The first flight from home to Charlotte ended as the rough ones always do, with me painting my cheeks black and red (one day I will see the folly in wearing mascara on airplanes and leave the makeup for when I land and the danger of tears has passed) and the lady sitting next to me asking if I’m ok, and trying to comfort me with tales of her own adventures to Paris. How foolish I must look, this 32 year old woman, all a blubber in her seat. To be fair, we did fly through fairly mean skies. The lady next to me was hanging onto the seat in front of her and the crew suspended refreshment service because it was too rough to walk up and down the unsteady aisles purveying pretzels and pouring beverages.
Before the second flight, I welcomed defeat and took the pill. The real life Chill Pill the collective They are always suggesting we take. I was already rattled and the thought of an 8 hour flight threatening any more of THAT and it was all I could do to keep the hysterics at bay.
I finally found sleep courtesy of gratis wine and the tiny white pill. They’re leftover from a prescription gone long unrefilled. I’ll tell you about it one of these days. On the ground I’m loathe to take so much as an ibuprofen unless the need is serious and something like wisdom tooth extraction is involved. Up here, it’s all bets off. I’d pay an upgrade fee if first class included an IV sedation drip. 4,200 miles of oblivion please. Disconnect my hep-lock when it’s dinner time, thanks.
Somewhere over the place where the Titanic sleeps, I dozed likewise, and was then quickly reminded where I was, and that one shouldn’t be so easily lured over by the benzodiazepine sheep, because planes are given to going bump in the dusk. The terror crawled back to me slowly, pulling itself up the carpeted aisle from some place where we only hear shadows, filling the holes in my drowsy consciousness.
Is it the helplessness? The lack of control? I am aware of the statistical bubble wrap around me. I’m safer up here than I ever am down there. Yet the moment the atmosphere begins to roughhouse with this Airbus A330, suspended above the North Atlantic, I find my own breath playing hard to get. Perhaps it’s because I’m frightened of what I can’t understand; this great, hulking steel tube, all clumsy wings and heft, just flying through the air, it is inverse to all that I know to be sane and logical. Though I suck at math and his fraternal twin, physics, so my logic may be incomplete.
In my car I can brake. Or swerve. But way up here… I feel alone. Left naked before the devices of the unknown, the blackness that lives at 39,000 feet. Up here it’s -79 degrees F, and the winds can’t be trusted. We’re running through them, parting them with this wide body fuselage, and at some point in the miles, they want to play.
The flight attendants announce it, the turbulence. They’d like for us not to get up.
It stops only long enough to be cruel, and then I am suddenly aware of how quickly we are moving and we hop up and down in the frigid tumult. Nothing outside that window is friendly. Not that I’ll look. I feels less real with the plastic shade closed. I think back to my college classes – I was a history major – and I long for the good ol’ days, the days before innovation and aspiration put us up here. What I wouldn’t bargain to be on a ship right now, steaming slowly and secure, snug upon the ocean towards Cherbourg.
Blue Eyes is sleeping next to me, a persistent state since the empty dinner plate left his lap tray. I feel both comforted and alone – comforted because he’s clearly not concerned, and alone because he’s not present to hold my hand and let me cry my mascara all over his shirt. I wonder if a dark button down was a conscious decision. I’m pretty sure that in my state of worry the past several days, I’ve made him to feel that I don’t value our honeymoon.
We’ve landed safely here in Paris, and so now, onward, to the part where I demonstrate how happy I am to be here, you know, now that we’ve landed safely in the City of Lights.
Follow along live on Instagram, and I’ll check in with more words later this evening.
Or this morning. Or yesterday.
Time zones are weird.