It was eight-fifteen a.m. on a Tuesday when I first realized what a uniquely brilliant traveler I am. I happened to be with another uniquely brilliant traveler; the great Ruba Audeh. We were headed to Florida to hang out with the Palm Trees for a week.
Ruba and I are expert travelers due in part, to having foreign parents that deem it perfectly acceptable to send their six-year-olds on solo cross-continental flights. We’ve been traveling alone since we were in diapers. Parents: The best thing you can do is force your small child to get on a plane without you. This is how world-class travelers are made. But hey. I can’t give our borderline neglectful parents all the credit for outrageous talent. Rubes and I emerged from the womb naturally gluttonous sluts who love a good excuse to indulge our inner hedonist. And airports and hedonism go together seamlessly, like nosebleeds and cocaine (or better yet; short fuses and Adderall prescriptions)!
Cut to 7:55 a.m. on a Tuesday a few years back. I’m wearing liquid leggings and a powder blue cropped sweater. Ruba’s bathed in cashmere. We look both fabulously cheap and stunningly expensive at once. AKA: fashion. Meghan is wearing shiny black pants and a shiny black moto jacket — the one part of travel she’s naturally descent at is dressing well. (I could never date a lousy dresser, could you?)
Anyway. We have just under two hours until we have to board the plane. That’s the thing. There is no such thing as getting to the airport too early. It’s so much better to breeze through security with zero stress and zero frenetic energy. Frenetic energy will age you worse than tanning beds. Plus, now we have all of this splendid time to play in the newly remodeled Jet Blue terminal of the ultra glamorous La Guardia airport. I eye a chic-looking restaurant with iPads at every seat. Fab.
“Let’s get breakfast.” I chirp to the girls.
“Really, babe? We can’t just get Starbucks?” Meghan whines.
“Abso-fucking-lutely.” Ruba enthuses, ignoring Meghan. I ignore her too. Meghan is sharp so quickly realizes she’s outnumbered and submits. We strut like round, short supermodels into the restaurant, our gaits confident and direct, like prized show ponies. The bartender explains that we can order whatever we want off the iPads. We don’t even have to talk to anyone, which I love as I’m wildly allergic to small talk (on the contrary I’m amazing at talking about things like rape and suicide). The menu has everything a gluttonous girl could ever dream of. Bagels with lox. Caprese salads. Cobb salads. Cheese burgers. Cheese boards. Steak.
“What are you getting?” I ask the group.
“Definitely the burger.” Ruba says, the unapologetic certainty in her voice strikes me as rather masculine. Masculinity on men, I’m not huge a fan of, but I love it on women.
“Same.” I growl lowering my voice a good three octaves.
“It’s not even 8 a.m.” Meghan buzz kills.
We both ignore her. “Let’s get a wine.” I say twisting a lock of freshly inserted weave around my pinkie finger.
A wicked glimmer radiates from deep within Ruba’s chocolate-colored eyes. “Hell. Yes.”
Meghan exhales deeply. She knows she’s offically fucked.
“Should we get a six ounce glass of wine or a nine ounce glass of wine?” Ruba asks even though we both know the answer better than we’ve ever known anything in our lives.
I shoot her a twisted smile. She shoots me one back. Meghan gets shot in the chest with the bullet of our decadence and throws her hands up in the air. “Really, babe?”
“Don’t ‘really babe’ me.”
Five minutes later two mega glasses of wine appear. They look like roman goblets and are filled to the rim. Ruba and I clink glasses and both take a long, slow, sip.
“I love a sauv in the morning.”
We take a selfie, post it to insta and forget for a moment that poor Meghan is there. Oops.
Ten minutes after that two voluptuous burgers are placed in front of us. They’re adorned with fire-engine red tomatoes and melted cheddar cheese the color of the sun. My mouth waters. I dig the fuck in.
“We’re really good at traveling.” I purr seductively.
“So good.” Ruba muses polishing off her wine. “I’m ordering us another glass.”
“You girls travel like frat guys. Bankers with corporate accounts. So much meat and booze and money spent, my god. A glass of wine is like $22 bucks.”
“Money is of no object to moi when I travel,” I say, the realization washing over me as the words rocket out of my mouth. It’s true. What softens the harrowing, ever-inconvenient nature of aircraft travel like good old-fashioned retail therapy? Nothing, sweetheart. This is why I have so many pairs of sunglasses. Airports always have a dope “Sunglass Hut” or one of its competitors whose name I can’t recall.
Ruba bites into her burger in a way that’s almost sexual. “Also you can eat whatever the fuck you want when you travel.”
“Yes. Calories don’t count.” I add because I’m a problematic child of the 90s who grew up diligently counting the calories in her perfectly measured dose of honey bunches of oats — but whatever I was hot and thin (aka happy) before the body positivity movement swept across the internet and ruined all the fun.
“That’s right little Z. And you can have as much wine as you dang please.” Ruba croons. (She’s been saying “dang” for years and I’ve never understood it, but hey. You have to let bitches live their truths, in this “one and only precious life.”)
