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As I write this, my plane is taking off from Houston International Airport. It’s the third plane I’ve been on in 24 hours and it still won’t take me to my final destination. Once we arrive in Belize City, we’ll have to take a ferry to the island of San Pedro.
Three weeks ago, my dad came back from having retired guy day beers outside of a local bar in our home town and excitedly told our family group chat that he had decided to buy 2.3 acres of completely undeveloped land in Belize. This was definitely surprising! No one in my family has ever been to Belize. Also, you know, a pandemic is ravaging the world.
The deal closes next week and I figured if this all blows up, I can pitch it as a book or something. (An HGTV show???) So we spent the last week getting everything in order. Belize requires negative COVID tests taken within 72 hours of departing. They also have a pretty decent contact tracing app that assigns QR codes to all nonresidents. None of this is particularly hard to put together, but it’s definitely more involved that it used to be.
Like most people, I haven’t really spent much time outside since early March. Before COVID, I was traveling quite a bit. This year is the first time since 2014 that I’ve gone longer than 5 weeks without getting on an airplane. I haven’t really talked about this in a public forum because there are so many other real things to grieve about our old pre-COVID world, but holy cow, I really really missed getting on an airplane.
I’m one of those people that loves the entire ritual of travel. I track the countries I go to on an app (Belize will be country 33). My suitcases are an endless Russian doll of smaller and smaller bags. I love plane bottles of wine. I love plane food. I love the feeling of walking through a concourse. The feeling of infinite possibility you get staring at the departures screen. When I lived in London, Heathrow’s international terminal felt like a second home. Do NOT eat at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant unless you want to drop £7.50 on a terrible americano.
My mom has worked as a flight attendant for my entire life. My dad used to work for an airline, as well. It may sound stupid, but traveling is a fundamental part of who I am. And I was lucky for a while to have a job that had me traveling a lot. The last year on the ground has probably been a necessary break, but it’s also been tough. It’s been harder for my mom.
I’ve watched as the post-9/11 era has sucked more and more joy out of her job. Now, two years away from her retirement, her job has become even more complicated. Every time she goes to work she is essentially playing viral roulette. Thankfully she’s managed to avoid the layoffs decimating her industry, but we recently did the math and realized that the cuts at her company have been so severe that she, someone in her late 60s, is now in the top 1000 most junior employees.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect heading to the airport again or getting back on a plane. I worried it would feel a bit like that first time you come back from college and realize your parents have aged without you. But you know, more dystopian.
My family, thanks to my mom’s job, fly standby. Which basically means if there are open seats, we can grab them at a severely discounted price. It’s not always a sure thing and it’s an easy way to get stranded somewhere. My record was two nights stuck in Dulles Airport, sleeping on the floor, waiting for flights backlogged by a winter storm to clear up. COVID has made standby even trickier. Normally, going from Boston would be a simple two-flight one-day trip. Now it takes two whole days of travel and also forced us to pass through Florida and Texas, two huge COVID hotspots. The airports were really crowded. I did not like that.
I don’t want to sound to dour. I’m spending the weekend on a beach! But also, you know, navigating plague-ridden airports with my 70-year-old father is complicated. Ten days from now, if neither of us have symptoms, I’ll breathe a big sigh of relief and talk about how much fun this all was.
In the meantime, here are some initial observations I had about The Way We Travel Now:
every single man over the age of forty has some kind of fundamental inability to cover their nose with their mask.
a lot of people in Miami think a face shield can be worn instead of a face mask.
airports have closed a lot of their coffee shops which has created an atmosphere at the Starbucks that remain open that reminded me a lot of the autonomous zone scene from Children Of Men.
planes board by reverse seat order now and it’s honestly the dopest shit in the whole world.
I learned how to drink through a straw going up into the bottom of my mask. It looks insane, but it works.
the fact the TSA checking area is the only part of the airports that has remained unchanged by social distancing measures should tell you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of the social distancing measures that have been taken everywhere else.
I watched four maskless people in a food court eat Panda Express underneath a TV screen playing a report that said Dr Fauci thinks things won’t go back to normal until 2022.
planes aren’t serving booze on board, but thankfully they are serving coffee.
Ok! That was Garbage Day Abroad. Stay tuned for another couple these next week. Here are a few internet things.
A Very Important Andrew Lloyd Webber Video
soph @sophieannelaneStill fuming that The Black Parade hasn’t been made into some incredible goth musical.
I agree with Twitter user @sophieannelane. There should be a My Chemical Romance musical. In fact, back in college I wrote an outline for one. My idea was to use the first three My Chemical Romance to tell the story if The Great Gatsby. Maybe I’ll try and rewrite the treatment and DM it to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The WikiFeet Wars Continue
Earlier this week I wrote about how YoutTube drama man Keemstar has the lowest-rated feet on WikiFeet. An eagle-eyed Garbage Day reader named Glenn told me that it’s actually part of a campaign led by fans of the H3H3 Productions. H3H3 host Ethan Klein is beefing with Keemstar and Klein’s fans review-bombed Keem’s feet and given Klein an extremely high rating on the site.
Honestly, if you can’t trust WikiFeet anymore. Who can you trust???
Check Out This Sick Tat
Hell yeah, dude.
Here’s The Most Profoundly Uncomfortable Video I’ve Ever Seen
Fun little story: I once had a very wise editor (who has a great newsletter you should check out) that had a very specific Halloween rule. She said that under no circumstances should reporters ever wear Halloween costumes on air. Her thought was, “if a horrible breaking news event happens and you’re dressed like Dracula on TV, you’re going to have to cover it dressed like Dracula.” I would argue that this video is so much worse than that.
P.S. here’s a spooky bop.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose and likely happened because I wrote this on my phone***