Nothing to fear but fear itself

I knew I was in trouble as soon as the pilot announced turbulence was expected and the flight attendants would be required to stay seated during the flight. Great. I wouldn’t have the reassurance of them pushing their carts cheerfully down the aisle while I sat white-knuckled, my seatbelt securely fastened. I felt queasy the minute I heard “turbulence” and wished I could rethink my decision about the glass of wine I had an hour earlier that was intended to relax me and calm my stomach and the fact that I skipped the Dramamine this flight. Queasiness led to outright nausea, as I anticipated the bumpy ride and my inability to enjoy the smooth part of the ride because I knew I was fixated on turbulence.


Adding to my distress was a pizza the woman across the aisle had carried on and stowed under her seat. The smell of the pizza, whether real or imagined, caused me to search for that little bag in my seat pocket and to hope I wouldn’t wake up my seat partners with the retching. I was also debating the merits of not having eaten before the flight and figured that with my stomach doing flip flops, it was probably a good thing.


To hasten sleep and escape from the dealing with turbulence in total consciousness, I clenched my eyes shut for the entire flight, as if the harder I clenched, the better my chance for deep and immediate slumber. The only result such intense furrowing of my brows produced was a wide-awake headache.


The flight was eerily quiet, but every once in a while, I would sense the shadow of someone gliding past my seat and was relieved to think that if I had to make a mad dash to the bathroom, no one would wrestle me to the ground.


A pilot once described turbulence to me as just like waves on the water – kind of literally going with the flow. Much as I’ve tried to wrap my head around that, all I can think of is our fateful trip on the barf barge (yes, that’s what they called it) sailing fromCopper Harbor,MichigantoIsle Royale.  The horror. Visions of group motion sickness danced in my head and accelerated my nausea.


Turbulence has never killed anyone, so that same pilot went on to say. Uh huh. But there’s always a first time and a person could die of fright, maybe. With my eyes shut, my stomach on edge and my wide-awake headache, I waited for the inevitable bumps and drops and rocking of the plane, but it never happened. Nope. It was a pretty smooth flight. Even though I imagined the worse and fretted and planned to lose the lunch I hadn’t had, I realized that I had literally and figuratively made myself sick. Either that or I had really slept through the flight and the whole ordeal was just a dream. The bag was still in the seat pocket, the pizza was still across the aisle and I was now inMinneapolis. Huh. Makes me wonder about the time I dreamt I ate a giant marshmallow, only to wake and find my pillow missing.


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One Response to Nothing to fear but fear itself

  1. Marilyn says:

    I can’t tolerate anything more exhilerating than the carrousel at Disneyland, yet being on a plane fills me with awe every time! I want to scream at the passengers who are reading, sleeping, or engaged in any business other than looking out the window, “Hey! We’re sitting in comfortable chairs 5000 feet up in the air! Pay attention! Look out your windows and share my joy! It’s a miracle!” People who actually cover the window to prevent themselves (and me!) from seeing out or to block the light so they can sleep leave me speechless. I have boarded flights after being awake for over 24 hours (sleepless from the anticipation and excitement of flying) and would NEVER, even under those circumstances, have entertained the idea of a nap. Thanks for letting me “walk in your shoes” and understand how others might not share my excitement. Going forward, I will carry eye-masks and Dramamine in my carry-on, in case I find myself flying with someone like you. I wish you a lifetime of uneventful and turbulence-free flights.

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