I just returned from a very long airplane transit. The total transit time was 30 hours one way. The last leg was at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., where I had a 5 and a half hour layover. I don’t sleep very well on airplanes, that is in an economy seat.. . . I don’t know about you. . . actually I probably do. You don’t either. So when I arrived in D.C., I was weary to the point of overload. I had been around 200+ people in small confined spaces, at that time for over 20 hours without a break.
Lucky for me, I had packed a sari to use as a blanket. It was silk, so it was lightweight, warm and long enough to cover all of me at one time, as opposed to those airline blankets where you have to choose, feet or shoulders.
I also had a roll aboard with me, with an extended handle. I found a at a quiet gate with a set of four seats in a row without arms to separate them. They were lightly padded with an emphasis on lightly as most airport seats are.
I laid down across the seats and pulled the suitcase close to me with the handle raised. I draped the sari over the handle and put my head beneath that part of the tent. Then I covered the rest of my body with the rest of the sari. I disappeared under it for three hours. Although I only slept for about 1/2 that time, the visual break was amazingly calming. And, lest I forget for those of you who worry about what others think (and still can worry after essentially being awake for over 33 hours), at one point the sari fell off of my legs. As I scrabbled blindly for an edge to restore the complete cocoon, someone walking by reached down and covered me back up.
I am committed to recreating that experience every time I travel, making myself a private space where I don’t have to react or control my facial expressions or continue to interact with others even in a limited but conscious way. Occupying shared space demands that kind of attention. Removing yourself for a moment relieves it.
Today, I found this.
Frankly, it’s not as good as my end arrangement but the portability of it is intriguing. Private space in our increasingly crowded world.