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Sometimes it just takes a little pain.

Am I in the right seat?

MOROCCO | Friday, 2 May 2014 | Views [130] | Scholarship Entry

My knees keep hitting the seat in front of me, and there seems to be no posture that I can assume that will make this flight bearable in the least. I wasn’t designed for economy class, but my wallet wasn’t designed for first class, so continuously subjecting myself to the pain of travel is either a testament to my love of it or proof positive of a desperately low IQ. The small screen that was supposed to keep me civil and entertained for the next 9 hours is despondently blank, and the sad truth that it’s the sole malfunctioning unit on the plane doesn’t help. The dry, stale peanuts that were offered as consolation taste even less appealing than usual, and as I scan the other passengers settling into their chosen rerun of 'Friends', I wonder how I have put up with this for so long.

Fortunately for them, observers back home largely see the sanitized moments- startling vistas over craggy peaks, waterfalls and streams of an almost surreal blue, tasty offerings from street stalls and opulent splurges worthy of a Michelin star- and thus the inevitable refrain, “you’re so lucky to travel so much!” But how would their estimation change if they saw this moment in the slow isolation that confronted me now? Would they be as enamored with the faded and peeling safety instruction manual, now committed to memory, or the pleasant smell emanating from the lavatory only two seats ahead of me? Or might they settle further into their plush leather cushions and let David Attenborough’s voice take them to faraway places instead?

I’d been building to this moment since the day following college graduation, when I boarded my first flight in a series that has grown much longer than my resume. Temptation and a few well worn pairs of shoes had together made childhood dreams reality and spawned new daydreams that outpaced my cadence of discovery. My character evolved, my tastes and disposition too, and even though I had initially seen my exodus as a temporary matter, I would soon celebrate 6 years of expatriate life with no end in sight.

The food cart passes and my left knee takes another battering, but the pain elicits a wry smile, for I know I’m still in love and not insane. Because this wretched seat now numbing my right cheek is still better than plush leather, and the chicken or beef is still preferred to a well stocked fridge. My frustration fades, and I defer sleep to enjoy the contentedness that has nothing to do with where I am, but everything to do with where I’m going.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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