They say war is “interminable boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” I’m not saying airports are even close parallels, but certainly that quote comes to mind. As the date of my departure neared, my dreams became preoccupied by visions of forgotten passports, hostile customs officials, and the dreaded missed flight.
The entire morning prior to my study abroad group’s flight, despite visiting the Morgan Library and preoccupying ourselves with tacos and Mexican coke, my father and I could think of little else but my impending departure to Russia. We had come to New York a couple of days before the group flight to Saint Petersburg via Moscow, and had enjoyed our visit to the city remarkably. As the hour of my flight approached, however, we both became live wires. The taxi ride to the airport became a combination of boredom, and mental review: “Laptop? Check. Toiletries? Check. Gifts for my host parents? Check, check, check.” In the relative silence of the car, a symphony of anxieties reached their crescendo in each of our minds. It didn’t help that I didn’t have my passport on my person, but was to receive it along with a fresh Russian visa upon arrival at JFK airport, Queens. Yeah, that’s how Russia does visas. They take your passport and return it to you over a month later – essentially at their leisure. So, that caused a bit of internal stir. Upon arriving at JFK, we learned that they were weighing carry-on luggage. Another heart attack. I had no clue whether my little blue rollaboard would suddenly upset all of my careful packing. I prayed that they wouldn’t consider my coat carry-on luggage, as at this point I had shoved 8 books in my various pockets, and it nearly weighed as much as my backpack itself.
And? Nothing. Everything’s great, and I am writing this now only somewhat frantically from my gate.
I’ve met all the folks in my group – they’re a mix of students from Bard (the college organizing my study abroad at their partner, Smolny, in Saint Petersburg), American, Harvard, and Georgetown. We Hoyas form something of kabal, but not out of the others’ enmity: everyone’s been eager to meet and connect. The challenging nature of our journey produces something of a natural joviality. I hope this spirit continues, and is matched by our Russian classmates in Peter.
Already, I miss my family, girlfriend, and friends, who remain stateside. Although I am enthusiastic about the adventure that awaits me, the distance from home, and duration of visit, are unprecedented in my life. Curiosity and trepidation engulf me. At least for the moment there is the relief of boredom.