Cold Storage

Seattle, Washington

It’s a chill, wet day in Seattle, and I’m having none of it.

I came here to visit my dear friend Amber, who this morning departed for a trip to Paris that came up at the last minute, along with her husband and toddler. Had I known her travel dates, I would’ve planned to leave Seattle a bit sooner. But I didn’t so here I am, sitting in an Airbnb, listening to music on the phone and Bluetooth speaker I bought specifically for the purpose of listening to music while I travel, and feeling a bit chilly but otherwise fine.

So this is travel.

Pre-travel anxiety

The whole Paris thing put me in the midst of a whirlwind of travel anxiety, because international travel with a toddler is anxiety-inducing enough, and Amber has a pretty intense fear of flying — which, to her credit, she hasn’t allowed to rob her of a trip to Paris. Still, it has meant that my own head’s been in a bit of a whirl, as if I needed my own travel panic just to keep up. I settled on one of my perennial fears, which is that there will be something wrong with the hotel I’ve booked, and spent a good deal of time booking and unbooking rooms in Bangkok before settling on what I hope is an OK place.

I am also experienced enough to know that the antidote to these sorts of panics is asking for help. I posted to a Facebook group for backpackers in Southeast Asia and learned that yes, you can book one night at the hostel or lodge of your choice and then extend when you get there, that this works except when it doesn’t, and that there’s always a room somewhere unless it’s a major holiday. In other words, I’ll be fine.

Sleepy in Seattle

In  the meantime, I’m still in Seattle, and I’m going to take a nap. Because this is my life now, and some days I get to just nap.

Then tonight I’ll see an old girlfriend, and tomorrow a colleague from Google. Maybe I’ll head off to see A Sound Garden, the sculpture after which my once-favorite band named themselves. Or maybe not. I will get a cup of coffee. I will eat — Seattle has great food, and I’ve already had excellent Ethiopian, Sichuan, dim sum, and Vietnamese.

Perhaps — hopefully — I’ll also run into my Airbnb host, Laura. She’s a lovely social worker from Mexico, in her sixties, who runs a charming little makeshift hostel here. My fellow guest is a Japanese guy who’s in Seattle learning to brew beer so he can go home to Yokohama and start his own brewery. One of my best experiences so far was the evening the three of us spent eating toast, avocado, and sheep cheese together and telling stories. This is also travel, and it reminded me of those joyous moments of coming together with strangers on the road. I look forward to more of that.

And then, very late tomorrow night, I will emerge again from this brief interlude in cold storage, get on a plane — I’m riding on the upper deck of a 747, a new experience — and emerge, some 21 hours later, in Bangkok.

Where my hotel will be just fine.