I'm a little nervous about flying. I'm not a white-knuckle flier anymore, but I have a certain amount of apprehension before boarding an airplane.
First, security. They're not nice. Well, I'm sure they are nice people away from their jobs, but in that line, they're all business. I've gone through my purse and made sure I don't have anything that might be considered a weapon or an explosive...crap, better take out that lotion...what about my nose drops? Better check the TSA site...oh hell, they have to be in a quart size ziptop bag. Never mind, I'll leave them here. I'll just have chapped hands and a dry nose.
Second, boarding the plane. It's like getting on the bus on your first day of school when you just moved to the neighborhood - I feel like everyone is looking at me. Luckily Maddy, Craig and I have the whole row so I don't have to climb over my seatmate. That's one way to break the ice - sit on a stranger's lap while trying to get by them while simultaneously ducking your head to avoid the overhead bin. I smack my head on that all the time. You'd think with all our advances in technology someone could figure out how the make the plane ceiling all the same height.
Third, take off. Whoever told me that takeoff and landing were the most dangerous parts of a flight really should have just kept it to themselves. The plane backs away from the airlock, I look out the window to make sure the luggage handlers aren't running for the lives (first sign of a wayward plane), and we begin our taxi to get in line for takeoff. I remember sitting on the tarmac for 30 minutes in Detroit and it was like rush hour traffic, speed up to move six feet, then slam on the brakes. I really thought we were just going to drive back to St. Louis.
The plane gets to the end of the runway, and the engines wind up with that high-pitched whine. Everyone tenses as we accelerate down the pavement, picking up speed. The ground is beginning to blur, the wheels are bumping on the concrete and you're being pushed back into your seat. Suddenly it all goes smooth and you watch the ground recede a few feet at a time, until the cars are toys on ribbon roads and the clouds cast shadows on the earth below.
Fourth, landing. Circling the airport, dropping altitude until I think my ears will explode with the pressure and then finally having the ground rush up to meet the plane's wheels with a thump, whoomp, and screech of the brakes. Once again, you're slammed into your seat by the force. This is my favorite part of the flight, when it's over. I circled Raleigh-Durham once in overcast weather, and it freaked me out, because I couldn't see the ground. The pilot had to hover for about 15 minutes before he could make his descent, and we didn't see the green, green grass of our home planet until seconds before we landed. When traveling at a high rate of speed, I like to see where I might wind up. It's just a quirk I have.
Once you land, people start gathering up their magazines, books and coats. If you fly Southwest they will also remind you to take your children. The lucky aisle sitters open the bins and start rifling through looking for their carry-on (or someone else's, if it looks better). Then they all stand in the aisle for 10 minutes until the flight attendant opens the door. Honestly, people, have you never flown before? The door doesn't magically open upon contact with the runway. Sit DOWN! You're making me claustrophobic. And of course I want to join them but I'm stuck under the overhead bin and I'm too tall to stand up straight.
Fifth, luggage retrieval. I really want to ride the luggage carousel. I don't know why. It just looks like fun. My luggage has pink and white polka dot ribbons on it. Some people put so many ribbons on their luggage - just pin a homecoming corsage on it already. I really want hot pink luggage. Or one of those old fashioned Samsonite round cosmetic cases. Tres retro!
Anyway, if you're lucky, your luggage comes quickly, and you're not standing all alone watching a forlorn cardboard box making an endless loop.
The best part of flying? When you find your ride, give him or her a hug, load your luggage into the car, crack open a nice cold one (if you're met by my family, coolers are de rigeur), and thank God you're there, safe and sound.