Wednesday 18 September 2019

If I'm on the move, best avoid me like the plague

Toronto - John Masterson once arrived 24 hours early
Toronto - John Masterson once arrived 24 hours early

John Masterson

I love travelling. In my ideal life I would probably spend two weeks each month out of Ireland. I will follow the sun at every opportunity. Once I arrive at the departure gate with a coffee in my hand and Bruce Springsteen and the Sessions Band Live in Dublin in my ears, I am truly relaxed and happy. I set my watch to the destination time, leave my phone on Irish, and put my nose into a book.

I do not suffer from any travel anxiety. I do suffer from pre-travel anxiety and for the previous week I am a basket case; snappy, bad company and downright cranky. I know it. People who know me know it. But I have not yet solved it. My brain goes on holidays.

I once arrived at a Toronto check-in to be greeted with "You are very early, Sir". And I was - a whole day early. This was extreme, even for me. I will always be about three hours early.

I once sat waiting for the ferry in Roscoff while the ferry waited for me in Cherbourg. Worse still, I checked my ticket and managed to convince myself I was in the right place. I read the outgoing leg, twice, and not the return.

Once being driven to Dublin Airport I pointed out to the driver that she was in the wrong lane. She was a bit mystified as she was in the Departures lane. "But we are ARRIVING," I snapped.

I am not normally rude. This is not typical. I was forgiven.

Today I am preparing to go to Sri Lanka. I have woken up the last two nights from an anger/anxiety dream. I had a bad argument with a friend with whom I have no particular disagreements, and one pure terror nightmare where I screamed myself awake.

People have offered me tranquillisers but I have never taken one. My brain may be dodgy but I don't want to feel drugged. I prepare thoroughly. My spare room is pretty much permanently set up for my next trip. There is the list with everything from passport to phone charger to plug adaptors on it. There are the next two books I want to read.

There are enough shirts for every weather and social occasion. The pile grows and then about two days before I go I cull it and pack. Next day I unpack and pack again.

What I find odd about this behaviour is that there is no other situation where I have anything more than normal anxiety. Speaking to a group of people makes pretty much everyone nervous, but normal preparation keeps this anxiety to a level that helps rather than hinders. And it is not usually preceded by nightmares.

Either everyone around me is stupid for the few days before I travel. Or I am. I wonder should I, or could I, change. It might be easier to leave things as they are. And warn people to keep a wide berth.

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