Among the Clouds

We’re leaving on a plane soon. On a plane with rows of seats, and tiny portholes to look out and watch the city below shrink into one tiny brown dot. And everyone sits nonchalantly with their hands folded neatly in their laps or quietly flicking the page of a magazine. As if nobody cares that they’re defying gravity. They’re all flying together in a metal tube thousands of feet above the ground, the same ground that they all securely walk on everyday. The ground that keeps us all safe and… well, grounded. Nobody bats an eyelash, because it’s normal. It became normal somewhere in your life and you’ve accepted it. But that never happened for me. It’s not normal. It’s magic. To float above and be among the clouds, to fly beyond the birds and feel the weightlessness and the slight bumps of the plane beneath my feet- my feet that were once standing on solid ground.

It’s magic, and the thing about that is, I don’t believe in magic.

I have this ritual during take off. Where I sit very still, and I look out the window, and I pray. And when the plane’s wheels lift off the ground and my stomach drops into my ankles, I clutch hard at the arm rests and my whole life flashes in front of me. My husband’s smile, Hudson’s eyes, and Berlyn’s constant melodies, the feeling of their soft skin, my shoes, the black leather ones that have the consistency of melted chocolate, the smell of my bed, my mother’s voice, my favorite sweater, all dance in front of my eyes, as I look out the window, and I’m okay. I tell myself that it’s normal and I try to accept it.

But it’s the control that I can’t accept.

I

Have

No

Control.

If something terrible happens, I just have to sit, and wait until it happens.

Gulp.

But nothing terrible is going to happen because this is all very normal, I tell myself.

It helps to watch planes take off and land out of the giant windows of the airport. It helps to watch the flight attendants pass out soda and tiny starchy bites to everyone when we’re flying, and it helps that my kids are coming with us.

This will be their first plane trip.

And they are dazzled.

They are so beyond excited, and they think it’s normal.

They think it’s magic, and they still believe in magic.

And it’s my job for them to continue to think that. Because I cant’ pass all my psychosis off on them. They have to create some for themselves.

I have to appear normal, unaffected, I have to relax my hands off the arm rests, and pray quickly, because there will be juice boxes to open and coloring books to find in my bottomless bag, and there will be no time to realize that I’m no longer in control.

Because being in control is highly overrated.

3 thoughts on “Among the Clouds

  1. I can totally relate! 3 years ago at nearly 42 I took my first plane ride ever when we went to Hawaii to celebrate 10 years of marriage. I have always had such a fear of falling out of the sky. I mean seriously it’s the falling we all fear right? Everyone who knows me thought I would bail at the last minute and give up my dream vacation but I stuck to it, prayed through it and thank the heavens it was a smooth trip going and coming back! I haven’t taken another plane trip since but I know that even though I know what to expect the next time, the fear will still be just as overwhelming as it was the first time because, like you said, I’m not in control and I have to just sit and wait for something to happen!

    Traveling grace to you & the fam!

  2. Knowing that someone else out there feels like I do about airplanes is very comforting. I’m a complete spaz when it comes to flying- like panic attacks at the mere mention of the POSSIBILITY of having to fly. I like to sing “He has the whole world in His hands” over and over duing take off and landing because clearly I’m ridiculous and for some reason it makes me feel better. Also, it helps to watch the flight attendant’s faces- surely if something wasn’t normal they would give some sort of hint…right?

  3. this is so amazingly beautiful. And I totally understand. I don’t care HOW many times I have someone explain to me how planes actually work, I just don’t GET it. It’s not natural. I try not to think about that as I’m on board. (eep.)

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