Monday, July 18, 2011


My heart races and my hands shake. I hear the ding and feel the rev of the engines as they are fired up. We gain speed, pushing down the runway, faster and faster until I feel the lift, reaching for the sky. I am breathing harder now, heart a flutter in my chest, as we shoot upwards. I'm frightened and a little bit exhilarated, but not sure which is the stronger emotion.

Some days, getting on an airplane is the easiest thing to do. The ability to travel for free, to go to new cities, see friends and family all over the country, is a gift. A gift that I have been blessed with for most of my life. My father was a commercial pilot, my mother a flight attendant, my husband a commercial pilot as well. I grew up in airports, on airplanes, traveling the world.

And sometimes its a curse. Because I can't control the irrational fear that overtakes me sometimes. I can't control the shaking of my hands, or the pounding of my heart. I can't control the tears that sometimes come unbidden, embarrassing for someone so seasoned at this. And I know it's irrational, unwarranted. That it is more dangerous for me to drive the hour to the airport than it is to fly. But still, sometimes it creeps up on me, surprises me as I board the plane on shaky legs.

I know that it's safe. I know that my husband does it 3-4 times a day, 3-4 days a week. I know that he wouldn't let me take the kid if it weren't. I understand the physics, understand the safety measures in place. But it doesn't matter. Because one day, I'll be totally fine, and the next I'll be a total basket case. It's a crap shoot.

But the thing is, I'll never stop flying. To me it is a necessity, my way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It can scare me all it wants, but I will never stop doing it. And hopefully one day? I will make this irrational fear my bitch.

What irrational fears do you have? How do you face them?


Sara @ Periwinkle Papillon said...

My irrational fear seems to be bridges. But it's growing on me which is more of a problem.
I loved your writing style! Hang in there and just grip those armrests really tight - I hear they are bolted down.

Marie said...

Forget irrational fear, I feel irrational ENVY right now!
Lucky you!

PS: It's ON for drinks at BlogHer!
PPS: OK, I admit I have a perfectly irrational fear of banana slugs. It's not like the can run after me, right? But they give me the heebie jeebies big time!

laura said...

i can barely breathe while i am flying. i grip the armrests...every bump, noise, makes me jump. my best friend from home's dad is a pilot for us air. he gave me a safe flight medallion waaaay back in high school. i hold it in my hand on every flight and rub it with my finger. i think i say every prayer known to mankind while we are in the air. i bless myself when we successfully take off, successfully land. dan thinks i'm nuts.

that said, i was much better when i was flying with all four of us...i figure, if we're going down, we might as well go down together...;)

Ashley, Brian and Drew said...

Ok guys, this makes me feel so much better. Sara, some bridges are definitely enough to make me nervous. The Coronado Bridge here in SD makes it feel like you are going to launch off... Marie, I've never seen a banana slug, and honestly, I really don't want to.
Laura? Take off makes me crazy. Hate it.

jeleystorey said...

Ahh! I love flying! Minus the general inconveniences that we all have to go through. My father was a captain for Delta so I too grew up flying and in airports. We always had to dress up to fly and as a kid that really bothered me. I wanted to wear comfortable clothes, NOT a dress! There was only one time that I actually felt like the plane was going to fall apart and that is when I was sitting over the back engine. I did a lot of praying for my son and I to make it! My fear IS totally irrational. I am afraid of dead bugs. Live I can pick them up and move 'em out. Dead? I start shaking. Ha!

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