The Realities of Work Travel

There’s work travel and then there’s work travel.

When we think of travel, we generally think of an undeniable, animalistic excitement – that which stinks of newness and possibility. For me, it’s that feeling that keeps me getting on plane after plane, punching in my credit card number several times a year.

However, travel isn’t like that for everyone. Some of us don’t get to get home because travel has forced us into a whole new one.

My friend was employed by a large sales company near our hometown following graduation, a great company at that with awesome pay and killer benefits. When she earned a promotion, she was informed that following a few months of training, she would be assigned a territory and she would have two weeks to move.

Upon moving to her new city, she was given a phone, an iPad, a laptop, a car, gas money, grocery money and a hotel to stay in for a few weeks until she was able to find a place to live. After a few weeks, she settled into a cushy luxury apartment in the city where she received her assignment. She has a walk-in closet and very impressive adult furniture. Not too shabby, right?

To me, her life is dreamlike. To be sent to a new, exciting city where one has no lingering ghosts. To make an enviable salary and live in a beautiful apartment. To buy your own groceries and make as much noise as you want and come and go as you please.

To someone who lives in a boring town without the means yet to move out, this is truly otherworldly.

Being as loudmouthed as I am, I eagerly conveyed my excitement to my friend. She couldn’t wholeheartedly agree.

“It’s kind of exciting at first,” she says. I listen to where she goes with this and I start to think. My friend can’t just pop over to a new, cool restaurant because she has no one to go with. There are not yet bars to frequent, friends to see or parties to go to because my friend doesn’t know one soul in the city. 

Any semblance of a life that she once knew is now gone, replaced by possibility, yes, but nothing solid in sight. In the long run, I’m sure it’s great. But when you’re bored on another Saturday night at home, now apt with possibility does this really feel?

This is true work travel.

And it also didn’t really occur to me when I was busy dreaming of what it would be like to go somewhere cool and nowhere near anyplace that I had ever been.

Travel is exciting. It’s fun and new and cool. But when you can’t go home, because you have been relocated in your travels, the novelty can wear off before a comfortable sense of familiarity can seep in.

IMG_8041

Heart

I haven’t slept in days.

Night after night, I lie awake in the various beds that I call my stopping points in my never-ending pilgrimage across New Jersey, and although I wake up before the sun can be seen and I lie down long after I ever wanted to, I can’t get my heart to stop beating so ferociously although my eyes are begging it to just be quiet so that maybe, we can get to work on time tomorrow.

No matter where I was or what I was doing, the most fruitful sleeps that I remember are the ones where I worked alongside the world by day, exploring and smiling, whether it be in the sunshine or beneath a faded blue poncho. I think of running into the various places I called home after breathlessly working to open the locks, my friends and I stumbling through doorways and collapsing on unclaimed beds, so tired we could barely bear to put up our hair or take off our boots. These rests were the ones that only came after a day climbing up mountains, battling the rain, running from misfits, and doggy-paddling the Atlantic and dingy ponds alike.

They didn’t really have much to do with waking up to a blaring alarm, strapping on a pair of heels in the parking lot, or packing a lunch. It was those days, back in the day, where I don’t really remember feeling my own heart beating out of my chest, but instead I felt it blaring in my brain, saying, Wow, isn’t this place magnificent or How did we ever end up here?

Never in my life have I been so tired as I am these days, never in my life have I worked so hard to achieve a dutiful eight hours rest. Ironically, never in my life have I moved so slowly, either, and for the first time, I find myself trying to pull free the heart in it all.

Image