Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fear of Flying.

Last year on the way home from Ireland, something happened on our flight that one of the attendants called the worst thing to happen to her in thirty years of flying. It was our JFK to SFO leg, things started getting bumpy, and the captain had everyone buckle their seat belts and even advised staying out of the bathrooms. Turbulence didn't really bother me, but who really likes a situation like that? Suddenly it felt like the plane had hit a tree, and we dropped. We free fell for what we guess was something like 3 full seconds. Anything not strapped down went in the air, all the papers in the back pockets of seats, all the beverages, and all the flight crew. It was terrifying. It felt like we recovered, but we weren't at a window so it was hard to see what was going on. Drama queen that I am, I asked CF, "Are we going down?" He didn't really answer. I'm very proud of that fact that in that moment I thought myself, "It's all going to be okay." I wasn't scared, I was with CF, and whatever (and I do mean whatever) happened, it was all going to be okay. I was snapped back into reality by an apology over the intercom from the captain, he felt awful but we were back in control. Everyone on board appeared to be okay, even the six foot tall male flight attendant who I had to look away from when I saw him hit the ceiling. Later I saw a man behind on in the plane with an ice pack on his head, I wonder if something hit him or if he didn't have his belt on. Someone's drinking water was dripping on me from the ceiling, but the attendants had their hands full with more important business and I certainly wasn't going to unbuckle to stand up and take care of it! I covered up with my blanket and just let it drip until it was gone. When I did have the guts to stand up and go to the restroom I found my legs were still shaking, I hurried back to my seat as quickly as possible and belted in tight. When we landed everyone clapped, and I thought everything would go back to being the way it was.

Two weeks later when we pushed back from the gate on a Southwest flight to go to Vegas for a friends wedding I found out I was wrong. The moment the plane moved in the slightest way I was gripping the arm rests with white knuckles. Welcome to my new fear of flying. And what a flight to discover it on! Landing in Vegas is a bumpy ride due to the hot air rising off the desert. Everyone else was chatting and laughing, excited about their visit to Sin City. Me, if it had gotten any worse I was going to cry. I requested a large cocktail the minute we got off the plane. I didn't get it right away but later in the evening CF bought me a $20 monstrosity resembling a volcano, complete with dry ice steaming in the middle. But the fear of flying has stuck with me. I am one of the worst people to have to sit next to in turbulence, just ask my dear friend MP who flew to NYC with me last January.

So yeah, I hate flying. Which sucks because I love traveling. The first leg of our journey home we had seats about three rows from the back of the plane. It was a bumpy ride but the seat belt sign never went on, I forced myself into a little meditation and stayed calm the whole time. CF thought I had been asleep and hadn't noticed, since usually I am such a pain about it. We landed in Frankfurt, found our gate number for our connection, we had an hour and a half layover. But as we made out way in that direction we heard an announcement for passengers of our flight to go to that gate. We got a bit scared that our flight had been moved up and we were going to miss it, like what had happened to the Z's on the way to Europe. We had to go through security again, just like the last time we passed through Frankfurt. The line was backing up and moving irritatingly slow. I was clever enough to be the first to notice a new line opening and I scooted CF's and my stuff over there quickly. They were being extra rigid with the screening, which is probably why the line was so backed up. CF's small can of shaving cream was closely inspected. He didn't want to appear too desperate but he did offer to discard it if it was going to be a problem. I wondered why he hadn't put it in his plastic bag of liquids, but it turns out that was the closest thing to liquid he was even bringing home. I thought we were finally in the clear but then a woman said something scary to me in German. "I'm sorry?" I said in English, I wouldn't have known what to say in German even if I had the wits about me enough to remember what country I was in. "Take all your belongings and follow me," she translated for me. Oh no. Well it didn't take too much longer but my camera got an extra special close inspection. When she was almost done inspecting it the zoom on the lens started to move and just for a second I could see a little bit of worry on her face. She wouldn't have been able to take down to me so well if she broke my camera, now could she?

We sort of wanted to stop to finally get some food, but we still weren't sure what was up with our flight. We walked past crowded Air India gates and lines for the restrooms, people everywhere! We finally found out gate and found rigid passport control and tons of people. It was pretty crazy. The people checking passports asked us, "And what have you bought at the airport today?" I heard one woman snip, "Nothing, I've been in line the whole time!" Eventually we boarded, but there were latecomers who were checked in but not boarded so we were missing our scheduled departure time. A woman traveling with her cute little baby sat down next to me, but we're in the row behind the bulkhead row and it turned out that's where they were supposed to be sitting, so my little friend is out of eyesight right now. Then the dreaded announcement came that someone who had checked baggage had not boarded. They had to pull their bags off the plane, and everything was already loaded. So we waited and waited. Then there was trouble putting all the luggage back on. People groaned and booed. CF said, "I can tell already this is going to be quite a flight." People were getting cranky and a little rude at one another. The flight crew did what they could to keep the peace. I whispered to CF, "The man across the aisle from you is wearing a checked pattern shirt with skinny dark lines, and it perfectly matches the pants of the woman behind him." Yes, I am overly observant. He laughed. "Do you love it?" I asked him. It really was pretty funny. We imagined it was actually one outfit that they had somehow agreed to share. At least we were amusing ourselves while waiting for one of the most chaotic and cranky planes I've ever seen to take to the sky.

So I'm typing this as I flying somewhere over Canada. There's about four hours left until we land and the only movie I cared to see has already played. I am sorry to have caught up with my blog finally because that leaves me with nothing else to do! I will say though that I found a fantastic distraction from turbulence, a movie musical! They were showing Hairspray earlier. It was pretty good expect John Travolta was terrible and they cut one of my favorite songs. I am thrilled to be going home right now. I do miss it. But I am anxious to see what the next couple weeks will bring. I expect to have a crazy holiday season at the store. We'll be seeing friends again soon, there are plenty of holiday parties and plans. Here comes "real life." I don't know what the last five weeks were, if they weren't real life.

Thanks for reading along, I thought it was just my mom, my sister and Ms. D when she wasn't here with me. But I'm getting the impression that there are more of you than I thought. I can't believe I actually journaled about the whole trip. I've never kept it up so long, and this was also the longest duration of travel I've managed yet. Sorry for constantly rambling, I'm sure there were times when you wondered if I had ever heard of editing. But I was musing on memories for myself, as well as letting you all know what we were up to.

Now I'm wondering what I should try to blog about from home. I started this blog early last year and posted a thousand times but kept going back and deleting. I guess my blogging, much like my life, is a bit lacking in aim. So I can't say what will be appearing on this page in the coming weeks. Any advice or requests? Regardless, I've had fun doing this travel journal. Thanks again.


Leslie said...

No suggestions yet but I've been sad to see the blogging coming to an end...I hope something will work out!

Sara said...

Yup, you're right. There are more of us reading and enjoying. But I've loved hearing all about it! Can't wait for your next adventure.

Russ said...

Another reader here. :)