A (Temporary) Departure

Sitting in the airport
Waiting for my flight
The one that will take me
Back far away from you

From the top of the country
I’ll return this day
With a heart so heavy
But so full of you

I blame you fully
For how I feel

You welcomed me warmly
Showed me your life
You made my heart skip
And stole the breath from my chest

So it’s your fault, my dear
That my pulse has quickened
And I want to flee the airport
Come running back to you

Just a few more things to tidy up
And I’ll be back before you know it
This is the flight that takes me away
Soon I’ll take another, this time to stay

The One Where Stephanie Takes Flight

Rarely does a day go by when I don’t think about hopping in my car and driving “until the wheels fall off.” And then wherever I land, I can start all over again. Except not from my mother’s belly, because that would be gross. And who wants to go through puberty again. Ew and high school. Fuck high school.

My affinity for road trips (which I don’t think I’ve written about yet) is part of my larger affinity for travel. I’m peripatetic at heart, y’all. I really am. But road trips take a long time, at least they do when I’m doing them. Because I’m not talking about a road trip that takes four or five hours. That is not a road trip, y’all. And if you’re calling that a road trip, stop it right now. Because that’s lame and doesn’t count. (It sorta counts. I’m being snobby.)

Unfortunately, there’s only so much time in a day, and road trips aren’t always practical or even feasible for your purposes. Sometimes they’re downright impossible if you actually want to reach your destination.

Enter airplanes. But guess what? I had a fear of flying that I didn’t know I had until I was waiting to catch my very first flight. (Isn’t that funny? I wonder what other fears I have that I don’t know I have until someone puts cream cheese in front of my face and I bolt in terror and hide under the bed. Even if it is slathered on chicken. Who traumatizes chicken like that? Crazy people, that’s who.)

Stephanie Earns Her Wings (not the ones on pads – stop being nasty, y’all)

Flight one was a trip to New York. And I didn’t even have to pay for it. What? I sat in the holding pen with the rest of the cattle, and stared out the window at the enormous plane. And I could feel my stomach trying to take its own flight, straight outta me and to some rural farm somewhere, where everyone is called Bubba and only terrorists fly planes. My stomach would be nice and safe there. But since I had my stomach in solitary confinement, its fate was mine.

When I learned that the enormous jumbo plane I was looking at was only a lowly commuter plane, I was supposed to feel reassured. Until I was told those are the shaky motherfuckers that make you feel like you’ll plummet to the ground any minute. (Someone was rather enjoying my growing anxiety.)

The flight is called, and my intrepid little heart was doing somersaults in my chest. I told it we could work on our gymnastics later, but that insolent fucker wasn’t having it. We climb up into the plane, and oh my god. This claustrophobic capsule of doom was about the size of a sardine can. (Is there any such thing as sardine cans anymore? Don’t eat sardines, people. That’s nasty.)  They packed us in there like sardines. We may as well have been in each others’ laps. To make matters worse, the little light above my head was flickering. IT WAS FLICKERING. That was surely a sign that I was about to get Final Destinationed.

By the time the plane was lifting off, tears were silently pouring down my cheek. (Of course they were silent. Tears don’t speak. Do you, tears? No, we don’t speak. That’s what I thought.) I just tensely sat there, quietly crying and willing myself not to look out the window. The thoughts that raced through my head were morbid and terrifying. And then we were up. My hand was held, and I was reassured. Slowly my tears dried up, and I willed myself to stop thinking about all the bad things that could happen. Because I’m here now, right? I mean, it’s a little late to change my mind.

And then something peculiar and unexpected happened. At some point along the way, we flew into a mild storm. And I shook, rattled and rolled until I went unconscious, then woke up in a plane filled with water and I lived the next several years of my life stranded on a deserted island, looking at a picture of my fiance. Shit, sorry. That was Tom Hanks in Castaway. My bad. So we hit a patch of turbulence, right? And the plane was shaking and jolting around in the air. And…

I fucking loved it! I even giggled! The people that were with me were most displeased at this turn of events. The two fuckers who had delighted in my fear were now terrified. And I had the audacity to giggle! From that point on, I loved it. Even the tiny little packet of peanuts. I’d have framed it if I didn’t eat them. And then the stupid flight bitch stole my wrapper. That’s why I have pockets, people! Next time you get your in-flight peanuts, stuff the wrapper in your pocket so you can frame it later. Or scrapbook it if you’re one of those weirdos.

And then we landed, and I was even more ecstatic. Kinda leaning forward in my seat, feeling the shaking sardine can. And yay! This is an adventure! My flight companions were rather pissed off at this point, because their ears were popping. And I’m all bouncy and let’s go again! Let’s go again! Can we do it again!

No Longer A Virgin of the Skies (Wait. Not like that, y’all.), Stephanie the Skyslut Goes for Rounds Two, Three and Four

This time, the plane was much bigger. A Seven Forty-Bigger. But I felt unfazed. What did faze me was DFW. The Dallas airport was dirty and loud and crowded. And we had to rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry, run, run, run to our gate. Only to sit on the floor for several hours because flights were delayed. I took my laptop out and tried to work on a paper that would be due after winter break. But who can concentrate in all the noise and hubbub and chaos? Not this girl.

