Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane....

I had reason to fly this summer.

In an airplane.

Many of you know from previous blog posts that this is not my preferred method of transportation. But, after much praying, relentless whining, therapeutic over-eating as well as getting my affairs in order, I accepted that in order to make it to a family wedding in Italy and, later, visit my sons -- both of whom are temporarily situated in the midwestern United States -- I had little choice.

Prodded by vague moments of lucidity and lots of deep thinking about the need to step from the deep recesses of my comfort zone and into the light, I decided to face my fears.
You will not be surprised to learn that for the true neurotic  --  as in everything --  there is a process. Booking the flight is the first hurdle.

As a preliminary requirement, one must procrastinate for days...sometimes weeks, often forfeiting cheaper airfare or good (nearest the exits) seats.

Once I finally get down to the business of making flight reservations, I try to intimidate myself as well as prevent actually chickening out of a flight by not buying the inexpensive insurance which enables one to cancel a trip yet receive a refund. Once, to Seth's abject horror, this did not stop me from refusing to board a plane and I am still paying him off in the currency of our marriage -- foot rubs and neck massages -- for that one.

When booking, I sit at the keyboard in what I hope is an altered state that directly connects me to the powers-that-be as I navigate the details of my transportion---as in begging God to steer me towards flights free from mechanical failure, terrorists and no meal service.

This involves attaining a transcendental state as I scan flight numbers, do actual research on the current financial status of available airlines (can they afford to properly bolt their seats to the floor??) and consult my inner psychic/numerologist as I choose from the remaining seats. After this is all over, I am drained....but I have hit "submit" and the wheels for either my fiery destruction or a nice vacation are in motion.

The next phase is called "perceiving life through the eyes of the imminently doomed."

As the date of departure nears, I look at my world with increasing affection.

Things that typically bother me (with the noted exception of the New York Mets, Justin Bieber and any and all Kardashians) become endearing and by the day before I leave, I am tragically in love with everything around me. Colors are brighter, food tastes more delicious, I don't mind changing the litter box and the moron who just cut me off on the highway and gave me the finger is not a son of a bitch, just charmingly madcap.

I then alert family and friends as to what is to be done with Buzzy the Cat should I not return, leave my will under the salt and pepper shakers on the kitchen table, make sure the laundry is done and the toilets are flushed...and then I leave.

On the way to the airport, the air -- despite inversions, pollution or noxious exhaust -- smells sweet and clean as I savor what could be my final breaths.

The lines at the tolls don't bother me and crazy drivers are most welcome because I have requested -- from the same powers that helped me choose my flight -- that if I am not meant to board the plane, I will be deterred by a traffic jam or a fender bender. This includes minor injuries that may involve having a broken limb set in the ER of a New York hospital---and we all know how long that would take.

But, I make it to the airport (LaGuradia or JFK) where, by now, I have begun to feel my heart hurling itself against my sternum.

I have a few Xanax in my bag that must be properly timed so I am, as yet, unsedated. This means everyone looks like a terrorist, the pilot is swilling martinis in the airport bar and the mechanic, who should be tightening the landing gear of my plane, is enjoying one of many porn apps on his smart  phone, instead. I, therefore, seek the non-prescription comforts of a bag of peanut M&Ms as we procure boarding passes and approach security.

Xanax is taken after the inevitable pat-down.

Inexplicably (to me), in the past two trips I've taken, I have been patted down for all legs of my journey. Could it be that my wild eyes and sheen of nervous sweat alerts the grim TSA agents in the New York airports? Okay, but what was it in Rome? By that time, I was charmingly festive with xanax and vino, wasn't I?
And in Des Moines last week, I was working really hard to appear to be a normal person yet with their no-nonsense middle-American perceptions, the local TSA obviously felt differently as they cheerfully felt me up in the name of passenger safety.

So, I flew....and lived to tell.

I am always amazed and incomprehensibly grateful that I have survived a flight as I stumble towards the smiling flight atendants who wave goodbye as I depart. And I always vow I won't fly again....until next time.

More about summer travel soon.....


  1. My trip planning is not dissimilar to yours, I'm afraid. Good post.

  2. I used to be really scared to fly. Now I just don't care anymore. What happens happens.

  3. A little xanax and coffee always helps me. I'm sedated but appear wide awake. This helps me through security.

  4. I am sorry to hear it, Leila but thanks for reading.

  5. Anon, not sure if your attitude is healthy or just fatalistic...but thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. Michele, that is quite brilliant. I will have to do the same next time!