich from a fake NYC delicatessen. Boarding begins in 25 minutes, it’s a 8.5 hour flight, and I’ve already started with the slap-happy giggles.
God, I love traveling.