I suppose at times we must give in to our spectacular displays of irrationality, and just sit in a corner and cry it out.
The past several nights have been unquiet ones. There is a low pressure system above my head, swirling its blue-black free convective disarray above the mahogany four poster. A Boeing Triple 7 just committed unexplained suicide over the Indian Ocean a half turn around our planet, and I’m boarding an Airbus A330 bound for Paris this Sunday.
I’m a nervous flyer. The fear has been my constant travel companion since I was small. This little tugging can always be counted on, joining hands with any impending trip and keeping the anxiety dial just a nudge above normal until I’m home. It’s usually easy enough to dust off the table and for the most part live my life over and around without much hinderance.
This time, though. This time, it did not take kindly to dismissal. It dusted itself off, military marched right up to my shin, and walloped a swift kick. I happened to be at my office when it happened. I had just placed a very expensive lens for my camera in the virtual shopping cart on Canon’s website, when I was smacked sideways with the certainty that I should be saving this money for my dad so that he could use it for my funeral. That a purchase this large was wasteful seeing as how I’d never make it home to really use it. That I should make certain to leave the instructions and vet numbers for my bird and my dogs because I would never return from Europe.
Feeling the need for a cool darkness, to escape the harsh light of the reception desk, I bolted to the back room. I slid to the floor, the eggshell paint gripping my sweater and pulling it up my back as I hit the berber carpet. And there, in the back corner of my darkened office, I put my forehead on my knees and I cried. Heaving sobs pushed my small form further into the corner where the ‘fridge joined the wall. I fumbled my phone out of my pocket, pulling the white cotton lining out with it as I wrested it free and dialed my husband.
Crying catches him fully off guard and uncomfortable, but he did his best to sing my fear to sleep, telling me we were sure to have a vacation of a lifetime and that flying was so safe, especially after an incident when everyone is on their best behavior. Besides, if we were afraid of everything that could happen we’d never leave our house. A conference room full of people waiting for him tends to be the norm over there, so he told me he loved me and not to be upset, but that he had to hang up.
I pulled my contacts list up to the Ds and touched the Dad entry. It rang almost to voicemail but he caught it before the recording. I immediately wailed into my lap “Daddy I’m scared! I don’t want to fly! I’m scared! I took my lens out of the cart because that’s $1,300 you might need for my funeral if I don’t come back…”
My dad works in aviation and can usually be counted on to talk some sense into me by way of friendly physics. But this time there was no explanation of the mechanics of lift and drag. He gave me the best hug a dad could muster over a cellular signal, and just said “Oh Seal, I know. I’m scared of flying, too, and I work with airplanes. But your Papa is looking out for you. He’s next to you all day every day now and I know with every part of my heart that he would never let any bad thing happen to his princess. When it’s your time, it’s your time, but we can’t ever be afraid to live while we’re able. I’m so sorry Seal, but I’ve got to go, we have an issue here at the station that needs immediate attention, but I’ll call you the second I get back inside”.
Wiping my cable knit sleeve across a red and soaking face, I nodded, and put the phone on the carpet beside me. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’ve seen too much to dismiss the notion. I’ve felt too much. And now, here, in a wrinkled ball on the floor of a dark storage room in a deserted office, I couldn’t deny that nearly to the day that my Papa left us, more good has come to wrap its arms around me than any one person should meet in a lifetime, let alone 11 months.
I suppose to be benevolently haunted isn’t the worst pickle a girl could find herself in.
I sniffed. “Papa?” I tested into the quiet empty. No sound came above the whir of the servers behind the closet door. I tried again.
“Papa it’s me. Are you here? I need you. Please, please, keep me safe. Keep us safe. It was always you flying that plane. You’re doing a real good job. Stay with us, ok? I love you.”
And with that, I gathered my legs from under me, and I stood.
I felt for the first time in weeks, that every little thing might just be ok. They were right. One can’t ever be afraid to live. Especially when one is benevolently haunted.
Sitting down at my desk, I placed the Canon 135mm f/2 L lens and the speed light back in my shopping cart, and I clicked Checkout.