Sunday, February 5, 2012

Shakin' in My Bulkhead Seat

Photo found on ©Jeff Finkelstein.

After I accepted my new freelance gig a week and a half ago, the company's CEO asked me if I could fly up to San Francisco for a day of introductions, strategy talks and team-building. Although I loved the idea of meeting my new coworkers, my immediate thought was, "Yikes, I really don't want to do that."

The older I get, the more nervous I feel each time I fly. Particularly when I'm doing it alone.

About 7 years ago, I happened to be wearing a necklace of my grandmother's when I flew to New York, and ever since then, I've packed it in my bag with me like its some sort of disaster-defeating talisman. Unfortunately, my good luck charm only alleviates so much of my anxiety.

In the days leading up to my flight to Oakland last week, I was a ball of nerves. I could picture the plane going down and how sad Mr. Wonderful would be when he found out he'd been widowed. Yes, I know I should probably renew my therapy membership...

The morning of my flight, I awoke at 4:45, got myself ready, packed two necklaces that I thought could protect me from death, and kissed my husband goodbye, uncertain of whether I would ever see him again. Dramatic, much?

I went on to have a fantastic day.

That's the crazy thing about my fear of flying—once I'm actually doing it, I'm not scared anymore. I actually really enjoy having the time to read and relax. And on my flight home later that night, I purposely sat on the right side of the plane so I could take in the California sunset. Burning below me along the horizon of the Pacific Ocean was one of the most beautiful, deep orange glows I've ever seen. Inland, the city lights were twinkling white and red, reminding me of the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland. It was gorgeous. It made me thankful to have the opportunity to fly.

It's funny how often the leading-up-to part of situations is so much scarier than the reality of them. Whether you're flying or meeting new colleagues for the very first time...


  1. I start chanting prayers in my head when there's turbulence. Let's just keep that between us, okay?

  2. I started flying at a very young age, so I think it's sort of ingrained in me, like being in a car - no big deal. But, I once flew with a friend who was deathly afraid of flying. She was so clearly nervous, white knuckles and all, that she actually made me start to feel nervous, too.

  3. I am lucky to not have a fear of flying-- that must be so stressful. I do have a fear of airports, though, which is A) mostly in my head, and B) is mostly based on people and germs. Nice, huh? :)
    Glad you had a good meeting. Yay!

  4. don't like to fly? I'm surprised since you travel so much! Glad you had a good day in SF and congrats on the new job!

  5. About the only flights that make me nervous are those into St. George. Bouncing around in a 30 pax turbo prop headed straight down to land on the ubershort runway on a mesa top (affectionately referred to as the S.S. St. George by all the pilots). Yeah, a bit hair-raising. Otherwise, it's all good.

  6. I have a talisman to ward of death and disaster, too. It's a necklace with THREE charms of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel. I'm with ya, sister.

  7. AHHHH! I wrote "to ward of death" instead of "to ward off death." Toward death? Now I'm going to have to chant, spin around three times and do the hokey pokey and turn myself about to undo what I just did!

  8. I completely get this! Sometimes dreading something makes it seem so monstrous that it feels really good to conquer it and make the best of it. :) I'm extra happy you didnt' get stuck sitting next to someone stinky. ew.

    I hope you had a good meeting too! :)

  9. Mandy - My lips are sealed. I'm usually too busy white-knuckling the armrests to pray.

    Nilsa - That whole fear transfer thing is probably why I feel calmer when Mr. W (the pilot) flies with me!

    LesleyG - We're total opposites. I love airports. Could hang out there all day. Hope I didn't just jinx myself...

    Laura - I know, right? It's not that I don't like it - once I'm doing it, I'm fine. I just get nervous leading up to it if I have to do it alone.

    Hunner - I would need a diaper for flights like that.

    Janice - I just hokey pokeyed for you too, so hopefully your talisman is all good still. You have St. Christophe to keep you safe now - you don't need the charms anymore. ;)

    Miss McCracken - It's so true. The anticipation is so often worse than the actual event!

  10. You could fly back and forth to New York every day for the rest of your life and nothing would happen. You have a better chance of being taken out driving to the market.


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