Someday I hope to travel without a week of sickening dread that I will do something egregiously wrong in the process. I figure if I can just do it ENOUGH I will come to accept it as a grand adventure, instead of a labyrinth of half-understood public transit options punctuated by moments of breathtaking scenery.
I want to be a world traveler. I want to be that calm person who just wanders across Europe with a rail pass and a backpack of clothes that can be packed for six weeks without wrinkling. I want to speak familiarly of markets in both Bangkok and Berlin.
I just am not very good at it. Anxiety problems tend to manifest for me as a terrible fear that I am Doing It Wrong and if I don’t know all the unwritten rules, I am sure to be Wrong and I will say something that will mortally offend someone because Americans seem to have a natural talent for that and even though I was given dispensation by my friend Heather to pretend to be Canadian while traveling because I apologize instinctively and can dig a car out of deep snow, thereby qualifying for at least honorary protective status, there are so many, many unwritten rules.
The only solution seems to be to keep trying as often as my budget will allow. And to go with people who know all the rules already, or who have that mystical gift of making friends with total strangers, which I envy but do not at all possess.