The wind swayed through my unwashed hair as I carried my physical and emotional luggage up the airplane stairs. Whilst holding my passport and electronic boarding card, I tried remembering what seat I had been assigned to, silently praying that it wasn’t a window seat. Finally fleeing the cold, I walked into the airplane and was welcomed with a “Bonjour et Bienvenue”. I couldn’t help but notice that the air steward who had greeted me was very handsome. He had brown wavy Shawn Mendes hair with a Don Draper cockiness. Alas, a dapper easyjet air steward was only a futile distraction from my brain thinking, “well Dora, this is the last time you’re ever going to feel the ground beneath you again.”
I walked through the narrow airplane corridor, awkwardly moving my body sideways and to my delightful surprise noted that Satan himself had assigned me a window seat. Ah yes, the window seat, famous for triggering murder instincts in your neighbours if you kindly ask to go to the toilet. The seat which some might claim offers you a “view”, but what I ‘d rather call a constant reminder of “HOLY SHIT WE ARE SO FAR ABOVE THE GROUND”
I sat myself down and immediately tried to distract myself with some hyped-up new self-help book on my kindle. My brain was battling between focusing on the book and genuinely wondering if the pilot was sane or had a secret death wish. Mercifully, I spotted a new distraction to stop thinking about the unpredictability and impulsiveness of human behaviour. The handsome air steward was commencing the safety demonstration and I decided to be the most attentive passenger, as if my life depended on it. Well, that was until I saw a ring on his finger and suddenly, it didn’t feel as important anymore how I should inflate my life vest. Yeah sure, wish me a safe and pleasant flight, let’s all collectively ignore that we are stuck in a death machine together.
The airplane started roaring and I was pushed back into my seat, in panic questioning if science really could lift this airplane off the ground. The plane roared into the sky and as if I was a trendy creatine shake, it decided to flip my intestines up and down. I felt my stomach curling and my entire body tensing. I decided to try my new breathing exercises to calm myself, which naturally didn’t work jack shit since oxygen is just fake news. Instead I started silently begging for the seatbelt light to be switched off so that we would finally be in cruise mode. At least in cruise mode, I could pretend there’s a giant holding the plane and not some so called “forces”.
I wondered how I could get rid of this stupid fear of flying, not in the long term, but right fucking now. A part of my brain recalled a passage from a book I had read where it said, “we create fear to stay in the scenarios in wwe are comfortable in”, or something like that. Instead feeling enlightened, I got very triggered, because I am literally putting myself in the scenario in which I am the least comfortable in. I’m sitting in a claustrophobic and shaking tube, 10 000 meter above the ground and I’m legitimately wondering if I am going to poop my pants.
Intellectually arguing with myself didn’t seem to work, so I decided to tackle fear another way. Since the dark lord had sat me in the window seat, I, with false determination, looked out the window challenging my fear of being above the ground. “Yes, I am looking at you, you stupid clouds. I’m not scared of you fluffy looking pieces of shit. HA!” For about 10 seconds, I was convinced that I had succeeded until another turbulence hit the plane and I was, yet again, one millimetre away from grabbing the hand of the 30-year-old annoyed lady sitting next to me.
What had always calmed me during flying, is either touching other people (consensually) or talking to them (semi consensual). I started wondering if maybe I’m not really afraid of flying an airplane. Maybe my fear is a mask for my urging need to be talking/touching people. And then I thought, wow Dora, don’t open that pandora’s box and focus on the fact that you are dying instead.
Sick from psychoanalysing myself, I went back to my fight or flee response. Everywhere in the plane I’m looking for signs that this plane is in fact going to crash. Sometimes the signs are symbolic, for example they might mention something about plane crashes in the book I’m reading. Other times, I wonder why I heard the same “beep” sound two times, is that a warning sign for “oh oh, the pilot lost control”? I also notice the other warning noises, for example if the airplane usually made a bjuuuuuuuuu noise and now it’s making a bjaaaaaa one. Are the pilots aware of this or am I the only observant passenger besetting this life saving information? Oh my God, I’m going to have to land the plane, don’t I? In panic, I am moving my head in every direction I sense danger while I am holding hard onto my seat, hoping there is some secret parachute function of it that they just forgot to tell us.
My spoiled bladder is desperately trying to get my attention, reminding me that the 40 cl cappuccino I had before boarding is completely insensitive to whether I’m dying or not. I decided to yield to the little brat’s need by going to my favourite spot on earth, the airplane toilet. I swayed back and forth as I made my way to the luxurious WC while wondering how the mile-high club is even a thing. How can one ever feel like making love in a tube 10 000 meters above the ground when death is sneak peeking through the window? Or maybe it’s similar to a “I’m going to war tomorrow and this is my last night” sort of romantic setting. Sudden turbulence interrupt my thoughts and I hurry the process so that my head won’t be flown in to the roof.
I sway/run back (think of Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception) to my seat and quickly tighten my seatbelt. Woo, finally safe, thank god. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are shortly landing, please fasten your seat belt and something something your tray table.” Oh lord Jesus I made it. I haven’t landed, but in Dora land, landing is the same as landed. Feelings of Euphoria hit me, and no turbulence could take away the fact that I am a survivor (and also religious apparently). I look at the faces of my comrades who have, together with me on this trip, also survived this great test of faith. Even though they all look bored, I am convinced that they are just as relieved as I am. I feel like Abraham must have felt when God told him that he didn’t need to murder his son Isaac, relieved and looking forward to the 10 years of therapy which he and his son must go through to put this little incident behind them.
Finally landed, I come off my high and am instantly bored again. What is life if not this adrenalin rush? I get off the plane and think to myself, “I can’t wait to do this all over again”.