Friday, January 27, 2012

My First Flight After 9/11 (Gulp!)

Right after 9/11, my oldest son turned 10 years old. My parents had promised each of my boys trips to Disneyland (that's the one in Florida, right?) when they turned 10 to be taken with "Papa." Ben turned ten in November of that year and his trip was up.

I was terrified. With what had happened just two months previously, I in no way wanted any of my children on any airplane. But I sucked it up and let him go, because who am I to deny my child the funnest four days of his childhood just because of a few horribly misguided terrorists? I hyperventilated while the flight was in the air and I hyperventilated until I got the call saying they had landed safely. And then I hyperventilated the entire time they were on the plane coming back.

Since then, the other two boys have gotten their Disney trips as well and all remember them very fondly. Justin has traveled by plane to various places on business. My parents have flown all over the place. My best friend has flown from Hawaii to Seattle to Dulles and back to Seattle and then to California (I'm probably getting the order mixed up, but she's had a lot of flying time. My mother and my aunt flew to Alaska to take a cruise.

It would appear that I am the only one with "airplane phobia." Well, I would say it's really more of a "crashing" phobia. Apparently, I started to worry it immediately after making my plane reservations last month for my trip to South Carolina tomorrow, because earlier this week, my therapist said, "You know, you've brought up your anxiety about the airplane every week for the last several weeks." She knows me well.

I don't feel like I'm that anxious about it. But the truth is that I have not been on a plane since Justin and I went to Cancun when Ben was three, so, like, 17 years ago. And that flight hit major turbulence on the way home and the plane dropped a thousand or two feet in an instant and I spent the majority of the flight back putting fingernail marks into Justin's arm and crying. And I swore that if when we landed on the ground safely, I would never, ever go anywhere again that required air travel.

And then the world blew up when four planes were deliberately crashed on 9/11 and that just reinforced the fact in my mind that you really should not fly anywhere if you can avoid it.


My parents decided that where they really wanted to live was somewhere there wasn't winter. They don't like the cold, they hate the snow, and my dad wanted to live somewhere that there are a lot of golf courses so his business might actually take off. Seeing as how he makes golf clubs, the Myrtle Beach/Hilton Head area seemed like a logical place for them to go. It's warm, it's close to the ocean if the grandkids visit, and there are nine golf courses and no club makers in the immediate vicinity of their new house. Where I will be traveling, by plane, tomorrow, because there is no way my achy body can handle a ten hour car ride. Actually, I will be taking two planes, because I have to change flights in Charlotte. Apparently, I thought taking off and landing once on the way down and once on the way back wasn't worth an extra $50. I'm rethinking that for next time.

When I told Justin how anxious I am just about switching planes, he asked me why I didn't just go online and upgrade it to a direct flight. Great idea! Except that would have cost us another $150-$250 and there is no way I am going to pay as much as the original cost of the tickets to upgrade to a direct flight so now I am stuck with a plane change in Charlotte, both going down and coming back.

So, I've told Justin where my life insurance policies are kept and that I haven't paid the mortgage yet, so if my plane crashes, he will need to make sure that gets done. (See, I'm on top of things here.)

And, of course, I wonder if they will miss me. I am doing everyone's laundry today, but I will be gone for six days and there is no way they can make it that long without someone figuring out the washing machine. Justin knows how, but he's kind of busy with the whole work thing, so maybe one of the kids could throw some clothes and some soap in and actually turn the machine on (unlike the time I told Ben to put the wet towels into the dryer and he did exactly that and I came home to a dryer full of wet towels).

Justin tells me there will be a lot of pizza and hamburgers next week, which I find kind of funny because I am just now starting to take over some of the cooking chores and he was usually the one to prepare our meals.

I suspect I won't be missed terribly. The boys do their own thing and Justin is swamped at work. But I do suspect they will miss all of the little things I do that they don't notice, like taking their dirty dishes down to the kitchen and making sure they have clean clothes for school and taking them to Game Stop. And Justin is sure to notice that I am not continuously talking to him all day while he is trying to work.

You know, this might be a big chance that I am taking by leaving for six days. If they like it, do you think they'll change the locks and "forget" to pick me up at the airport?


  1. I can understand your anxiety Chelle. I make at least 1 trip per year via plane and occasionally those thoughts pop up in me too but I love travel and refuse to let anxiety stop me. I bury myself in a book or movie to take my mind off it. The more you dwell on it the greater the anxiety grows so take some deep breaths, try to relax and enjoy the flight :) (And I know that's easy for me to say but I used to be a severe agoraphobic. Buses terrified me but I tried to slow my breathing and relax and eventually, after a lot of effort the attacks subsided and I'm fine most of the time now).Your family will be fine too :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I have quite a good bit of agoraphobia as well. And flying - I swore never again and then my parents had to go and move on me. Oy!

    Okay...deep breath and off to get ready!



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