First, watch this video.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD2NtzEPBcA]
The genuine reactions of these two women to their first ride in a plane EVER, reminded me of my own very first flight. I can relate to An’s anxiety and skepticism, and Ria’s wonder and glee. I, like An, wondered how in the world could a giant metal ship with wings get so high above the Earth and stay there for several hours with so many people and all their belongings!?
A mixture of the two, I sat in my seat on my very first airborne trip with sweaty palms clutched together tightly, and my face pressed against the window watching in awe as the world, once surrounding me, grew smaller with each passing second. Soon enough the plane was inside the clouds. INSIDE! I was so tickled with excitement I can’t even count the number of times I turned to my neighbor with wide eyes and an even wider smile.
Reminisce With Me
My destination was Rolla, MO via a direct flight from Boston, MA to St Louis, MO where I would be picked up by my friend, Brian, to drive the remainder of the way. Before purchasing the ticket I researched model 747 planes (but steered clear of crash reports), causes of turbulence, and remedies for air sickness. Then I started taking Airborne to “boost my immune system” as a friend had suggested to aid in not catching a cold on the plane.
I packed and repacked my black ADIDAS gym bag with all the essentials (most of which were never even used) to carry onto the plane with me so, you know, my bag wouldn’t end up in Texas or Florida. I chose a direct flight, despite the higher price, to obviously avoid getting lost myself at the layover airport and missing the connecting flight and getting stuck at that airport forever with absolutely no way of getting either back home or to Rolla. Oh my active little imagination!
It was a rainy, mid-November flight so I missed out on the spectacular view my window seat would have afforded me. But, I did experience the exhilaration of turbulence! On solid ground I am not biggest fan of carnival rides, especially roller coasters, so, queasiness aside, I was amazed at how much enjoyment I felt from a shaky flight.
Above all emotions soaring through me those first 3 hours in flight, I was thrilled to see the person I took this first flight for. Brian is man I’d met over the summer on Cape Cod during a routine shift serving cocktails and stuffed quahogs to karaoke-singing tourists. The relationship was short but the feelings were intense and genuine, so we kept in touch at summer’s end when we both went away to college. After months of phone and instant messenger conversations Brian convinced me to buy a plane ticket to visit him.
I needed convincing because I was a little afraid of flying, of actually being suspended up to 7 miles above the ground inside a giant machine that, with wingspan, will not fit within the bounds of an NFL football field. I think I was more afraid, though, of screwing it up big time, which is apparent in my lost luggage and missed connecting flight scenario I had imagined. I was also afraid of getting airsick, or someone getting sick on or near me, a phobia I’ve had since childhood. This I blame on my little brother and classmates who just had no self control! Hmph.
The Travel Tingles
Up until this flight to St Louis, cars, buses, subways, or ferries got me to where I wanted to go, which was really no further than the greater northeast region of the US. Oh, and Montreal, Canada once or twice. Every new place I visited I would feel a little tingly on the bottoms of my feet, and super giddy and a little nervous, too.
I got the same tingling sensation on the bottoms of my feet when I stepped off the plane at the St Louis airport. Only this time it was electric and it coursed through my body making me jump up and down, holding Brian’s hands, saying over and over “I’m in St Louis! I’m in Missouri!” Brian mirrored my actions, jumping in place saying “You’re in St Louis! You’re in Missouri!” His excitement for my presence just fueled mine even more making me jittery.
The difference between these tingles and the others was the realization that I had just been magically transported half way across the country in a mere 3 hours. It literally blew my mind. Had I driven the 1200 miles to St Louis, in a straight shot, it would have taken 18 hours. I didn’t own a car back then, so my transportation method of choice would have been bus or train which would have summed up to nearly 2 whole days of traveling. Flight is a wondrous thing, why had I waited so long!?
I never shared these tingly feelings with anyone in fear of being thought of as silly. It never seemed like such a big deal to anyone else, so I’ve always basked alone in the glowing euphoria.
So much of my life and who I am today has been fostered from this one pivotal experience. This maiden voyage was the exact point when the travel bug truly became a driving force in my life. My need to see new places, confidence in myself to face fear and overcome obstacles, and my choice in college education, and thus the trajectory of my career, were all influenced by this one trip to St Louis. I couldn’t possibly have more gratitude for Brian’s stubborn refusal to never see each other again, and his endless encouragement to “just get on that plane!”
An and Ria were both held back by fear. An’s own fear and Ria’s suppport of her husband’s fears kept them from flying until they were in their 70’s. I wonder if their trip together to Barcelona sparked some latent wanderlust in them, too.