I thought I was going to die.
Gripping on my husband’s arm, I winced as the plane continued to quiver as it made its way over the Atlantic. I glanced up at the flight map – we were flying over the middle of the ocean.
Visions of wearing a life jacket and floating on a raft sent a second surge of fear down my spine. A new quake of turbulence hit the plane, shaking it uncontrollably. It felt like we were falling.
I squeeze his arm again. “Is this normal?” he asks.
“No. This is definitely not normal.”
I would know. I spent more time on an airplane this summer than I did with him.
I stared out the window, into the darkness. The night cloaked the ocean below, but the thought of it below only increased my nerves. I hate the open water, and even more so being suspended over it. Driving over the George Washington Bridge gives me massive anxiety. The shaky tin can we were flying in over a giant body of water was enough for me to mentally draft my last will and testament.
“My nieces should receive all my clothes, purses, shoes, and jewelry. My UGGs will go to Katya, the vintage dresses to Mallika, my trousers to Saffrin. My cookbooks to my nephew Cahlin, my MacBook to my dad, my mom gets…oh my mom, she’s already been through too much this year…”
A tear falls down my cheek. I can’t die. I barely lived – I haven’t had children yet, I haven’t seen enough of this world yet. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next Game Of Thrones book…
Usually these rambling thoughts lull me into sleep. Usually, I’m lying horizontal in my bed, and not puttering my way across an ocean.
I try every calming exercise in the book – praying to elephant-headed Ganesha, visualizing a safe landing into the Madrid airport, deep breathing. In, out, in, out.
Nothing helps. All I can do is grip his arm, stare at the screen, and hope that it will be over soon.
Eventually, the turbulence subsides and I fall back asleep, though I couldn’t tell you which came first. It was poor sleep, but the sight of breakfast sitting on my open tray table was a welcome sight. A few bites of a still warm croissant and cups of sugared black tea restored my shattered nerves and rumbling stomach. The plane’s location over the northwestern coast of Spain brought much-needed peace to mind.
Another pressure hit me – this time, in my abdomen. Glancing up, I see the five people queued up in the aisle to use the lavatory. Another six are lined up in the back.
Using a airplane bathroom, at the end of a red-eye flight – yet another fear.