As everybody’s Life Cardio starts to come back, post-pandemic, I have realized that there are subtypes of Life Cardio. My weak point, right now, is Travel Cardio.

Back in the Before Times, I used to spend maybe one week out of every six traveling, either for work or for pleasure. It was great. I had routines. I was practiced. I love to travel and was taking full advantage of all opportunities.

I know this isn’t the most common view, but I am one of those people who loves travel so much that I even love business travel. It is the most adult-feeling thing I get to do on any kind of regular basis that feels good. Wearing business casual and walking through the airport to get on a plane that someone else is paying for so that I can go to another city to do something I’m good at? There is some A-plus, grown-up swagger going on. It’s what I imagined being a successful adult would feel like when I was 10. 

I also love hotel rooms. Get into the room, unpack my grown-up shirts and set out my grown-up toiletries and arrange all my travel chargers? Heaven. No idea why. Don’t really like having a job, but really enjoy traveling for work.

I digress. Travel Cardio. The airport is exhausting now. Four years ago, I would think on Sunday night, “I have to go to Washington tomorrow” and then basically the next thing I did that required conscious thought would be unpacking my stuff in my hotel room. Everything else was on autopilot. 

Now it’s different. Now I have to think about how many shirts I might need or whether or not I should refill my toiletry kit. I have to focus going through security. Watch? Belt? I can’t get distracted at the gate, lest I miss some announcement. The airport is huge! This is a loooooooong walk. How does a Lyft work? I can’t focus. Everything is baby steps. I have to break things into manageable chunks because all of it is requiring active, engaged thought. I feel like I’m rehabbing an injury. Which I guess maybe I kind of am.

Somebody I know refers to the global two-year period of mandatory, passively-enforced introspection as “doing pandemic time,” and I really like that idea. Not being able to leave the house for a couple of years was, in fact, a little bit like spending some time in the joint: you think about what you did, you think about what you’re going to do when you get out, and you spend the time between those two things thinking about them back and forth in turn. 

It’s no wonder people go a little crazy. It changes you, confinement. Especially if you’re a traveler, come to think of it.