The circulated air on the plane suffocates my eyes as they fill with water. I strain them to halt the one tear that wants to sail down my check. I grab my phone and send a text that reads, “I kind of want to cry but I won’t”—with three teeth clenching emojis as if the emotion behind the text alone wasn’t clear enough.
While waiting for a response, I examine every passenger boarding the plane. Every time a motherly looking woman squints her eyes at my aisle number I skip a breath. All I want is for an older, nurturing woman to sit next to me and give me the candy at the bottom of her purse, while cradling me as the plane coasts into the night sky. Is that too much to ask for?
My mom finally answered my text message with “Ok don’t. You’ll be fine.” Yes, her response was harsh but necessary. This is not my first flight and I’ve flown internationally before. What is my problem? I’ll tell you, I am a totally baby when it comes to flying. When I flew with my family last summer I forced my 12 year old brother to hold my hand as we took off. When I felt the bottom wheels start to move, I grabbed his hand that he tried to scoot away from me and clenched it with dagger eyes.
Who would my seatmate be for this flight? Would he/she let me hold their hand? An older man eventually took the aisle seat in my row. We were each blessed by the plane gods when no one showed up to sit between us. Extra stretching room—score! This particular man lacked any kind of caring gene but it comforted me. He ignored me when I squeezed the arms of my seat, while making a face similar to the teeth clenching emoji during takeoff. Like my mom, his tough love approach resonated well with me.
I barely knew this seemingly quiet, bitter, old man but I knew he had my best intention in mind when he scowled at my uneasiness. I can’t read minds but I would guess he was looking at me thinking ‘grow up you ignorant slob.’
So I tried my hardest to shake off the fear and put on a brave face. I lifted the window covering and glanced out, which usually makes me both sick and more scared but I was surprised by what I had been missing out on.
I was instantly enthralled with the tiny twinkling lights that covered the Newark area. I was suddenly just a small part of everything that was taking place on this massive earth. My problem was likely minuscule compared to everything that was going on down below.
When I was able to relax more, I started to take a liking to this man and his rude, aloof nature. We never spoke or even met eyes to exchange a quick smile. Towards the end of the flight however, we became connected in a strange way. We were served our breakfast meal and we each placed our drinks on the empty tray of the lonely middle chair. At one point we picked up our glasses from the table at the same time and drank them in sync. I imagined looking at our identical actions from the seats across from us and chuckled.
At this very moment I had this odd idea pop into my head, that perhaps this man was a very different form of my mother guiding me through the flight. Mom — if you are reading this, by no means are you rude, aloof, or manly. It is just your similar way of dealing with my dramatic fear of planes.
Anyhow, I made it and I am so delighted to be here! Much more to come! I have a packed schedule and spotty internet connection but I hope to fill you all in on more soon. So bare with me.
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