Feelings of excitement are trumped by a sense of fear that increases as each minute ticks by and boarding begins. Strapped tightly into the blue leather chair, finding some comfort in the confined space of the middle seat, the heart palpitations kick in. Ten minutes on the runway, now fifteen. The longer takeoff is delayed, the more time I have to picture a million horrible deaths. We are fourth in line, third in line, next in line. Squeezing James’ hand as if in labor, all color drains from my knuckles. My whole body shakes, and I clutch tighter as the wheels leave the ground and the post-takeoff dip brings my anxiety to new heights. Please stay in the air. Please let us be okay. As if my thoughts are the only safety net between us and the rigid earth 35,000 feet below.
Believe it or not, I am not a novice flyer. This standard, never improving routine is all the justification that I need for a pre-flight drink. Unfortunately, the Delta terminal at JFK is nothing like the fancy new Jet Blue terminal. No nice restaurants, no fancy chairs, no new carpet. Plenty of dirt and grime, plenty of depressed furniture, plenty of confused pigeons. The only place for a drink was a crowded Chili’s with an overworked wait staff.
Have you ever been to a Chili’s? I was in shock. All items are labeled with calorie numbers–many are over 1,000 calories and some surpass 2,000. I ordered a side salad and a glass of white zinfandel. Luckily, I was not expecting much.
Watery iceberg lettuce salad. I scraped off the cheese–
The calming elixir–
You are crazy if you think that filled me up. A few minutes later, I pulled out my emergency Larabar.
Due to my will power alone, the takeoff was smooth and without incident. The flight to Salt Lake City is a long one, so there was time for dinner on the plane. I cannot express the joy that was felt when I was handed a menu and spotted an almond butter and grape jelly sandwich. Almond butter? On an airplane? Yes please! (Due to banned cell phone use on flights, I was unable to capture the glorious find, but I assure you, it was beautiful)
Another panic attack and short flight later, James and I landed in Eugene, Oregon. We sped off in our less than equipped rental car (manual windows, manual locks–really?), to meet friends at Turtles. We were celebrating Josh’s 30th birthday and drinks were flowing freely. James and I had been up for nearly 24 hours, but seeing good friends for the first time in 15 months was worth it.
Tomorrow: birthday breakfast, Eugene Saturday Market, wedding