Twenty hours in the air might seem like a long trip for some. Too far to go for a holiday. Too many hours in transit. Too much expense – of time and dollars – only to land and have your body-clock feel as though it’s been fucked sideways for about three to five days. It is a long way, yes.
I’m on the road at the moment. I have been for about three weeks. For better or worse, it means I’ve shaken the feeling of being fucked sideways. But when you’re on the road and you’ve traveled many, many hours to be somewhere, you are constantly asked by locals about time in the sky, so you spend a dumb amount of time thinking about it.
How do you cope?
Is it worth it?
Why would you do it?
I always say the same thing, a little monologue about my homeland, how it is nestled way down at the bottom of globe. Far from London. Far from Paris. Far from Rome. And far from America of course, a distance I have known too well for too many years. I have never been to London. I have never been to Paris. I have never been to Rome. But, oh how I have been to America.
I am nothing if not obsessive compulsive.
I have walked jet-lagged and bleary-eyed and dumb-struck on American streets so often. Too often? Perhaps too often. The trick when flying far is how you divide the time.
Two weeks ago: Sydney to Seattle via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Four, aka Too Early To Be Named Yet But Off To A Bloody Good Start)
*Arrive at the airport stupidly early because you’re stupidly excited.
*Consume five processed meals, six in-flight films and more than a few standard drinks.
*Have a brief nap but wake with enough time to obsess over a song or two, re-imagine an old love and remember why it’s an old love.
*Stop-over in LA and stretch legs, fire off an excited email or four and cue your favourite traveling song on the iPod so that when the plane that’s become the second leg of your journey takes off, you can let the excitement outweigh the exhaustion:
Four months ago: Sydney to New York via Vancouver, Montreal and Prince Edward Island (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Three, aka In The Interests Of Diversity – For The Love Of God – Go Further North)
*Arrange to meet an old flame in Vancouver. Obsess over this for the entire distance between Australia and Canada. It will kill the hours more quickly than you could ever know.
*Decide old flame is a bit of wanker.
*Drink. Meet new flames. Watch bands. Repeat until you arrive in NYC:
One year and five months ago: Sydney to New York via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Two, aka Seven Days In Total Is A Stupid Length Of Time To Try And Do This)
*Stay out until four in the morning in Sydney the night before and arrive at the airport with a half-packed bag, almost no dignity and certainly no sleep.
*Sleep all the way from Sydney to Los Angeles.
*Miss connecting flight to New York and become stranded in LA:
Three years, three months ago: Los Angeles to Sydney (Swift’s Adventures In America: Trip One, A Lesson In Breaking Your Own Heart, Really, Properly, Better Than Any Man Could)
*Fall head over heels for the country you are about to leave so much so that even the thought of getting on a plane home makes you feel unshakably sad.
*While waiting around LAX, in between drinking margaritas and staring vacantly at ugly airport walls, use public computers constantly and pick up swine flu.
*Sniffle all the way home, happy and sad and confused, love-sick and actually, really pandemic sick.
*Decide to find out how many times Steve Earle’s Fearless Heart can be played on a 14 hour flight.
*Land sleepless on the tarmac in the mother country. Feel a dumb sense of awe and happiness and craziness restored with the knowledge that LA to Sydney is not merely a 14 hour flight to you anymore. It’s 206 plays of Fearless Heart.