Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Feeling empowered, or not

The last bit of traveling I did before we left for the Chermeo World Tour was a quick reporting trip to Dallas in early February for book research. It was pretty routine – 3 days, 3 nights, back to New York in time for the weekend.

I called a gypsy cab to our apartment, finishing off some notes on the 25-minute ride to the airport. Met Tyler, then a nap until we land in Dallas. I’m not feeling so hot on the plane, but no big thing. We rent a car, get to the Galleria, have a beer, tuck in early for the long day ahead.

By 3 a.m. I am full-blown sick and so uncomfortable I can’t sleep. I ask the concierge if they have a pharmacy in the hotel, and they don’t, so they arrange for a cab to take me to the nearest 24-hour CVS. By 3:45 a.m. I am back in the hotel, over-the-counter drugs in my hand, on my laptop filling out an online prescription for Walgreens that I can pick up the next morning. I check to see that my AOL blog is up without a hitch, return some emails, finally get to sleep.

9 a.m., Tyler and I are done with breakfast and headed to Walgreens. I take my pills and we move on to a day of interviews, led and organized by me. A few days go by, we find ourselves back in New York.

Tyler and I become new best friends, we get the work done, all is good. Not at all spectacular.

I mean, it’s all so simple, right? But I had a moment the other day, when I was in yet ANOTHER uncomfortable situation, feeling alienated as a woman and confounded by the simplest task, a little afraid to speak up, made awkward and self-conscious by the men staring at me, confused by the language and the customs, and completely frustrated and unsure of myself and what to do and how to do it, even if I knew what the hell was the right thing to do in the first place. And I flashed back to that moment in the middle of the night at the Westin Galleria, when I knew EXACTLY what to do to take care of myself and how to get it done, when I was so completely sure of my actions that I never would have dreamed of calling it confidence. I mean, what other way would it ever be?

Lots of other ways, it turns out. Somehow for all my ruminations on the importance of “getting out of your comfort zone,” I never realized that I might be actively uncomfortable and uncertain, for much of the time I was traveling. Stupid and strange of me. Stranger still, that I don’t want it to end.

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