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As such, our vacation preparations unfold differently: I read hotel reviews, pore over maps, and note our proximity to major hospitals while he steps onto the airplane without a clue where it will land. I prepare for diarrhea, malaria, guerrilla warfare, and hangnails; Shawn forgets to bring pants. We are going to Costa Rica for our anniversary, leaving the children with their grandparents.
My travel anxiety engages as we drive to the airport. The interstate is a brilliant red pinball machine, and I am the silver sphere trapped in its walls. The underground tram to the terminal is a tunnel that could collapse at any moment and bury me alive. If I lose my footing on the escalator, it will scalp me, and behind the counter at Au Bon Pain lurks a botulism-tainted scone. I scan for terrorists, zeroing in on anyone who looks more nervous than I do, including an elderly man with a cane — the aged and infirm are highly under-scrutinized. At security, my shoes, belt, coins, and keys go into the tray, but Shawn seems to be clothed in chain mail and steel-toed lace-up boots.
TSA relieves him of the large can of spray deodorant he always packs in his carry-on bag — one never knows when he might work himself into a stink, he says — and he stands in the thick of the exiting throngs as he re-thre his belt through his pants, loop by loop. Wait a minute! Surprisingly comfortable in the middle seat, he presses his knees into the back of the chair in front of him, settles in, and lets one fly. He farts on every plane ride, and claims that everybody else does too.
Trapped in the window seat, I poke him in the arm. People are going to think I did it. When the plane successfully reaches cruising altitude I turn my focus to my calves and wait for a thrombosis. Shawn smiles in his sleep. When we travel, he always smiles, and he carries all of my heavy bags, and the kids too if they are with us. Often he remains oblivious to our itinerary. He wakes up in the morning whenever I ask him to, and he socks away extra money to buy me a gift. The plane rattles. After twenty minutes, the drug enters my bloodstream with the force of an engulfing wave.
I feel my chances of survival improving. The cabin no longer smells like a discarded sock, and I wonder: Is this what it feels like to be Shawn? To look down on 30, feet of atmosphere and believe that it will carry me to my destination?
To venture far from home without concern for gate changes or snake bites or flesh wounds? I imagine he follows the spark of intrigue down whatever path tempts him, sees the world for what it is, not its rare and gruesome possibilities. With my brain bound and gagged, I am free to be Shawn, and I realize suddenly the weight of my dysfunction and long to exchange it for his.
But my dysfunction has its uses. Obsession has brought us to this time and place; it made the reservations and did the packing. In turn, Shawn will tell me to spend an extra few minutes watching tree frogs and howler monkeys. He puts his hand on my leg.
He smirks. I would. Trending Videos View All Videos. Sponsored On the road with Uncle Russ May 3, Faka'apa'apa Apr 22, Top Regions. New Hampshire. North Carolina. Puerto Rico. United States. Top Cities View All Destinations. Buenos Aires. Dallas-Fort Worth. Mexico City. Trending Regions. Trending Cities. Our Trips. Travel Map. About Matador Careers Advertise. Our Trips Newsletter Contribute. What did you think of this story? Trending Now. The best meteor shower of the year is here. These are the top airlines in the world for The optimal road trip to see all the US national parks, mapped.
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