Wherever you go, there you are!
By Carol Thacker
Art by Tyler Gross
Published Issue 101, May 2022
“Take half the amount of clothes and twice as much money!” my avid traveling father blurted out from the living room as I threw my stuff into my suitcase before embarking on yet another adventure in my youth. Traveling, after all, is in my DNA. That is, according to my 23andMe DNA kit results.
Apparently my ancestors were Neanderthals, and I’m actually not that surprised. It sheds light on my inability to stay put in one place too long and the fact that I’m hairier than a Bee Gee. These historical nomads lived throughout Europe and Asia frequently migrating around until about 40,000 years ago. Theories abound about why they went extinct, but I have a hunch it was due to being pushed over the edge by frustrating woolly mammoth delays and lost luggage.
With all my experience traveling the globe, naturally some trips were smooth sailing while others had a glitch or two, putting it mildly. On my most recent trip, I was, for all intents and purposes, pre-tripping. My daughter (whose name I won’t mention but is the editor of this magazine) had given me large high-dosed “CBD gummies” for my insomnia before our trip together, adamantly assuring me there was absolutely no THC in them. Apparently I was zoning out during her careful instructions to only take one-fifth of a gummy before bed as this was my first time trying them. Instead, I popped the whole thing in my mouth!
Awakened at the crack of dawn, I felt like I’d spent a week at Burning Man with Willie Nelson himself. An anemic rendition of The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky played in my throbbing head as I fumbled in the dark, barely making it out of bed. I headed straight for the kitchen to scarf down a hefty pile of Eggo waffles covered in Nutella. And I am traditionally not a breakfast person.
I managed to drag myself onto the airport bus all the while wondering if the voices in my head were bothering anyone else and if the drug sniffing dogs would be all over me upon arrival at security. That’s okay, I reasoned, it’s not my first run in with dogs. (I once had a sheep dog attempt to herd me due to my very short stature).
My daughter and I had arranged to meet at a designated spot before going through security. Unbeknownst to her that I was tripping, she grew increasingly concerned when I was not only a no-show, but uncharacteristically not answering her texts or calls. Eventually she found me staring up at the ceiling, walking in curious circles. When she approached me I was apparently distressed and slur-whispered, “Did I pee my pants? No, seriously, can you check?” After sheepishly confessing my accidental gummy OD, she lead me toward security, holding my arm so I wouldn’t wander off (not all who wander are lost).
We managed to make it through the long-winding line, but then were separated at the X-ray machines. Stoned or not, security checks have always been eventful for me. Having a hip full of metal from a replacement surgery, I’m routinely patted down after I trigger the alarm. Still, I’m always a little leery of authority figures who don rubber gloves upon meeting me as you know they mean business. Even worse is when TSA asks me if I want the “private room” for the pat down. Unless Chris Hemsworth is asking, it’s always an emphatic NO! It’s bad enough to be seen naked with the full body scanners.
Relieved to make it through the airport fairly unscathed, we headed straight for a snack kiosk where I happily nailed a Costco-sized bag of Funyuns as the munchies were hitting hard. We boarded without incident, but things quickly went awry just after takeoff. About to scarf down more snacks I had stashed away, I opened the lid of my hand sanitizer and a pressurized gelatinous glob of gel shot across the aisle, landing on the chest of an unsuspecting/sleeping 20-something-year-old. I was tempted to point to the baby next to me but she woke in a flash and I was busted! At that point, my daughter and I gave up and ordered a glass of wine well before lunch.
I don’t know, maybe I should just stick to sea travel like some of my Neanderthal relatives. Granted they didn’t have Wayne Newton aboard to entertain, but I understand their buffets were to die for.
Carol Thacker grew up in New York. After taking a high school career assessment test that recommended she become either a beekeeper or janitor, she rebelliously chose to get a Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing. She has an extensive collection of kids and is a recovering Catholic. Carol’s been published in the Hometown Weekly and is a regular contributor to Birdy. She writes because she doesn’t know what else to do.
Tyler Gross is an award-winning illustrator and graphic artist. He has worked for a growing list of national and international clients including The Boston Globe, WIRED UK, The Globe & Mail, Sierra Club, United Way 211, and more. Contact him here for commissions and collaborations. Check out more of his art and work on his site and on Instagram.
Snag a copy of Issue 074 to check out Carol’s last Birdy install, Is This Normal For My Age? Peek Tyler’s latest Birdy contribution, the companion artwork to Brain Polk’s Fiction, Tidbits and What-Have-Yous, or head to our Explore section to see more of his work.
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