170: FlightPosted: March 12, 2011
M and I are home. Safe and relatively sound. We traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee where we spent about 30 minutes before boarding another flight to Cleveland. I am almost convinced the Universe wants me to fly as our flights were mostly smooth. There was one big bump on the first leg of our journey that scared the heck out of me. I am sorry to report that a noise grunted out in lieu of a terrified scream did escape me in spite of my efforts to control it. I’ve never heard such a loud THUMP on a flight before (as if something hit the plane) and the fact that the pilot’s hurried announcement included an alarm sounding in the background was not a comfort. Although the sound I made was not loud, I do wish I had refrained from making any sound at all because there were a couple of little girls seated nearby who were afraid of flying and I didn’t want to make things worse for them. The flight attendants did such a great job of reassuring them at the beginning of the flight that they didn’t need some frightened old grandma making them scared again somewhere in the middle of it when they had relaxed.
I think it would be a wonderful thing to be able to board an airplane and act like all the normal people. What is it like to take a seat, buckle up, have a conversation with a fellow traveler, read a book, eat a snack, sit back, and just relax while in flight? Even the birds don’t have it that good. As for me, I don’t relax on a flight. Ever. I tense, I grip, I do this weird OCD-like counting thing, and I keep the plane up in the air by sheer force of will. If I relaxed and enjoyed myself, the plane might fall.
During our first full day in Florida, while the winds were gusting at ridiculous speeds, there were a lot of kitesurfers (or kiteboarders) out taking full advantage of all that wind.
As I watched and photographed some of the kitesurfers, I wondered if doing something like that might cure me of my fear of flying.
It looks like fun…
And good exercise as well. It would also have an element of control. Not complete control, of course, or I doubt the young guys out there flying around on their kiteboards would be much interested in the sport. But there would certainly be a lot more personal control than there is when one is a passenger on an airplane.
So. I’ve given up my secret. It’s not being up in the air that bothers me half as much as the lack of control. Should something go wrong, there is nothing I can do. Gasp! Worse yet, if I don’t like what’s going on during the flight, I can’t leave. Not without a parachute, at any rate. And can you imagine them letting me open a door to leave? No, I think not.
I do like having my feet on the ground. Or in the water and on the ground. Giving me the name of a bird apparently didn’t inspire me to want to fly. Well, that’s not entirely true. There was a time, when I was much younger, when I did want to fly. I almost joined the Air Force because I wanted to fly.
But life grounded me before I fully committed. I did other things, and now I have this unexplained fear of flying that doesn’t seem to improve with experience. Perhaps the Air Force is better off without me.
Coming into Cleveland, it was easy to see we were home. It was cloudy with sloppy, half-melted snow on the ground. We had a few quick sunny spells, but nothing worth donning sunglasses (or sunscreen…ha!). It is warmer than I expected after viewing all the snow from above. 53 degrees on the drive home.
And now, after a good, long soak in the disco tub with the air jets going, chromotherapy lights flashing, and some bath salts labeled “Stress & Tension” (presumably the idea being they reduce stress and tension, not cause it), I’m relaxed and glad to be home. It is, to me, one of the gifts of the fear of flying. Instead of having post-vacation blues because I’ve reentered the cloudiness and sloppiness of the Bogs at the end of winter, I am grateful to be back on the ground. Any ground.
Plus I get to sleep in my own bed tonight!
Having had to get up at 3:30 this morning, it’s gonna be an early night. I’m just waiting for it to be at least close to late enough to fall into bed and off to sleep where I might, in my dreams, fly in a way that is fun.