Much as I wish I were a laid-back person who could live easily with uncertainty, I am not. Though theoretically wonderful, in practice I don’t like gray areas of any kind. One of the gray zones I am most annoyed by is the one created by layovers in states or countries I’ve never been. Having touched down on Chilean tarmac and spent three hours in the Santiago airport en route to Buenos Aires, for example, I might claim to have been to Chile. But having never actually stepped foot on Chilean soil or breathed in fresh Chilean air, I don’t feel that I can. Instead, I imagine myself occupying an uncomfortable liminal state between having been and not having been, that must be rectified by going on a real visit to Chile as soon as possible. Most people could shelve that feeling, or would not have it in the first place. But I like things black and white, and so it nags at me.
Here are my gray area places. Fortunately, I actually do want to visit most of them. Unfortunately, I don’t have plans to do so anytime soon. As the list grows, so does my discomfort.
(The most notable detail of my layover was when a woman in the bathroom stall next to me puked all over the floor and it started seeping into my view. How can I have not truly been to Chile when I was traumatized by an experience I had there? It’s a paradox.)
(Below, a view of Bamako, where I spent an hour sitting on a plane with the doors wide open, troubling my “no fresh air” rule.)
(I took a train from Nice to Rome and it went underground through the entire tiny country of Monaco in less than twenty minutes. I only saw a glimpse of it out the rear view mirror from Italy, so to speak.)
(Abidjan airport: twice; country: never.)
(I’ve been through the Atlanta airport twice. Georgia remains the only state on the East Coast that I haven’t officially visited.)
Ohio / Kentucky
(This one is a double whammy because I flew through the Cincinnati, Ohio airport only to later learn it’s technically in northern Kentucky, which means I now have to visit both states to put the discomfort to bed…)
…Or I could just learn to live with the gray areas of through-travel, and life in general.
Does anyone else have this particular brand of neurosis or am I the only one wasting brain space on it?