So, I’m traveling for work. Heading to Washington D.C. to meet with others who do what I do, hopefully learn a few new things, and even present my work to a national audience. Not a terrible agenda and in a pretty good location, so it could certainly be worse. Well, no matter how you look at it, I have to actually get my body to the nation’s capital which means I have to fly. I don’t really like to fly. Lately, I hate to fly. This fear of flying has definitely gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and especially now that I’m a mother, I truly don’t want to do it. Call me controlling, call me anxious, whatever, I don’t necessarily like the idea of possibly falling out of the sky. Understand, though that this fear is magnified when I am flying alone. It’s selfish, I know, but the fear is so great because in the event of my untimely death, I don’t want to leave behind my family. I know it’s a morbid thought, but who wants to be the only one dead? Not me. My husband and I flew together before we had Pickle and I was fine. If we go down, we’ll go down together. Don’t judge, I am certain I am not the only one.
I arrived at the airport feeling more anxious than I typically do. Last summer when I came to this conference Pickle was only about 18 months old so she really didn’t understand that Mommy was leaving. Sure she waved bye-bye but once the sliding doors closed behind me that was pretty much it. (At least that’s what I convinced myself of at the time). This time was totally different. She could actually say “airport” and “Mommy is going on a plane! Yay!” Yeah, yay, but for who? Not me. Anyway, it was really hard for me to say goodbye! She actually said, “Have a good trip, Mommy!” and blew me a kiss. I almost lost it. I pulled it together so as not to show her any indication that I don’t want to go. I remember reading a book a while ago about working mothers. We have a tendency to tell our kids that we don’t want to go to work and that we would rather stay home with them. “I know, baby, Mommy doesn’t want to go either but I have to.” Sound familiar? Anyway, that’s for another post but we really shouldn’t tell our children that. In one sentence we are telling our kids that we want to be with them but choose not to. Instead we should tell them (Whether we believe it or not at the time) that we want to go to our jobs – we love what we do. I digress…anyway, I kept it together despite my deep desire to break into tears and bear hug my child. Time to check in for my flight.
I checked in with no one else in line and even went through security ALONE. I couldn’t help but think that this trip may not be so bad after all. Well, it’s not that easy, is it. Of course not. Thunderstorms between Baton Rouge and Atlanta which meant turbulence. A lot of turbulence. Now I have a friend who is a commercial pilot and I have had many conversations with him about turbulence. He reassured me that planes do not just fall out of the sky. Bumps in the air are like bumps on the road. Well, maybe, except a big pothole on the street will not send me hurling 35,000 feet to my untimely death. Anyway, he assures me that I will be fine and not to “over think” flying but I can’t help it. Every bump in the road is met with my gasping for air as if I were drowning. I try to cover by coughing or clearing my throat so as not to look like a total scary cat. That and I don’t want to totally freak out the teenager next to me. We’re not about to die. Really.
So, the plane I’m on, if you can call it that, sits about 75 people and you can easily lock arms with the person across the aisle from you. Too close for comfort. And when the girl in the seat across from you starts barfing, way, way too close for comfort. Seriously? Is this how my trip is going to be? I heard rustling of paper but had no idea it was the vomit bag. She starts. It’s not just a little spit up, or a little motion sickness. No, this is full on, coughing, choking, spitting vomit. The mother was right next to me and the father was behind me. Believe me, I am trying to be supportive. After all, I am a mother and the likelihood that one day I will be with my daughter helping her while she barfs in public in a confined space, is, I guess, within the realm of possibility. So who am I to judge. I’m trying not to look but also trying not to make them feel bad so I give the mother a (fleeting at best) glance of a smile. I would want people to be kind to us when it happens, right? Just to draw a picture, this is the same mother who previously on the flight took our her chewing gum and stuck it to her thumb while she ate pretzels. Three or four pretzels in the palm of one hand and a gum draped thumb on the other, munching away. Really? That piece is that good, that broken in that you have to keep it while you consume food? Are you on a dare of some sort to see how long you can chew the same piece? Really? Seeing her then read the latest issue of Star magazine with the gum still planted on her thumb about sent me over the edge. Anyway…
So, at some point the parents have to start talking about what is going on. Being that I am in the middle of the two of them means I am now part of the brainstorming, reenactment, and the comforting. Thanks, really, and then they start. He asks what happened and she tells him, “She said she was feeling bad and then, blah! Blah, it just get coming. Can you hand me another wet one? She’s got it on her face…” Ok, lady, really. You don’t need to reenact the ‘blah’ because I heard the blah, I saw the blah, and smelled the blah! Really we do not need your version of events. Believe me, we all know what happened. Why your husband hasn’t a clue is another issue because this entire plan knows what happened!
I have not clue what these barf bags are made out of. I can’t say I’ve ever really looked at one up close but apparently they are not water tight. Seems a bit of an assumption, I guess, that the item used to hold vomit, a liquid, would be waterproof. Anyway, maybe I’m the only one questioning it but I don’t need to give you the specifics. As mom was holding it up to show her oblivious husband I truly thought for a moment that it would be totally appropriate to yell at her. There is absolutely no reason on this planet that this woman had to hold up the vomit bag to show her husband! Get me off of this plane! I just want to get on the ground and hold my daughter.
God help me but I swear a wave of nausea came over me. I had to laugh. Oh no, no, no, no, this will not happen to me. Before I could even think about it we were on the ground. Thankfully. On time and no untimely death.
Flight number two. Much bigger plane and plenty of more room. I feel more secure on this plane and for some reason think bigger planes equate to better pilots. Whatever. I just know I feel better. That is until I realize one of my carry on bags (my one personal carry on) does not fit under the seat in front of me. I push, hard but no go. The space is just too small. My luggage bag is above me and that carry on bin is full. I look all around near me and all the bins are full. I’m sitting next to a very tiny older lady who has no carry on bags. Nothing under the seat in front of her. So I ask her if she would mind me sliding my bag under the seat in front of her. After all, it will slide all the way back and she won’t even know it’s there. I’d do it if someone asked me to, wouldn’t you? Well, apparently Miss, I-need-more-leg-room-than-any-other-human didn’t think it was a good idea. She said no. She said she wanted the space to put her feet under the seat. Okay, look, I understand the need to stretch on a plane. I understand the reality of blood clots on long flights. I get it. But we were going to be in the air for one hour and twenty-six minutes! Whatever old lady, that’s fine but I want to see your feet stretched out for every last second of this flight. I’m sitting in the 40th row and my other carry on had to travel about fifteen rows up. Thanks. Whatever, if she needs her space I can respect that. Yup. You guessed it. That woman’s feet never so much as crept into the vicinity of the area under that seat. Her legs were bent at the knees for the entire flight! Her little feet planted firmly right in front of her seat. Not even a little stretch into that large, empty space that she could not share. I guess I shouldn’t complain, again I made it without an untimely death.
In the cab ride to the hotel, which, by the way getting a cab was another fiasco but I won’t bore you with the details, I quietly declare to myself that I don’t want to fly again for a long, long time. I think to myself that thankfully, I don’t. Wait, how soon we forget. I do have to eventually go home.