Keep Your Seatbelts Fastened

My least favorite season is almost upon us. My wife has plotted to reembark on the sunshine state. My in-laws live there, and to no fault of their own, I am not looking forward to traveling there. Have you ever taken a flight with three kids? I don’t recommend it.

Is it complete and utter lunacy to suggest driving the minimum 18 hours it takes to cover the 1,250 mile distance between Queens and Delray Beach? Quite possibly but after the flights of last year’s visit I think I’d rather drive. Shit, after the last two flights I’d rather opt for the 431 hour walk.

I know most people love Florida and the beach but I don’t care for either. I like being in the ocean but that’s it and after a little I’m ready to come out. Y’all can have the sun and the sand. I don’t want it. I have a timer set on my phone counting down the minutes until the sun explodes. 7 billion years to go.

It’s estimated that the sun will most likely vaporize the Earth’s oceans in a billion. So there’s that.

After lugging our three kids and our best child, Bella, and the rest of our shit through Laguardia, and after all the TSA eye rolls and attitudes, endless bullshit checkpoints and security measures, we board and I thought the worst of it was over.

I like taking off. That is the most enjoyable part of flying for me but lately I have felt more anxiety than I have in forever, nothing is completely enjoyable because my dumb brain is overthinking and fucking up the moment. The plane climbed through the clouds to get to the preferred altitude to coast but immediately the flight was bumpy. It was unnerving but it was probably just a rough patch.

The pilot came on the loud speaker, telling us that he thinks we’re through it and the remainder of the flight should be smooth sailing. Scratch that. He came back on minutes later to tell us to fastened our seatbelts and to remain seated because we’re all going to die. He didn’t actually say the last bit but he probably should’ve mentioned it because that’s how the majority of the flight seemed.

Abby.

I sat with Abigail, and each time the plane felt like it was falling out of the sky, I looked back at my wife, who sat with Aoife and Gunnar, and shot daggers from my eyes at her. We’re going to fucking die and I don’t even like Florida. On the surface I was calm, as I straight lied to my daughter’s face telling her that it was normal, just a little turbulence, and that there was nothing to worry about as the other hundred and some odd passengers cried and screamed and prayed. Jesus H. fucking Christ, man.

People like to call those people who clap when a plane lands assholes. Rightfully so. We bobbed and weaved through the Gulf Stream, as if we were in a B-17 bomber facing heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ground below. If the flight was 3 hours long, we got tossed around for 2 hours and 47 minutes, and I kept track of the diminishing time on headrest tv, weighing the odds of our survival. So yeah, we were assholes and we clapped like we just completed our twenty-fifth bombing mission against a German submarine base in Lorient. We clapped like the name on the side of the plane didn’t read Jetblue but motherfucking Memphis Belle. I clapped like the Mets just won the World Series. I’m not proud of the things I’ve done, sir.

I never wanted to take a plane ever again and dreaded the fact that I would be back on one in less than a fortnight to go back home.

I wouldn’t have said that I suffered from aerophobia before but maybe it developed over time. I used to be fine on a plane, drunk but fine. It’s possible that fatherhood had triggered a staggering awareness of my mortality, mixed with a profound discomfort of putting our lives in someone else’s hands. Whatever the primary cause of this fear was didn’t matter, each time I was asked about our flight or the thought of shoving off popped into my mind a frown formed on my face and a pit grew in my stomach.

Aoife.

And before we knew it we back on a plane heading northbound to New York City. I tend to fret over things and then afterwards I’m relieved that none of the thousand negative things I conjured and replayed in my head came to fruition. It seemed like that was the case with our flight home. It was nice. I sat with Aoife, and we had a fun time, I even had a beer or two. Things were going swell.

“Please, take your seats and prepare for landing.”

The exact moment the rate of climb was reduced, and gravity tugged at poor Gunny’s stomach, buckets of vomit poured in every direction from behind his little forced mask. It was everywhere, and he was blinded momentarily by puke. Abby was yelling at the risk of getting vomit on her, which there was, but then again there was puke everywhere. I got up to try and help my family seated behind me, if anything to console my son, and was scolded for standing up during the landing. I had a sick three year old and I needed help to which there was none given.

The plane landed safely at Laguardia though Gunny was drenched in vomit and crying. Abby was still complaining. We had to wait for all the other passengers to exit the plane. A nice family offered up their cache of baby wipes when the saw we had depleted ours cleaning the half naked boy. The stewardess and some others were clearly disgusted, and immediately I envisioned drowning them in the East River, and I wonder why they somehow think I’m ecstatic to be in this predicament. Who doesn’t relish the smell of regurgitate? Yeah, I was waiting for this happen the whole flight, you dumb bitch. I have very little tolerance for humans. The stewardess did show me where to discard the vomit covered baby wipes and assorted napkins by motioning her foot toward the garbage chute in the back of the plane. Such a sweetheart. And to think we almost made it home without a catastrophe. So close.

A long road trip might easily present it’s own laundry list of disasters but I’m game.

I’m not delusional, I know that I will at some point have to fly somewhere on this rotting sphere, and I have no hard feelings with JetBlue but the Wright Brothers, those two assholes can fuck off. On second thought, that stewardess can fuck off, too.

3 responses to “Keep Your Seatbelts Fastened”

  1. I can SO relate! The only thing that was missing was a passenger fist fight, an engine catching fire (happened twice in one hour to my mother), a man having a heart attack and forcing an unscheduled landing, and a flight attendant yelling at you. Oh, I almost forgot: a stranger barfing her poor guts out less than 8 inches away from you. I’ll walk the 431 hours with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lace up your sneakers. I’ll bring the flask.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, you said it all when it comes to air travel. I used to enjoy it, but in the past few years I’ve had some off-putting experiences, like so many other people. One time we were on a flight with turbulence AND a bunch of high school kids coming back from a sports tournament, and whenever the plane dropped, all those kids screamed. You can bet the whole planed clapped and cheered when we safely landed. (Whew!)

    Liked by 1 person

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