This is me, packed for a business trip. I pack exactly enough. EXACTLY enough. I’m getting good at that and it’s a little sad.
No makeup in the luggage (there’s no point). It just takes up space. No contact lenses because I lost the last one in a toilet incident and I don’t have an appointment until the weekend. My glasses don’t stay on my nose and that makes me anxious. What if I have to run from kidnappers? The glasses will surely slow me down. At least I am wearing running shoes.
Here we go again on the gameshow, Speed Dating: Uber/Lyft Edition. I’m going to make things up about myself because I always have the same conversations. I don’t think I can say “I’m from Laos, I do clinical research” one more time. Unfortunately, I’m bad at making things up.
Awake since 3am, no food, no coffee, just move. Just get there.
I had it all planned out. The fog said: screw your plans. Diverted to RIC, waited on the plane, de-planed, waited at the gate. Finally, it cleared enough to fly back to ORF.
The clouds are just hanging there still, low to the ground. I am sweating. I lost my hair ties in a security incident and I’m not going to survive 3 days with my hair down. The hotel is great but does not sell hair ties in their convenient store. Just ice cream. I stared at mint chocolate chip in deep contemplation for 5 minutes.
Rushed to the office which is, thankfully, a 5-minute Uber ride. I’d walk but I need to be there ASAP and I’m afraid of kidnappers because of the glasses situation, remember?
I’m training this new girl and I’m a sweaty mess and I feel like I am nothing but wayward hair. I keep getting worrisome emails and voicemails from the office back home and it finally hits me that I am having a quiet panic attack. I can feel it because of the sickness in my chest that sinks slowly to my stomach, where it swells and I can almost feel acid eating through the gastric lining.
I am calm on the outside but I think this is why people like me get ulcers. Everything gets bottled up. I might have H. pylori. I handle the rest of the day but rush back to the hotel as soon as I’m able. I order Uber Eats (the introvert’s BFF on the road), sink into the couch, and binge on Netflix with a box of khao pad kra prao goong and lettuce wraps. I have a go-to Thai place and must eat here every time I’m in Norfolk.
Next day is much, much better. New girl loves to talk about rare, fascinating diseases just as much as I do. We cover a lot of material. She bought me hair ties. She is a modern day hero.
I celebrate the good day with a trip to Waterside and watch Robin Williams from a bar, eating poké with a glass of sauvignon blanc and try not to make any eye contact though I’m sure the bartender and I would be friends if I stayed for one more glass. The first bowl of poké has no spicy tuna – the main ingredient. I don’t complain about my food, like, ever. But I point it out and they bring me a new bowl with the chef’s apologies and it has doubled in size. Imaginary fist pump.
Thursday is half day at the office, half day of traveling and I rush to get through security while answering frantic phone calls and texts. I burp up pav bhaji the whole time, leftovers from Tamarind that I ate for lunch 2 days in a row.
My head starts to hurt if I wear glasses for too long so I take them off in Charlotte (reference: contact lenses toilet incident). For the first time I realize that this makes me less self-conscious because I can’t see faces, just blurry, moving blobs of color and it’s like when you’re a kid and you think hiding under a blanket makes you somehow invincible because if you can’t see the ghosts, they can’t see you either. I have to put the glasses back on to make sure I’m at the right gate and, later, to make sure I find the right luggage carousel. But by then I’m too tired to care about much of anything anyway.