Never before this trip – a transatlantic crossing for a holiday in Florida – has my need to restore order and control in my life been more pronounced.
I went on holiday to stay with a relative in Fort Myers, Florida. I’ve had a wonderful time and, but for the actual travel experience, it’s been great to rest, relax and take stock before my first novel, Singled Out, goes live on Amazon on 1st February.
I enjoyed balmy sunshine, my cousin’s warm hospitality, a bit of tourism, a little wildlife and nature, a whole lot of meal experiences (that’s American for going out to dinner) and an almost criminal dose of retail therapy. Except for the combined efforts of British Airways, US Airways, US Customs and Border Protection and Philadelphia International Airport, it would have been wonderful. As it was, the transit element of my trip was, as they say, emotional.
I won’t bore you with the details, most of which are going in a stinging missive to BA later this week. Suffice to say a ridiculously optimistic itinerary courtesy of the BA on-line booking system, a missed connection, an ignorant goon in a BA uniform, a three hour queue for immigration, a deserted Philadelphia International airport absent of any useful signage, an unscheduled overnight stay, more buck-passing than I’ve ever before seen and several layers of systems failure and customer service ineptitude, served to drive my stress levels – both outbound and homebound – into the stratosphere. British Airways, henceforth, you are dead to me.
The chaos of being in transit behind me, I got home on Friday morning and my need to reassert control on my environment kicked in. I unpacked, put away, sorted washing, tidied up, re-set heating, water and lights, showered, made-up (though I would be alone all day), did my hair (though I would be alone all day) and made a to-do list. When I caught myself aligning in two neat piles the few scraps of paper which were destined for my desk-based attention the next day, I realised the extent to which I was reclaiming my peace-of-mind.
I had a seriously good time on holiday, but being away from home is weirdly unsettling to me. I love my home environment. I spend quite a bit of time here, as I work from home too. The unsettlement which comes over me when I travel makes me feel a bit silly – I am a grown-up after all. It doesn’t keep me from travelling, but I know how I am, and I dread the feelings of disempowerment and disorientation. Lining things up on my desk, leaving the exact right amount of space between the items drying on hangers in my bathroom, making the decorative cushions on my bed stand up just-so and all the other ticks are a rebalancing act. I was at it all day yesterday and by this morning, after a healthy 9-hour sleep, I was back in my box.