I made it onto the plane in New York. It wasn’t a close call but it still wasn’t extremely pleasant navigating the million
different hallways, escalators, and moving sidewalks of JFK at a brisk clip.
Culture shock began on the plane. I flew Royal Jordanian on a direct flight to Amman, Jordan. The hallway to the plane smelled like urine, as did the plane itself. It wasn’t too strong and I guess had my imagination been apt enough I could have convinced myself it actually smelled like grape juice. Both urine and grape juice are key ingredients and products of children, of which there must have been at least fifty, all sitting in close proximity to myself. This is one of the things I had forgotten about travelling in the Middle East: there are kids everywhere, and the strategy for child rearing differs, the result being that children are also obnoxious.
I sat next to a child on the plane, but luckily she was very quiet and probably more scared of me than anything else. I encouraged this. But there were some screamers. They took it in turns: once one child stopped crying another began. There were some points when I thought about offering up my own child management strategies, which involve gently placing both hands around the neck of the offending child and squeezing until they stop crying.
Luckily we made it through with no deaths and only two people vomiting within earshot upon touchdown. The flight was a total of eleven hours and because of my signature method of traveling slightly dehydrated I didn’t have to leave my seat even once. I realized halfway through that this was my first time flying completely solo beginning a transatlantic journey, and I had a “don’t look down” moment, like if I stopped to think about how ridiculous it was that I was traveling hours across the world by myself I would implode or wet myself or something.