Wednesday, October 27, 2010

White-Knuckle

Everyone has something that creeps them out, I suppose, and mine is travel.

Trying to process why, I've found two things that contribute, though I suspect they are related:

First, I do not cope all that well with the unfamiliar; it takes me days to start to be comfortable in a new place. The family vacation of my youth, based on making at least 500 miles a day by car and rarely spending a week in one place, was a sublimely disorienting and unpleasant experience. Closer to home, even large stores space me out; through the years, I'll pick one location on the Target/Wall-Mart axis for all my big-box shopping, and even then, I'm pretty dazed by the time I get to the checkout. (Sports stadiums are a nightmare, especially with a crowd in them. I do reach my target heart rate pretty quickly....) Our recent BlogMeet at Claddagh? It wasn't 'til the walk back out that I really had a good look around at the place. "Vacations" I have been able to make a short trip and stay in one place for an extended period of time, it's not been so bad; but the bulk of those were tech schools, and by choice, my routine didn't include sightseeing.

Second, driving. The freeway has never been my favorite, but it's getting worse. Maybe it was the series of minor wrecks in '06, '07, and '08, which respectively messed up my right knee and wiped out two (nearly disposable, I admit) '02 Hyundai Accents, but I have become risk-averse behind the wheel to a terrible extent. I recently had occasion to put in about 30 miles on the freeway, in the dark, at speeds in the 55 to 65 mph range, and I had to keep reminding myself to loosen my grip on the wheel: I was holding on so tightly, I was getting hand cramps. Some of that's got to be from still driving a tiny Accent, this one in worse shape than its predecessors, as opposed to, say, the used '81 XJ-6 my ex and I owned; older Accents are entirely adequate city cars but on an interstate, they feel very fragile. I've not been able to afford contact lenses since I bought this house (in hindsight, a very bad idea, given the way the economy and housing prices crashed afterward) and with eyeglasses, my peripheral vision is essentially non-existent; without a lot of conscious effort, merging traffic can come as a surprise. (It's amusing to me when the better sighted remark on how much I look around, trying to keep track when traffic is merging in from all sides -- they do it, too, but their visual field is a lot wider).

Whatever the reasons, I hope to avoid any travel that's not absolutely necessary. Maybe it broadens horizons for most people, but it narrows mine.

9 comments:

Ed Skinner said...

My work has be "out" almost as much as I'm "in" some months.
When my wife asked me where I wanted to go in retirement I said, "the grocery." That's plenty far.

You might want to avoid IKEA.

LauraB said...

I can commiserate...detest large events, even moderately popolated parties. Too many voices, too much movement, and too much out of my control. I find a corner, smile and nod.

My driving comfort, mentally, improved mightily with the SUV...

Our small town life and easy commute suit me just fine, thanks.

LabRat said...

You would have liked my father's idea of a family vacation, which was always the same place, with the general aim being achieving a location in which dinner was someone else's responsibility, the kids had ready sources of amusement he was likewise not responsible for, and he finally had time to read all he wanted.

Justthisguy said...

Wanna go to Autreat with me next near?

DirtCrashr said...

I want to cross the Italian Alps on tiny little empty roads while riding a Vespa. That's travel. Driving around America is not travel.
I avoid concerts and large-volume people-events - like going to the movies, I just hate crowds (and nasty upholstery) so I miss a lot of "everyone was there" kinda things, but happily.

Joseph said...

Don't like long distance vacations because of the expense and inconvience. Not to mention I have 3 small dogs that need to be taken care of. There is plenty I can do here, thanks. And air travel...used to work for an airline, had plenty of it. Don't like large crowds, mostly, either.

John B said...

the travel that fires my dreams to this day. Big old Detroit Iron, usually a 1969 Cadillac DeVille. 2500 miles of open road. Twenty-five years later, maybe I'm too ill, fat, jittery....

...I think though, that most of the things in my life that plague me could be cured by a big car, and the open road.

I realize that you are different than I. How can you be so bally brave as to climb up an antenna tower, then flinch at a little interstate calisthenics?

Davidwhitewolf said...

Likely because on the tower, she controls the level of danger by her actions. While driving, it's her fellow drivers who control that level.

John A said...

peripheral vision - Yeah.

But the last time I bought glasses, I circumvented, at least to some degree, the lack of same defined by my glasses. Looking over case after case of what looked like one-inch-diagonal "granny" styles, I saw one that even bigger than the ones I have worn for over fifty years. And they work, again to some extent - I can actually see my feet without deliberately looking down, and more to either side.

What I did not realise - they were sunglass frames. I actually did not know this until I picked up the glasses at the optometrist's office after his lab had installed the lenses. The THIRD set - the first had a chip, the second were not quite prescription: seems the lens manufacturer had problems with such large ones...