I board the plane wearing my puffy, ankle-length winter coat and flip flops. (My feet usually swell to Shrek-sized feet on international flights. Any type of shoes that cover the tops of my feet don't fit after the flight.) The flight attendant asks me, "Do you know that it is winter in Beijing?! Look at your shoes!" I think, "Lady, look at my huge, freakin' coat! There is not a passenger on this plane with a coat as puffy and large as the one draped around my body. You're concerned about my inadequate shoes?" I don't have the energy to explain about my Shrek-feet problem or the fact that I had comfy tennis shoes safely tucked away in my suitcase.
I don't know why I thought renting only three movies would be enough to entertain me for a flight from L.A. to China. My iPad is now dead, anyway. There are no outlets on this flight. Also, there aren't t.v. screens on the backs of the headrests. Dia notices this fact about fifteen minutes after we board. The only other time I have seen her face in such a state of disarray was when she realized that Santa Clause isn't a real person.
I don't think I've slept more than half an hour. Dia and I take strolls about the cabin, stretching our arms overhead until they scrape the plastic ceiling above us. We bend over, reach down and touch our toes, while staying out of the way of people hanging onto their groggy kids. I grasp my ankles while I'm upside down to see if the swelling has occurred yet. Dia says my feet look big already, but in my defense, I'm wearing larger socks than usual to allow room for the swell.
A fellow traveler, who Dia sits next to on the flight, promises to take us to the best duck place during our trip. (Apparently, the duck here is the bee's knees! I'll let you know.) When Dia explains what we are flying to Beijing for and who we are performing with, he says, "Wow, you guys must be really good!" "Well," Dia begins, and dusts off both her shoulders with a sarcastic grin as though our talents were simply natural gifts bestowed on us from birth. Then her expression turns serious, and she answers with the truth, "We've just been doing this for a really long time."
She's been traveling solo a lot lately, performing on "The Voice" in a whole slew of other countries besides the U.S. Before we boarded the plane, as we walked through the airport terminal, lugging our suitcases and guitars, she looked over at Carlo and Matt, our new sound guy, walking a few paces ahead of us. She said, "Wow, this kind of feels like tour again. I have people with me this time." I just smiled.
It is tour again. A strange phenomenon that we've experienced so many times it feels more normal than staying home, even though I haven't been on the road for a year or longer.
Just like riding a bicycle. It all comes back once you set your feet on the petals and start pushing and hope you don't fall over.
That hot dumpling soup and a nice warm bed where I can lay my tired body out flat are sounding nice right now.