Who Are You When You Travel?
I checked my phone one last time before take-off. I already felt bored.
People-watching so far had been nice, though. I like to imagine realities for each passenger as they walk down the isle finding their seats.
The long haired man with the beard and a bright green bag must have come back from a spiritual journey in South America.
The confident man who is holding a neck pillow must be on his 30th flight this year. A sales veteran for a medical product.
The mother putting her bags in the overhead compartment has kids at home. They’re hoping her flight is delayed so they can eat pizza with the sitter.
“Are you a Student?” the older woman next to me asks.
“What?” I say, startled from my daydream.
“Are you a student, you know.. are you in school?” She repeats.
“uh..Yeah” I respond, before I remember that I’m no longer an undergraduate.
“Oh! I thought so, and what are you studying?”
She must have been imagining realities for everyone as well.
I decided it was best to play along.
“Yeah I’m studying design at CCAD” I say.
Then I told her all about how I plan to use my industrial design skills to make accessories for bicycles because all Summer I enjoy biking. It was all fiction, but she seemed glad she asked.
When you travel, you get away from much of what ties you to your identity. The only person who knows your story is you. And it’s only just that, a story. If you want to change, get away and practice first.
You can test out being a vegan or having a firm hand shake. Be a political activist or see how people respond to your high fives. It’s less risky this way, changing for strangers.
Most of your friends want you to stay just as you are.
I wonder now if the lives I pictured of the others on the plane were also just an act. Maybe they were practicing some new version of themselves?
At the end of the flight my neighbor wanted to put me in touch with her nephew who happened to be a lawyer that “bikes to work often.”
So I said said “Sure! Maybe I could send him a prototype.”
Who knows I might just take her up on that some day.