Sunday, April 1, 2012

Airplanes and Metaphors

I was just thinking about airplanes. 

Before this year, I had never flown in one alone. I was terrified of them, in fact.

This year, I had to take five flights by myself, back and forth to school. It got easier each time, but the base fear was still there.

One time, there was fairly bad turbulence and I was so scared I almost turned to the women chatting in the seats behind me, almost begged them to talk to me just to distract me from my terror. Ultimately, my social phobia stopped me, but I was this close. I needed the human contact, the human comfort. I couldn't bear the fear alone.

Another time, I got to the airport a little late and the check in line wasn't moving. I was staring at my watch, feeling stressed. I heard families talking in front of me, couples chatting behind me. A few we're growing impatient like me, and I could hear them asking each other "what should we do?". At that moment, I really, really wanted someone there to talk to, to ask questions to, to discuss, to solve the problem together. It was hard, handling it all on my own.

When I finally got to the check in desk, they told me I was so late that my bag might not make it on my plane. Again, here I was, unable to solve the problem. I couldn't take the bag on with me, because it had skates in it. I couldn't arrange to pick the bag up at the other airport later, because I didn't live in that city--my school was an hour and a half from that city, and it was difficult and expensive for me to get back. Most of all, I didn't have the money to pay for anybody to store it or ship it or anything like that. What could I do?

I had to take my chances, hope it got on the plane. Finally, I made it through check out and customs, but then I didn't hear the flight announcement they forgot to change the flight from "waiting" to "boarding". All I heard was "final boarding call" and I had to run to my flight. After I showed my boarding pass, I heard the guy laughing, saying "her bag sure won't make it on". I wanted to punch him in the face. I wanted to cry. I wanted help. But no, I was on a plane, alone. So I just tried to keep back the tears. It was a very hard day.

Now, though, I don't have anymore flights. Actually, that's no true. I'm going to British Columbia to visit family in a few weeks. But I'm going with my mother. And she can bear some of my worry, some of my fear.

It's all really a metaphor for growing up, I think--when you fly you get to go to new places, experience new things. But you also have to be responsible for yourself and your fears and your needs all along the way. And it's really hard.

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