Thursday, February 12, 2009

27,000 Feet

I fly a lot. Several times a week, usually. Funny thing is, a year ago I hated flying.

I didn't mind when I was a kid; it was exciting, adventuresome. But then I had kids. Somehow being up here, while everyone I love is down there, freaked me out entirely. I even had to get prescription medication to help me fly without fighting the compulsion to rip out the exit door and put myself out of my misery!

A year and hundreds of flights later, I am at 27000 feet again. Behavioral modification therapy (entirely self-guided) has worked wonders, and now I am one of those freaks of nature that can sleep through all the pings and weather updates, pee during turbulence withouit getting my ass stained blue, and devote my entire attention to my book through the bumpiest takeoffs and landings.

I'm a Frequent Flyer, officially.

As such, I always want the aisle seat. Of course there's the legroom issue, but I can also get off the plane and make my connection, rental car, or home more quickly (really! 10 minutes can make or break you!). Mostly its because I'm just impatient.

I used to request a window seat. Yes, REQUEST. I wanted to stare out the window at the scenery. Feel the sensation of the ground falling away and my stomach falling with it. Find shapes in the puffy clouds.

That was the dreamer in me, and I've put her away a lot lately. I don't have the time.

I found her again today. My case cancelled, and I had to get a standby flight. I made it, got on board, and the plane was nearly empty. The seats were nice and new, it was a comfortably warm temperature, and the air portals were blowing cool air gently on my face. The flight attendants were pleasant, and Captain Dan came out to greet us personally.

I still got my aisle seat, but there was no one next to me and the windows were clean and scratch-free.

I feel good today. Really, truly, good. And I'm headed home. Tonight I will be holding my children in my arms and kissing their luscious round cheeks.

Basking in my contentment, I did not open my book. Instead, I watched out the window. Watched as the ground fell away, buildings shrinking exponentially. I gave myself over to centrifugal force and sank into my seat as the plane banked steeply but smoothly. I closed my eyes and luxuriated in the warmth of the sun on my face as the plane burst through the heavy blanket of clouds.

It's always sunny up there. I tend to forget that, or not care. Up there, there is no spatial reference. I could be giant or tiny.

An airplane is a curiously intimate setting. I'm as alone as I want to be. But if the situation is right, I might make a brief new acquaintance.

And the white noise is lovely, muting the ambient noise of conversation and allowing me to fold into myself and float gently and weightlessly in my head. Its almost as nice as silence.

At 27000 feet, there is no stress. Phones are off. Computers are off. No one will fault me for being unavailable; I was on a plane. Of course.

But all good things, as they say....

Every flight ends in an airport. And airports are the polar opposite of 27000 feet.

No wonder everyone is in such a hurry to board the plane.


Monnik said...

This post was wonderfully written.

I used to hate flying (remember our flights on the band trip to Mexico? I clutched Janelle -my purple bunny- and squinched my eyes shut the whole time), but don't mind it so much now.

I request a window seat each time, though. I prefer to watch the scenery and I also can lean my head against the wall to sleep.

JaneyV said...

I went through the same flying phobia after I had my kids too. It was like separation anxiety mixed in with an overwhelming feeling of putting myself at risk. As a Mom we are programmed to survive to take care of our kids. Sitting in a tin can 27,000 feet off the ground feels ridiculously risky.

I loved all your description of flying. I remember that dreamy quality too. Glad you got to relive it today.

Enjoy the weekend with your bubs.

Drofen said...

Great post! What do you do that you get to travel so much, and can I do it too? I love to travel!

Whirlochre said...

Three times a week?

I shall look out for a red blob streaking through the blue, just in case you're over the UK.

Me? I'm one of the world's crappest flyers, having only done it half a dozen times at most. But then, I didn't use top of the range ironing boards for my wings.

I'd love to be up there above the clouds again. There's something so good about that, almost like being an angel without having to get dressed up.

Jess said...

I shared this with the other person I know who travels as much as you do. He said he always picks the aisle seat too for the same reasons.

It's amazing how much living in the moment makes life so much more entertaining. :)

Great post, Mama.

ModernMom said...

Just stumbled across your blog and had to comment on this post. Wonderfully written! I too used to be a great flyer until the birth of my two babes. Now I can't stand to leave them behind. I will try and take inspiration from your new found strength as I take to the skies next week.

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