I’m going to India, despite my fear of flying. I mean, I just flew to California in December… but I was not excited by it, and had anxiety nearly the entire time. Landing was my favorite part because it meant we were finally on the ground. I am very partial to the ground. The things we do for our children, right? In December it was for my son whose band was one of only eight bands selected outside of California to march in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Being a senior in high school, it was his final big band trip. I couldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t miss it. I decided to bite the bullet and go even though a fear of flying has haunted me for over 20 years. As a matter of fact, the last time I had flown, I was coming back to Missouri from California with a 1 year old little girl, and very pregnant with Crystal.
Here I was again, facing a flight but this time it wasn’t quite as simple as a jump to Texas, then a little jump to California – no. It was half way around the world – the earth – the big blue ball – to a country I had never imagined visiting. My daughter is so very happy, so very in love, she is getting married. I found myself having discussions internally about how this was going to happen and I need to just find a way to be okay with flying – for her, for love. I got on the plane.
The first flight was about as scary as it could be. There was a lot of turbulence, the weather was unkind. Crystal got to see firsthand just how scared it really made me to fly. I think she was surprised, I don’t think she has ever seen my genuinely afraid of anything. She did her best to calm me, I was so proud of the brave woman she had become, and watching her comfort me made me see her more as a woman, and less as a little girl – although she will always be my little girl. I was thankful when we landed safely on the ground.
The next flight was delayed upon departure due to weather. We sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours until finally the captain was told to taxi us back to the gate and deplane all of the passengers. The weather somewhere between Chicago and Newark was just too bad and they were grounding the flights going that direction. Some people were very angry, I, on the other hand, am very thankful that they care enough about people to not put them, their equipment, or their staff in a bad situation. What do you do when you are stuck and waiting is mandatory? You find a coffee shop, of course, and unwind with some smooth coffee and chocolate flavors. Even though this delay would lead to us missing our connecting flight out of the country and was possibly the beginning of a horrible downside to flying, we knew none of that in this moment. This moment was just for us, in a crowded airport, we being happy as larks to be on this epic adventure together. A few hours later, the weather lifted and we flew to Newark. The captain made the movie watching option free to all of his passengers for compensation for the delay. That was nice. I tried to invest in a movie but felt uncomfortable watching my initial selection with the people around me. It was a bit intense and I wasn’t sure if others would be uncomfortable with the content. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I was concerned about the possibility of turbulence. This flight ended up being perfectly smooth the entire way. I was beginning to feel better about flying.
When we got to Newark, we had to find out what time we could get another flight out. We gathered our things and headed to a long line of people who were angry about missed flights. These people were being very rude and ugly to the customer service reps. They were demanding things and not getting what they were asking for like free hotel, etc. Again, we were upset to have missed our flight but we also appreciate not being put in a plane in an unsafe sky. We approached the customer service reps very differently and just asked when we could catch another flight. Their demeanor was very different to us, they apologized, let us know that our next flight wasn’t until 5pm the next day, and they gave us a free room at a nice hotel, and free food vouchers to eat there. We didn’t demand anything. Our family believes in grace and dignity, along with scruples, and let us not forget kindness. These customer service reps did not make the weather that caused the ATC to ground the flights which lead to missed connections.
Off to the hotel where we enjoyed late night pizza, hot showers, and soft beds. We slept for about 8 blissful, much needed hours, and then awoke to pack up and experience brunch at the restaurant. From there we called an Uber and ventured off the see that Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Bridge, Ellis Island, and the New York City skyline. It was a great impromptu trip to Liberty Park. We aren’t the kind of people that just sit around and fret, worry or complain, no, we make the most of our given situation, and when you are 15 minutes from New York City, how can you not go see it? (Best idea ever, Crystal!!) So although we were delayed, it seemed like the Universe was giving us some very special mother/daughter bonding time.
Low and behold, our flight at 5pm was delayed due to waiting for paperwork so we passed the time with conversation. This flight we were sitting across the aisle from one another. We flipped through the movies and finally found one that we would watch simultaneously once the plane leveled out from takeoff. I am not fond of takeoff and until the plane levels out, I am really uncomfortable. So after the awaited leveling, we began our movie. Once the movie was done, we napped… well, she napped while I listened to music and played games. It’s hard for me to relax in a moving vehicle. I made friends with a Russian lady sitting next to me who didn’t speak a lick of English. Before takeoff, she had shown me a piece of paper and a question in English on it – “May I use your cell phone to call my daughter?” The number was a U.S. number, so I dialed it and handed her the phone. She spoke briefly and then hung up, handing me the phone back with a smile and sincere “thank you”. During the six hours of flight I found out her name was Vera and she was going back to her home in Russia after visiting with her daughter and two granddaughters who live in the States. She showed me several pictures on her tablet. They were all beautiful, of course. I found a language learning game on the plane and chose Russian, of course. She giggled and helped while I fumbled through language learning games. The six hour flight seemed to go pretty fast. I think it would have gone faster if I could have slept, but it just wouldn’t happen. To me, the best part of flying is landing. We have arrived in Germany!