Irrational Adventures in the Comfort Zone
Posted on July 11, 2013
I remember my first trip to Hong Kong and being completely overwhelmed and in culture shock. My husband’s grandmother suggested we take a day trip over the border into mainland China, a city called Shenzen. This is before Shenzen was given—or so I’ve since heard—a much-needed facelift. To say I was apprehensive about going there is an understatement and to say I was borderline paranoid about getting the hell back to Hong Kong after several hours there is a kindness considering how I really felt. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident and I don’t have to be overseas to experience it. It would seem that I have two settings; Kris in his comfort zone and Kris outside his comfort zone and nothing in between.
This bothers me. It truly does. I went to college on the west side of the state and while I had a car and friends who had cars, I never traveled much around the route I’d drive home. Unless, of course, I was going to a movie in Grand Rapids or stopping by a music store. Those were considered necessities in college existence. The beach is apparently very close to the school, yet I never went in five years. Never had the desire to and I think it’s because I didn’t know where it was. If I didn’t know where it was, then I might get lost. Getting lost = panic. I playfully blame my father for this because while he had a phenomenal sense of direction, I don’t. And when we were up north and I panicked because I didn’t know where I was, it amused him and he’d say “We’re bound to run into a road somewhere.” It’s a damn good thing I hadn’t watched Wrong Turn back then.
It hasn’t improved much these days, though I have a GPS with me at all times. Some of you know that I attend conventions as a guest and as a fan. What you don’t know is that once I’m at my hotel or the series of hotels where the convention is held, I don’t leave. The mere thought of stepping out of the general area sends my head into a spin. Do you know that it took me until my 8th year at DragonCon before I ate meals outside the hotels? Aside from when my friend Dr. Joey (who lives in Atlanta) would pick me up and we’d go to the gay area of town for lunch, that is.
Even at OutlantaCon, once I’m at the hotel, the thought of heading anywhere outside the area freaks me out. Why do I need to leave? Everything I want is right there. Right? That’s my sad little thought process. I attended the WEHO Book Fair with G.A. Hauser a couple of years ago. I landed, took a shuttle to the hotel, met up with her, then we proceeded to gear things up for the following day. The awesome thing about G.A. is she loves to explore. “Do you want to go to the beach? Do you want to drive down and see what’s around?” Not so much. I wanted to nest and stay comfortable, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t get lost. Hell, I’d even printed out maps with everywhere we needed to be clearly marked on them. Yes, I’m a planner.
I don’t even like going to downtown Detroit here. Well, really, who does right now? Oddly enough, though, I’m perfectly fine and at home in Manhattan. I’m laughing right now, but I almost wonder if it has to do with the way the streets are numbered. It’s literally damn near impossible to get lost there and I can’t remember having a single panic attack of “where am I???” during any visit. Then, too, I went to San Diego to spend the weekend with the hubby over a weekend and we had no agenda. There was nowhere we needed to be and nothing we had to do, so I was completely relaxed. Same with Key West, though it’s difficult to get lost in Key West.
It’s irrational and doesn’t make any sense. Worst of all, I realize it’s irrational and doesn’t make any sense. The best I’ve been able to do is tell myself that if I’m traveling out by plane, then there’s really nothing I can do about it. I’m going to be in a certain location for a specified amount of time. As long as I leave a buffer zone for anything I do need to do, then I should be okay. Convincing myself of that is a whole other matter, but I do try.
I am understandably curious to know if anybody else has ever dealt with this or something else as irrational as this. How did you cope with it? Did you ever overcome it? How?
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
11 Responses to “Irrational Adventures in the Comfort Zone”
July 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm
You don’t have to fear getting lost here in LA. You’re bound to run into a freeway!
July 15, 2013 at 10:39 am
Ah, you assume I’d know what those freeways are! I know the ones around here and, sadly, that’s about it.
