Friday, January 22, 2010

How in the world did I wind up on a plane to London???

A few months ago a friend invited me to London. Her invitation arrived via email on a day I was feeling blah and unaccomplished. Shall we say generally morose? The price was fabulous and the possibility for adventure was endless. I did some soul searching, talking things through with J, some financial consideration, and when the stars were just perfectly aligned, I committed to London.

Then truly before I knew it, I was boarding my first airplane. We connected from Denver through Charlotte, North Carolina. The weather had been quite touch and go the last few days in London. The airport I was flying into was actually closed when I boarded my flight. The tumultuous weather didn't help ease my anxiety ridden flying state. I'm one of those people that listens closely to every single odd sound that an airplane makes while flying. I constantly think is that normal, is there a problem, are we going to divert to a close by city? Will I be a part of an emergency landing? Yes, as you can imagine those thoughts are quite tiring with very long travel days, which includes a transatlantic flight.

There were many moments on my connecting flight that I wished my flight to London would be cancelled. I thought through plan B, which seemed just perfect to me, I'd rent a car and drive to Asheville to visit some friends for the weekend. I would be fine not going to London. But it didn't happen. When I arrived at Gate D1, my flight was on time. I questioned the weather in London with airline staff and she simply replied, "I don't know what the weather is like, but the pilot says it's a go".

During my short connection, I called my parents to say goodbye for the week. I could feel tears well up in my eyes. I was feeling scared about facing my fears of leaving my girls and being so far away, coupled with the intense anxiety that surfaces while flying. I frantically texted J and was relieved to read his texts back to me, which were very grounding and calm. He's good for me like that.

Just like that, I was hopping on an airplane for an eight hour transatlantic flight to London.

If I said I could've filled a shot glass with the sweat that was released from the palms of my hands during my flight, trust me I wouldn't be joking. I have a friend that could testify in court my anxiety and nervousness were through the roof, oh and of course I am sure I had lovely flushed red cheeks. I couldn't eat during my flight. But quite honestly there came a point where in my mind there was no turning back. I was simply at the mercy of all those grandiose notions, such as fate and destiny.

I wrote this at one point, scribbled quickly during my flight. I'm not quite sure if it makes sense, but it did to me in that moment:
When you're present mentally, when it's so easy to escape there is so much personal growth. My palms sweat, I felt sick to my stomach, but I just simply faced those fears. I am here in my mind, with no real distractions. I am present.

Although I had hopes of sleeping on my red eye, with a 7 am arrival in London, I was not able to relax enough to fall asleep. I would simply push through a sleepless night for our first day in London, no napping for me. I'm a mother, sleepless nights are our rite of passage.

Before I knew it our wheels touched down amidst fog and close to zero visibility. I was shocked the flight was over. I think I even said, that's it, it's over??? I was in London. It was time for my adventure to begin. I had survived, not just physically but more importantly, I had survived emotionally.

To be continued...
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Special thanks to my friend JL, who accompanied me and my neurosis on both flights and during our trip to London. It certainly was one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

7 comments:

  1. Anytime mate, it was a trip of a lifetime.

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  2. Yeah! I'm so glad you conquered it. And glad you had a wonderful time, too! :)

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  3. I'm one of those - 'loves to travel, but has anxiety over flying long distances' myself... at least you had the presence of mind to breathe and be in the 'now' ..Travel companions are great for easing worry. I too would have experienced all of the mixed emotions you were feeling as a mom - but good for you for seizing the opportunity to go and doing something amazing for yourself!
    On a completely humorous note... whenever someone starts talking about their fear of flying.. or faulty issues with the plane - I can't help but think of the last episode of friends: "This plane doesn't even HAVE a falange!!!!" haha... glad you home safe and sound!

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  4. I'm so glad you made the plunge and conquered your fear. Bravo, bravo!! We had an amazing time, didn't we?! It was meant to be. Love you- Melissa :)

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  5. Did you have a really bad flying experience once? I used to be a great passenger since I was constantly traveling for work. I wasn't even bothered by rough turbulance anymore (unless there was "dipping" involved - I can't handle the tamest of kiddie roller coasters - so that's one thing that will always get to me). Then I had a really bad ten minutes on a flight to Denver. Actually - it happened 10 minutes after lift off from DC - but it was on the way to Denver. I think it was a wind sheer thing. Whatever - our plane was tossed about like a tennis shoe in a dryer for about five minutes and I thought I was going to lose my mind. Even the salty looking travelers sitting on either side of me were sweating bullets. Then it ended and the pilot says "well - I said it would be little bumpy..." I was seated two rows behind first class and I spent the rest of that flight staring at the flight attendants chatting with the first class passengers. I was convinced that as long as they were flirting with the rich guys, then all must be well. Now I have a lot of anxiety about flying. Even if nothing like that has ever happend to me since.

    And after all of that (sorry - post comment!)... I can't wait to hear about your trip! I love London.

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  6. I'm a nervous flyer too. Can't wait to hear more....

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  7. I'm so glad that you got to d o it! I'm a terrible flier too, so we should coordinate our trips!

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I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!