Oh, wait, I messed that all up. We had to go from DFW to Atlanta. It was in Atlanta that we had the asshole delays because winter storms or some shit. Lamesauce. Anyway, the points are the same.

I wasn’t nervous. Not at all. Instead, I was anxious to get on the plane and get going. And once we did, I found the plane bigger and roomier. Even my window was bigger, which didn’t matter at this point because it was super dark out and I couldn’t see shit. Lame. Other than that, it was all good. And I was disappointed that the landing wasn’t rockier. I got some annoyed looks with that observation. Apparently only commuter planes feel like they’re falling apart on landing. Damn. I was looking forward to that part! (No sarcasm, folks.)

Oh, and before I move on? The Newark airport can suck my dick. Well, it could if I had one. Because fuck that nasty, filthy, rude, mean place. Coming and going, it was the same. And they made me check my snow globe on the way back, because I could use it as a weapon! Or maybe I had bomb juice in there! And I pointed out that it wasn’t on any restrictions list, and then I got threatened that I’d be strip-searched. So I relented. But I was fuming. I was gonna burn that motherfucker down if they broke my snow globe!

Oh. One thing I did love about the Newark Airport was it was the first time I’d seen so many different cultures milling about in the same place. That was amazing, and I found myself trying really hard not to stare at people. I was fascinated and wanted to know all about them and their lives.

Stephanie Says Fuck the Cutesy Headings and Goes for Rounds Five through Twelve, All for One Trip

Next up was Paris. And before you think I’m some globetrotter (I wish), this was on a college trip. I was already in my mid-twenties, but I went back to school late. Anyway. Paris. To get there, we had to do the commuter again (YAY!), then more Seven Forty-Biggers. From Louisiana to Dallas to Atlanta. And Atlanta can kiss my ass, too! At least on the return trip when they broke my borrowed suitcase!

And then holy shit the Seven Forty-Jumbofucker! And you know what I felt when I saw it? Sadness! I lamented the fact that I wouldn’t get to feel any turbulence. I was scared again, though. But only mildly. The fears this time were more of…oh my god, eight hours over nothing but open ocean. What if there’s a fuel leak? What if we need help? What if that baby that’s already crying never shuts the fuck up? (It did…for about half the flight.) But other than that, I felt okay. At this point, I was the mildly annoying one that couldn’t wait for takeoff and landing, my two favorite parts. Unless turbulence, then yay! I didn’t actually say much, really. But the one or two people nearest me got to hear about my love of a rattling plane.

Other than that, I started turning my attention to the differences in airports. And learning to dread them like actual seasoned travelers do. I’ve already mentioned my loathing for the Newark Airport and getting miffed at the Atlanta Airport. And the crowds. Oh my god, the crowds kept my stomach in knots.

This time, though, I experienced something completely different. Flying into Europe, for some reason, we skipped over France and landed in Frankfurt, Germany. And what a weird airport it was! There were these floor to ceiling glass booths. Maybe about eight-foot square. And it was crammed to the gills with smokers. It was so weird and cool and brilliant. Because smokers who aren’t allowed to go outside and smoke will kill you. At the time, I was a smoker. But I wouldn’t go into the booths, because they were so full of smoke that I knew it would wreck me, give me a royal headache and make me smell like one giant walking ashtray. No thanks. And I was never one of those to verbally attack other people when I hadn’t had my nic.

The Charles de Gaulle Airport was awesome. Crowded, as usual, but it looked so cool. Plus it was crawling with French people, and I caught snippets of conversations here and there that I somewhat understood. And I was in heaven.

Stephanie Anticipates Flight Thirteen (maybe this flight will change that to a lucky number)

It’s been years since I’ve flown. Despite all those flights, most were connections. So there have only been two trips that required airplane travel. I’ve done some road trips in the meantime, two pretty epic ones over the last two years. But I can’t do a road trip this time. There simply won’t be enough time.

I’m planning a trip during the President’s Day holiday. And since that’s only three days, a road trip that far is out of the question. There would be no time left for shenanigans! Y’all know I struggle with anxiety, so it’s a pretty big deal that I’ll be going to meet a fellow blogger. A really fucking cool one at that. We’ve had some epic conversations, and I feel perfectly at ease. I’m excited about it, and hey…I am a woman and all, so the good news is I have a whole month to pack for the three-day jaunt. Ha! Hm, maybe four. I could always take an extra day off work and an extra suitcase. (Kidding. I’m pretty simple. Mostly.)

Plus, I’ll get to experience a new airport. I suspect it will be hell, too. It didn’t take long for me to dread airports, and I do. But I am very much looking forward to the flight and the landing and the visiting. I drove through the area once, but I didn’t stop. And I certainly didn’t meet an awesome blogger. And I’m no longer afraid of flying. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to this trip.

So for now, that is all I’m gonna say about it. More to come! In the meantime, do you have any flight or airport stories?