Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Takeoff

I'm flying to Raleigh, NC for work and we just took off from JFK. For
the first time in years, I have a window seat.

I grew up flying, thanks to my dad working for Varig airlines. I used
to love going to visit him at the airport and watching the airplanes
take off and land from an employees only rooftop. My dad, being an
aviation nut, knew all the call signs and could tell you the make and
model of a plane flying overhead without being able to make out the
ensignia. Often we'd go to the airport, park the car and watch planes
land, full with the rush and roar and energy of the whole thing. I
couldn't get enough of it.

Whenever we flew, which was often, I'd take a window seat and bounce
excitedly during takeoff, my favorite part of the whole ride. It was
an adventure.

Over the years I started to fly less and became wary of the whole
experience. Window seats were for kids and noobs; the aisle seat is
where the experienced and harried traveler sat. With ageing also came
the unsettling realization that I was mortal, the plane could crash
and turbulence and otherwise normal flight sounds started to freak me
out. After 9/11, it turned even scarier and I barely took flights and
for the most part white-knuckled it during takeoff (the most dangerous
part of the flight) when I did.

This past Christmas I realized that I was missing out on seeing my
family because of it and resolved to not let this fear stop me any
longer. I booked 4 flights, one for each season. And then my
grandmother got sick and I booked some more so that I ended up with a
flight every month. On that first flight I took back home when she was
in the hospital and diagnosed, I sat in my aisle seat and forgoed my
usual routine takeoff distraction (unlawfully listening to my ipod
during takeoff) and thought about what I really was afraid of and
forced myself to be really present and feel my fear.

It worked. I got through it. I started to enjoy the flight and
remember what I loved about planes and flying.

So here I am at a window seat and during takeoff, I turned up the
music (lawfully pumped through Jetblue's xm radio) and excitedly
watched our takeoff and restrained my desire to hoot and holler. As we
banked to the left and Rockaway beach was below us, I thought about
how yeah, this is a bit scary but also exciting and that's life.

Being the type of person willing to face her fears is one of the 50
things I love about myself.

Sent from my iPhone

2 comments:

Clau said...

Very cool. Now you only have 49 other things to write about.

vivzan said...

Clau, I thought it was a good idea at the time but how in hell am I going to think of 49 things I like about myself? This will take years! ;-)