As someone who has done her fair share of international travel, I feel it is about time I own up to a lesser known fact about me: I am a terribly introverted passenger. I avoid eye contact with fellow passengers, flight attendants, and security personnel. I speak only when I am spoken to, and I take comfort in my absurdly heavy load of unread literature.
I know, it goes against my otherwise 1000+ friends on Facebook extroverted nature. But after boarding my 100+ flight I realized it’s a oxymoronic fact– when aboard a plane, I am become an airborne recluse. And this is perhaps most pronounced with a friendly passenger seated beside me attempts to engage me in conversation. I provide monosyllabic answers in the hopes of dissuading said passenger from pursuing a conversation at greater length.
And believe me, with antsy passengers, if you give them an inch, they take a mile. One time on a flight home from Mexico City, a young American hitchhiker who had just completed his Central American backpacking tour, sat beside me on a rather empty flight. Eager to share the details of his four month long journey, he approached me for chit-chat. I resorted to my general one word answers until he tripped me with a simple question, “So what do you think of Mexican coffee?” Suddenly I couldn’t contain my syllables, and subsequently I was subject to four hours of the hitchhiker’s experience propelling down the Mayan ruins sans harness. Did I mention I am not an athlete?
The obvious question here is why I display a Jekyll-Hyde persona when traveling. And yesterday, while on the eight hour journey home from London, I sat pondering this very matter. Well, actually, I probably only spent about four hours on the matter, as I watched Drive and the 2011 version of Footloose for the first half of my flight. But once I had my fill of trashy cinema, I resorted to good old introspection.
And this is what I discovered: I am more like my mother than I generally care to admit. Now I love Mama B dearly, but I greatly value my individual identity– one that is quite distinct from hers. However, like Mama B, I must admit I have a great distaste for small talk, run of the mill schmoozing, and otherwise banal chit-chat. And let’s be honest, any airplane talk is meaningless jibber jabber.
I am willing to engage in it when it serves a greater purpose– when it’s part of the “networking” game. But when I am traveling, I am on vacation. I have no need to play the name game. Instead, I am taking some personal time to be alone or to be with people who inspire, engage, or challenge me. While I may try to silence the hyper-intellectual part of my mind, I am not particularly good at playing the role of the brunette bimbo. I am on the hunt for adventure– for interesting places and people. And frankly, the 20 year old girl touring with her college band in Edinburgh is not one of those people.
Call me elitist. I’ll admit it. I have a bit of it in me, and I suspect most of my fellow Wellesley biddies share my sentiment. We want our season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy, but we also want our collector’s edition of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.