July 30th, 2008
Mommy Pie’s leaving for Hawaii tomorrow and wrote a post about how she’s nervous to travel, being that she’ll be away from her daughter for five days. And what a coincidence that was, since I planned to also write a post about an upcoming trip and why I’m afraid to travel (hint: has nothing to do with my daughters).
I’m afraid to fly, see. Absolutely, certifiably terrified to get on a plane. And I’ve got a trip to plan. But I’ve been putting it off. For too long now, I’ve delayed making the plane reservations for New York City in the fall, where I’m going to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ve dreamed of this trip for over a year and really really want to go, but I’ve got this plane thing and now it’s D-Day (really need to pick another label) and I’m dragging my heels.
The other thing? I’m going alone and without someone to inject me with horse tranquilizers or quell my rising screams, I’m extra nervous. Oh, I’ve flown before. Hundreds of times, many by myself. But my panic grows every year and it’s not pretty. I grab people next to me, I force myself on the pilot to smell his breath, I intermittently yell “We’re all gonna die!” and best of all: the second we take off, I unlatch my seat belt and start walking up the aisle, swaying as I fight the gravitational pull of the plane’s g forces, while ignoring the flight attendant’s attempts to restrain me. Somehow, I feel like I can still get off the plane even though it’s in motion. It’s a trick I play on myself so I don’t explode (need a new adjective) from terror and unregulated Xanax over-consumption.
After years and years of panicking every time I fly, my sister finally clued me in to why I may be so scared. Apparently, in high school I took a trip to San Francisco with my family. We flew out of O’Hare Airport and I guess over the Rockies, we encountered major turbulence. Seems it was so bad we had to make an emergency landing in a severe thunderstorm. And best of all? I don’t remember a thing about it. Post-traumatic stress syndrome at its best.
In the years hence, I flew again. And I never knew why I had a niggling fear bubble in my gut for each take-off. I went to school in Milwaukee while my family lived in San Diego, so I flew home often, but each time was drama. Parents coaxing me onto the plane, fervent praying, bargaining with God. Once, my dad even flew to Chicago with me and DROVE me to Milwaukee. Another time, I took a bus from San Francisco to Milwaukee. Which almost cured me. But then I did it again: taking a bus to Dallas. Nothing like being trapped on a Greyhound for three days with Jeffrey Dahmer look-alikes, many transporting ferrets.
And just so you know: I’ve done it all to beat this phobia. Hypnotherapy. Fear of flying classes. Support groups. Medication and cocktails. Resignation. The Rock says it’s a one-in-a-million that my plane will crash. But I say: why wouldn’t I be the one? He counters with, what makes you think you’re so special? And I say, exactly. I’m expendable.
So I’m going to make the reservations. Mainly because I fear the wrath of my brother, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, a smidge more than I fear fiery death. But if you live in San Diego, and want to escort a drunk, unmanageable, over-medicated nutcase on a transcontinental flight to NYC, email me! Also, if you live near New York and want to have a drink, or 15, please let me know. God willing, I’ll be there in October.
UPDATE: I did it and lived!