Paris - Day 0: The Machine of Travel

Everything is amazing, and I am thrilled. I’m writing this blog post in the first day which I’ve been out of the country since 2007. We just passed the last land that I’ll see for about 2 hours as I share a trip over 30,000 feet in the air with about 100 others on my way to Paris. I am happy that I am taking this trip, that it’s even possible for me to travel so far in so little time, and that I am able to experience this all with my partner.

The first day of travel is always the one that I freak out on the most. I get worried that I’m going to forget something crucial at home, that the flight is somehow going to go horribly wrong, that something big will happen that could prevent me from going on the trip. From the moment I woke up this morning, I could feel the weight on my chest of all the things that could go wrong in the day, holding me back, keeping me from taking that first step out of the covers.

It’s important that I make that conscious decision to start the day, and to get all of the obstacles that are in my way out of the way before I can enjoy myself wherever I am going. Usually I start the day on autopilot like most days, and then I make two lists. The first list is the one in my head of the things that could go wrong and cancel the trip. The second list is on paper, or on the whiteboard, which is a kind of anti-list for the other one. If I accomplish everything on the second list, I will have done all the reasonable things that I could have done to counter the first one.

The longer and more foreign the trip, the longer both lists get. Part of this is just because of the added complexity. There are more moving gears, so it’s easier for someone to throw a wrench in the works and screw something up. Add an extra set of identification that I need to keep track of, and the complexities of foreign currency, and other languages into the mix and we’ve graduated from simple machines into the renaissance.

I’ve felt that weight on my head every time that I take a trip, and I have noticed it consciously in the last couple of long trips where the cogs start to pile up. This time has been the most trying yet, with the triple whammy of travelling with my partner, out of the country, and to a foreign country.

So far, everything has gone according to plan in this trip, starting from the time when the decision was made, many months ago, through foreign language classes to get some basic French, financial planning to make this all possible, and this morning and early afternoon’s work all falling into place. As the machinery works, the lists get smaller, and the weight gets lighter. As big chunks of what could go wrong fall off of the first list, the second list fades to nothing.

Usually by the time I am in the hotel, I am ready to explore a new place, making memories that I treasure. It’s a wonderful time, and it’s only more exciting every time I get to go. I am so grateful that things are even better with Diana. It’s a joy to see new places with her every single time, whether it is around the corner or around the globe. She helps me set up the machine - she was the one who thought up the language lessons - and provides torque to help get me in gear.

In 6 hours, I’m going to be stepping on the ground in a city half the way across the world, where I can see great works of art, sample fine cuisine, and explore a city which has so much to see. The weight will be lifted, the machine run it’s course.

I’ll do it again as soon as I’m able, because I live in an age where it’s possible, and the reward at the end is great. And with experience, putting together the machine gets easier.