Seriously though, I felt like a king on my flight back to New York. If you’ve read my posts about transportation in Togo you’ll sort of understand why. I couldn’t believe it. I had a big soft cushiony seat. All to my self. There weren’t 6 people within 5 square feet of me. No crying children on my lap, nor women breastfeeding their babies right next to me (I’m not joking, I wrote this post a few days ago and just went over it before officially posting it, and had to add this little tidbit in cause that literally just happened to me 5 hours ago. Talk about awkward. Apparently she’s seen the latest issue of TIME). The lady next to me didn’t have 4 live chickens in her hand bag, and I didn’t feel like the vehicle I was in was going to fall apart and crash into a tree at any moment. So, for me, this ‘lowly’ coach seat was far from uncomfortable, I was in travel heaven.
There were beautiful women waiting on me hand and foot (Seriously, British Airways has some hot flight attendants. And they were just as good looking on my flight back to Togo after a month in America, so you can’t just blame it on the fact that I had only seen 6 American girls total in the year before that). They were giving me free booze and asking me if I wanted three cheese ravioli or beef over brown rice with vegetables. I realize that most of you are reading this thinking, ‘Eww, airplane food is terrible, I wouldn’t serve that shit to my dog.’ I mean thats pretty much a universal truth right? Right next to death, taxes, and that a trip to the DMV is sure to make you want to shoot yourself in the face. I now realize this after spending a month in the ‘real world’, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. But at this point, after eating a diet consisting of nothing but rice, beans, pounded yams, and thick, gooey, flavorless grits, with the occasional treat of dried fish or chunk of mystery bush meat, I felt like I was eating at a Michelin starred restaurant. Seriously? Three cheese ravioli? Thats two and a half more cheeses than I’ve had in the past year. I sat there trying as hard as I could to not just scarf it all down like a gluttonous madman. But you bet your ass I practically licked those little plastic and tin containers clean. Peeking my head over to the people sitting next to me, eyes wide and hopeful, and probably just a bit crazed looking, like ‘Hey man… you gonna use that butter packet?’
And it didn’t end there. I had my own personal TV? With direct TV and movies? Shiiiiit, if I walked down the street in Togo and some roadside shack was playing a dubbed in French version of Godzilla from the 70’s on a TV that was even older(Stop laughing, I’ve actually done that. Multiple times. Give me a break, its apparently the only movie they have there), I was fucking enthralled by it. So having my own personal ‘entertainment system’ was pretty awesome.
And the bathrooms? Don’t even get me started on the bathrooms. Actual flushing toilets with working sinks, fully equipped with soap, toilet paper, and paper towels? After spending a solid 30% of the past year… moving my bowels, in Togolese ‘bathrooms’ I was pretty goddam excited by this. Yes. I know. I warned you at the beginning of this that Togo has made me weird and culturally inappropriate. And if you’ve read anything else that I’ve written, you know that pooping, shitting, diarrhea, toilets etc. is a big part of my life here, and therefore a big part of what you get to read about when you ask me for any ‘exciting and crazy stories about Africa’. So shut up and deal with my shit or stop reading(bad pun intended). Seriously though, at that point, those little airplane bathrooms were glorious.
At first I think I was just in my own little world, soaking in every little bit of this awesome high class experience as I could, but by the second leg of the trip I started to catch onto the fact that I was pretty much the only one enjoying the trip and little airplane meals as much as I was. I quickly realized that everyone else was cautiously and very apprehensively picking around at their little tin containers of food. More so just pushing things back and forth with scrunched up noses, and looks of expected disappointment on their faces than actually consuming anything. And honestly, I kind of felt bad for them, aaaand kind of wanted to ask them if I could have their leftovers.
But fast-forward about a month and I was one of them. After being pampered half to death by the glory that is America; Cold micro-brews, bacon cheese burgers, sushi, air conditioning, maple syrup, pizza, bacon, paved roads, bloody marys, real Mexican food, bacon, italian delis, bacon (I kind of have an obsession with food if you haven’t caught on to that yet, I actually gained like 15 lbs. during the month that I was home, and I genuinely thank all who had a part in that). Back to the story though, my flight back was nowhere near as great and luxurious as the flight from Africa. It was still British Airways (and yes, the air hostesses were still really hot), but that extra something, that sense of wide eyed wonderment and blissful excitment was long gone. And it made me realize something, those flights were pretty much identical, they didn’t have shittier bathrooms on the way back, the food was of the exact same quality, and the seats definitely hadn’t shrunk in size, but my experience couldn’t have been more different. On the way back I felt like I had been downgraded to a dark musty third class interior room at the bottom of the Titanic.
What I realized though, was that sometimes, it has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have, but your ability to appreciate what you have when you have it, rather than constantly comparing it to something better. After all, chances are that your seemingly inadequate situation, is actually someone else’s idea of first class.
Be grateful for what you have, and just maybe you’ll get the chance do a little tapdancing on tabletops while you’re at it.