Glass number two magically lands on our table. And boy is she good looking. Liquid gold.
“Screw it. I’m getting a bloody Mary.” Meghan uncrosses her legs and stretches em’ open so wide they extend beyond the confines of her chair. She’s what the kids call “man-spreading” which is yet another display of unabashed masculinity that repulses me on men but excites me on women.
“Yas!” Ruba cheers because she’s got a gay brother thus can’t physically twist her lips around the word “yes.”
“Yas!” I cheer because my brother isn’t gay but I am thus can’t physically twist my lips around the word “yes.”
Two bloody Mary’s and three nine-ounce glasses of wine later it’s time to board the plane. Instead of being anxious or annoyed by all the peasants huddling around us fumbling to squeeze their oversized tote bags into the overhead compartment, we are as cheery as can be.
“Sir, do you need a hand with your bag?” I chirp merrily to an elderly man.
“Lethsss watch ‘Sex & The City’ on my laptop.” Ruba slurs.
“Yes, leths.” I slur back.
“That’s a great idea,” Meghan chimes in which renders me so shocked it rushes like an electrical current through my entire body. I’ve never heard her use “great idea” and “Sex & The City” in the same sentence, ever. See what I’m saying? Alcohol in semi-moderate doses can render even a genetically combative Bronx girl agreeable.
We cuddle up in our seats and direct our eyes to Ruba’s laptop. Samantha appears on the screen. “Fuck me badly once, shame on you. Fuck me badly twice, shame on me.” She lectures in that iconic sex-kitten way that makes it sound like she’s winking with her voice.
We order more wine. We nap on each other’s shoulders. We gush over Carrie’s outfits in Sex & The City. And by the time we land we’re in the jolliest of moods. And let me tell you something about having a jolly mood. This might be the most important lesbian big sister lesson I ever teach you, so pay attention. A jolly mood is so contagious that even the universe catches on and proceeds to reward you by granting you jolly little gifts. For example, our bags were the first on the carousel. Had we arrive haggard and irritable our luggage would’ve been lost. My dad didn’t have to circle around the airport 500 times — his car pulled up the exact moment we stepped out of the airport. It wasn’t even humid. In Florida! If that’s not some jolly universe magic, I don’t know what is babe.
So yes. This is how I travel always. I arrive several hours early to the airport, I booze, I eat a damn burger, I buy myself something unnecessary but special like a bottle of fragrance or some cute Ray Bans, I indulge in a trashy book (a Joan Collins book is my go-to travel companion) or watch something breezy like a Bravo reality show or Sex & The City, and then I land all sunny inside and then the universe grants me a sunny little trip! Even if I’m traveling for work I never let my travel style waver. One time Dayna and I were shipped off to Palm Springs to cover a famous lesbian pool party and I forced her to wear a matching hot pink tracksuit with me, get wine-hammered and chew down some sexy red meat. She had the time of her life! And that bitch told me she was afraid of flying. That she has anxiety attacks on planes. Not that time, honey. When you travel with big sis Z, you could have a certified panic disorder and still be as cool as a cucumber. If someone challenges my luxurious travel style and tries to drag me down with them, I ditch them. I refuse to let anyone dim my light like that, and you should to. You can’t allow other people’s neuroses to steamroll your good vibes. It’s part of protecting your fucking sparkle.
So little sister, that’s how you travel like Zara and Ruba. Be indulgent. Spread your legs open wide like an entitled white man. Eat, drink and spend money, honey. And if you get delayed; don’t get all melodramatic, okay? It’s not that big of a deal, I swear to Lana Del Rey. There are millions of people all over the world who would die to travel, so don’t act all uppity because you have to spend a whopping six hours in an airport. Talk about a privileged problem! Oh poor thing has to spend time in a glorified shopping mall with planes that take off and whisk people to exotic destinations? How utterly tragic!
Yesterday I had five hours to kill in Charlotte, North Carolina where I was to change planes. I was on two hours of sleep. I was seeing stars. But did I melt down? Did I fret? Was I a raging bitch being short with the slow-moving magazine shop-keeper? Hell to the no. I went to the “Whiskey Inn” ordered my signature nine-ounce wine (it was 7:30 a.m.) and a cheese omelet and eavesdropped on all the cute southern conversations happening all around me. “I told y’all I would slash his damn tires if I busted his ass cheatin’ on me again!” A blonde cheerleader type roared to her friends whilst pounding a big glass of foamy beer. It was heavenly. All travel is heavenly. Hashtag blessed.
Oh and one last rule. You are never to work on the plane. You are to read, crossword puzzle, doodle, mad-lib, TV binge, sheet-mask or talk shit with your friend/coworker — but that’s it. For the plane is a rare reprieve from this workaholic over-connected culture we live in. And that is the *real* reason why I love traveling so much. It’s an escape from reality. Nothing can touch you when you are flying thousands of feet high in the pretty blue sky.
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