I used to have a sense of adventure. New Orleans next weekend? Sounds good. Winnipeg all by myself to hang out with people I’ve never even met? Why not? Trip to Boston, NYC, Maine, and Seattle all in one summer? Sweet!
But last weekend when my husband let on we had to fly to our super secret surprise destination I could not sleep.
See that smile? Totally fake. Well, okay, partly fake. I was happy to still be alive and breathing on solid ground before climbing onto that plane and hurtling toward an unknown fate.
I’ve hated flying ever since I was scheduled to connect in London right around the same time that bomb-made-of-liquid plot hit the news. Newsweek read: “You would not have wanted to be there,” and described how the plane would have disintegrated slowly and everyone on board would have known for several minutes exactly what was happening.
When I took my rescheduled trip through London on my way home from Rome the following spring, the airport canceled all transatlantic flights for several hours. Oh, sure, they said air traffic control couldn’t see what planes were over the ocean because of a technological failure, but I knew they weren’t telling us that the three mysterious looking Middle Eastern dudes scheduled to be on my flight were suspected to be packing bombs. The airport employees seriously checked their passports like six times. And when we finally did board (I am SO glad I was not around to see this), my friend Jenny sat behind said mysterious trio and watched them get up to use the loo together like every 10 minutes. I thought only girls went to the bathroom together—and not on an AIRPLANE.
Apparently the bombs those guys probably deposited in the toilet failed because I’m here today to explain why I hate flying.
A plane crashed over my house when I was seven years old, and there were plane and body parts scattered through the whole neighborhood like confetti for weeks, so I think I’ve always been a little iffy about planes. But after 9/11 most of my fears disappeared because I thought, “Hey, like those terrorists are ever going to try THAT again.” My first flight ever was on April 21, 2002.
I wish I could say my LAST flight ever was April 26, 2009. But there are too many places I want to go—and what am I supposed to write about if all I ever see are the tidy vacuum-marked lines of my own living room carpet? (I haven’t put together my new desk yet. For the last year, I’ve done all my writing sitting on the floor.)
To battle my fear, I pray. A lot. I try to convince myself that death isn’t that bad because convincing myself that death is unlikely hasn’t worked so far. I look for really absorbing flight reads. I bring calming music. I try to not look out the window and see the earth dropping out from under me, and I’ve stopped asking my aerospace engineer husband to explain to me once more this magical concept called “lift” because I still don’t get it. Sometimes I even try to get excited and say, “Wow! I’m sitting in a chair in the SKY!”
But my hero this week is Ms. Brodi Ashton. Not only did she clue me in to the possibility of VALIUM for all my future flying appointments, she also returned unscathed from Pakistan. She flew for something like 72 hours roundtrip—and then she required a bodyguard when she got there because her chances of dying on the ground were higher than in the sky! (Okay, so I’ve heard that’s true of everyone, but it’s hard for me to believe.)
Everyone skip over to her blog right now. She’s posted some great pictures and fascinating stories about a place I’m not nearly adventurous enough to see for myself.
And Chad Phares—if you are out there, do you have a blog? I’d love to see pictures from your recent trip to CAMBODIA.
(Seriously, who are these people? I’m scared to fly to DisneyWorld.)