Patricia Logan says:
July 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm
I like vacationing and traveling on familiar ground. Because I live in California, the beaches are mandatory visitation spots, that and the fact that I grew up surfing before and after school nine months out of the year and three months baking in the sun all summer long. I had to take the bus before I could drive and the bus is a pretty straight shot down Beach Blvd. all the way to Huntington Beach so it’s hard to get lost. Once I had my car, wow, total freedom and I, like Amanda, love to explore, so I went here and there.
Once I had a family, we branched out, taking a lot of road trips to various national parks where we camped with the kids (when we had no money) and then to Hawaii over and over (when we had money). I found that there are a few places that are easy for me to navigate. One is Hawaii as long as you stick to the main roads and the other is San Francisco (if you have a guide, it’s easier because of the one way streets) but like you say, everything is laid out on a grid.
As far as a foreign country, forget it. Did you know that they don’t speaka de english in those places? Pfft. The hell with that. My worst nightmare is ending up in a Turkish prison because someone asked me to help their grandma through the line at the airport and it turns out that grandma’s name is Omar and he’s packing 100 of hashish on his person. No Thank You, Sir. That kind of stuff happens. At least I’ve been telling my Persian husband that for 28 years. He still can’t (and never will) get me on a plane to visit the homeAli’s.
I get you, Kris. I totally get you.
CR Guiliano says:
July 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Hmm, I thinking Hawaii would be pretty easy not to get lost…just keep going and you’ll run into ocean eventually. lolol 😛 Sorry, Patti! Couldn’t resist!!
July 15, 2013 at 10:41 am
My husband has gotten lost going to work in St. Thomas. The island is perhaps 12 square miles.
I ended up being faced with a dilemma this past Saturday. Was driving to the airport to pick honorable husband up and the freeway had construction. It went down to 1 lane and a major, major back-up. I took the next exit, headed where I thought there’d be a road I recognized and made my way from there. Also turned on the GPS and surmised an imaginary address for the airport.
Only got there 20 minutes late.
JP Adkins says:
July 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm
I don’t travel much, but when I do I tend to have a plan and stick to it. It is not so much the worry that I will get lost (I have driven with Patricia Nelson). It is the fact that I don’t know what is around and normally am not away long enough to truly explore.
July 15, 2013 at 10:42 am
Now see, whenever my hubby gets lost, he just changes where it is he wants to go. It’s kind of irritating.
CR Guiliano says:
July 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Surprisingly, you just described what I go through whenever I have to go somewhere new. A place I am unfamiliar with and boy do I think about getting lost! I have a comfort zone. It’s within 3 miles of my house (and the 20 miles to work on a designated route). Amything else, and my heart is pounding and I’m freaking out.
I MUST have maps and indicated routes to go ANYWHERE I have never been. I’m working on the ones for Atlanta as we speak. 😉
…and you wonder why I tell you I will cling to you the whole weekend. *nods*
I do not know the cause, and certainly not the solution, especially as my experience travelling is so far removed from your own, it’s a wonder I’ve ever been anywhere.
Great post Kris!! <3
July 15, 2013 at 10:43 am
You’ll love Atlanta. And yes, I carry a map of the area with me just in case. If I’m feeling turned around, then I just pull out the ol’ map. It’s a peace of mind thing.
Petra Bond says:
July 17, 2013 at 6:02 am
Whilst you were writing this post I was circling a hotel in Manchester trying to find which of the many one way roads would get me to the hotel car park which had its on post code for the sat nav but which my machine helpfully said did not exist! Finally asked for directions when car park was 50 yards in front of me!
And I hate places I don’t know! And people! And foreigners! And spiders!
July 17, 2013 at 8:46 am
Yikes. My parents took me to see a magician many years ago when I was in grade school. They couldn’t find the place, couldn’t find it, couldn’t find and they’d started to bicker. I was in grade school at the time. I just happened to look out the window and announced “I know where it is.”
My parents were then annoyed with me because how could I possibly know?
Because we were in the parking lot of the place and I’d read it on the side of the building.