Total word count: 11,187*
I’m not one for signs and portents. Were I to apply for a job as an oracle, I’d never get the gig. That didn’t stop me from being fairly certain my flight was doomed last night.
On the flight out to Chicago last Wednesday, I was napping quite peacefully when we hit a little bump. Nothing that bothered me, really just enough to wake me from my doze.
Then the plane dropped.
Then it teetered.
It was done in a few seconds, really, not even enough time to really register what was going on. I don’t know what causes that sort of thing, but the pilot came on, said they’d known there was going to be some turbulence, but he was taking us down a little lower to smooth us out. The rest of the flight was fine. My fellow travelers and I regrouped at the gate (we weren’t seated together), and shared some shaky smiles.
I didn’t think too much about it the rest of the week, except for providing a brief summary when asked “how was your flight?”
Two and a half days of work, then two awesome days rambling about Chicago with Marty and Shannon (with guest appearances by Vonnie and Dan), and the bad flight out was mostly out of my head.
Until, of course, we started out for O’Hare last night. Now, the thing to understand is, I’ve shared bad flight horror stories before getting on a plane plenty of times before. It doesn’t faze me. So, Shannon and I swap a few. I think I’m fine.
Then, standing at the check-in kiosk, I start dwelling. I have the option of upgrading to an exit row seat. I start to pass on it (I don’t think I can expense a $25 seat upgrade), then I go back and do it after all. If you’re looking for a rational explanation, I don’t have one. It was a feeling, and I followed it, telling myself it was for the extra leg room, since my laptop bag is so frickin’ huge, I can’t stretch my legs out under the seats in front of me.
In the security line, I start shaking. Can’t stop it. Maybe a bit of it is because I’m hungry, but I’d had a huge breakfast and don’t feel hungry.
So I buy food once I’m on the other side. And I pick up a copy of Under the Dome, since my terminal had a Barbara’s Booksellers (yay indies in airports!). I figure I’ll read my way through the flight and be distracted. Any of you picked up Under the Dome yet, even to flip through the first few pages? It starts with a woman taking flying lessons. She crashes by page ten. Granted, it’s pretty unlikely that my Jet Blue flight’s going to encounter a mysterious dome anywhere on the way to Boston, but god damn it.
Then the girl sitting next to me at the gate is yattering away on her cell phone, telling someone on the other end about some misgivings she has about the flight. I think it’s because it was a smaller plane, but somehow I managed to block her out before she could add to my own fears.
We board. The captain tells us there’s going to be some turbulence until we’re over Michigan.
Turbulence never bothers me. Little jostles and bumps don’t even startle me, most flights.
Now, though, every jiggle of the plane has me gritting my teeth.
Looking back on it, I think the upgrade to the exit row was a good move. I’m not claustrophobic at all, but there was something comforting about having the extra room that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it was feeling like I had at least some semblance of control — if anything happened that required people to do their exit-row duties, I’d be the one acting, not relying on someone else to do them.
Once we landed, once wheels touched ground, I started breathing again. While we were in the air, I don’t think I realized how tense I was, or how shallow my breathing must have been. Once I got off the plane, though, I felt it. Greg met me at the baggage claim. I was just kind of staring into space waiting for my suitcase to appear, and was pretty zombie-like all the way to the car. Somewhere about halfway home I started coming out of it, but by that point I was pretty drained.
So, hopefully I’ll be over it by January, when not only do I have to board another plane, this time I have to cross an ocean on it.
Anyway. Home again. Back at it.
*Yes, that’s right, I’ve written nothing in the last week. Tuesday night was for some amazing RP; I had a feeling nothing else was getting done. Then I was a-travellin’, and only just got home last night. Work travel and visiting friends doesn’t leave me much time for scribbling, so I didn’t. I forgive myself.