I feel like I have been defined by flight. By Qantas. That Platinum card (actually it’s down to Gold now).
I’ve been traveling for work since 2005. I left my job in the lab on a Wednesday morning and flew to Singapore that afternoon for sales training. And I haven’t really stopped flying since.
To me, booking a flight has become second nature. Cabs are just a way to get to the plane. Planes are my office, my bed, my living room, my school. I read on planes, I sleep, I listen to music. I watch TV, I write emails, I plan campaigns, I strategise. Before the plane takes off, I speak to coworkers, to family and to friends.
I write stories on planes (I’m writing this on a plane). I edit photos on my phone. I talk to the people next to me. I stare out at the clouds or at the dark night sky.
I can’t imagine how many hours of my life have been whittled away in airplanes and airports, in taxis and ubers. Last week alone, it was more than 16 hours in just 4 days.
It’s such an alien concept to a lot of people. And most people who don’t do it on the day-to-day have zero idea what it’s really like. They think it’s fun and glamorous. That you’re always living it up. But it’s incredibly tiring. It’s a lot of your time just used up. It’s missed events at home. It’s amazing to be up hurtling through the air at hundreds of kilometers per hour. It’s very lonely. It’s boring. It’s peaceful. It’s serene. There have been days when it’s exhilarating. And days when it’s a nightmare.
Being away from home is a whole other story for another time.
I was once asked in some survey “where do you feel most at home” and my answer, without thought or hesitation was “the Qantas Lounge”. Can you believe it? Crazy.
Of course it’s not all bad. I’ve met amazing people and made lifelong friends (a couple of kindred spirits along the way – I am SO lucky), I’ve seen wonderful cities and I’ve learnt all sorts of new science. I’ve photographed some very cool places and things.
But I’m tired. It’s exhausting. And apart from seeing my clients overjoyed when they see their robot dance, it can sometimes be thankless and uninspiring.
So now, I have to tell you : I am no longer the frequent flying scientist. I have to take a deep breath when I say that.
No longer the frequent flying scientist.
And a little bit scary.
I’m still a scientist. I think I’ll always be a scientist at heart. (I hate when people call sugar a poison and talk about the “chemicals” in their food). But I’m no longer a sales person. And no longer traveling for work. I am moving to a desk job! I can make mid-week plans! I haven’t done that in more than 12 years.
I’m really happy. But feeling quite nostalgic. I believe that your life is made up of the people who you meet and the people who you connect with. And that’s always the very hardest thing about leaving somewhere. You aren’t really leaving the place, or leaving the job. You are leaving the people. And with the people you’re closest to, it can be rough. Really rough. There are a very select few people that I’m very sad to be leaving behind, but they are my people. And it breaks my heart a little.
But we will be ok.
For the most part, this transition is exciting. Oh and it’s terrifying. But it’s definitely a welcome thing to no longer be defined by flight.
I will miss that red kangaroo.
But you know what?
I can’t wait to start the next chapter.