Despair in the Air

December 16, 2010
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As we drive in the car, my eyes capture a plane passing by. At that the moment, I hear a muffled voice on the radio mentioning an airplane. My ears perk up instantly. My hand grabs the dial and turns the volume up. The reporter says that there has been a plane crash. My smile immediately wipes off my face. I feel the creases in my cheeks droop down into a frown. I stare out the window with my big wide eyes, following the plane through the sky. I squint, trying to see it until it disappears. I remember how terrified I am by them and how it happened. I wonder why the smallest things hit you hard.

I peering out the window with amazement on my face, I had placed myself between my mom and dad. We were on a huge blue plane, going to the Dominican Republic. The plane had taken off seconds previously and I was amusing myself with my Game Boy. My fingers were clammy and frantically jumping from one key to another, trying to beat the level I was on. Any 3rd grader would be doing this.

The plane jolted up and down out of nowhere. Screeches broke out. People were cursing and saying their prayers, since they thought we were going down. My little eyes wondered from my Game Boy screen to see what all the pandemonium was about. I scanned the rows of people and their faces. What are their problems, I thought. I went back to playing the game Mario and Luigi, on my Game Boy. My young mind, too small and not exposed to planes crashing or being blown up. I only wish that I could be that calm now.

Years passed by and I still had a tolerance for airplanes. I thought nothing of hopping on a three hour plane ride and then going on another one. Then this little event happened and changed me forever. I never knew that something that small could change my life in the blink of an eye.

The plane’s air conditioning nipped at my nose. We were in now in a small plane that held about fifty people. I sat with my friend, while my mom and her friend, Donna, sat behind us. We were coming back from Ohio So far, the ride home was extremely steady and everyone’s eyelids were closed, except mine.

I had been playing solitaire the whole time. I sniffed a combination of peanuts and wine. I wish I could be sleeping right now, I thought to myself as my fingers grasped on a playing card. I made a whooshing sound, annoyed that there were no moves left in my game of solitaire. I pushed the cards away wondering when the plane would finally land.

“Prepare for landing.” The pilot boomed over the speakers. My ears hurt as his voice crackled through the intercom with a weird buzzing noise. Everyone gathered their things except for Donna, since she still was in a deep snooze.
As usual, the landing gear howled loudly as we descended lower into the air. Donna woke up, looking startled. Her eyes were immense and filled with surprise. Donna unexpectedly shot up and started to shriek,

“The plane is going down! It’s crashing! Oh my gosh, we’re going to die!”

I could felt my body tilting to the side, after recently completing a tight sharp turn to the right. Thoughts poured into my head during this sharp turn. What is she talking about? Landing gear is suppose to make that sound, right? Why am I sensing such a horrible vibe? Thoughts like these went on for minutes straight; I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

Rain drop size tears spouted out of my eyes and panic slowly built up in me. I looked over, but my mom had been too busy consoling Donna to notice that I too was upset. My hands trembled, as I clasped them together, but my stunned body was motionless.
My mother didn’t find out until later that I had been phased by this occurrence. I told her that I felt frightened and that it was probably from the screaming and shrieking.

That night, everyone learned that Donna had a horrific fear and anxiety of flying. It had been too late though, for I had seen and heard too much.

A couple years went by and I hadn’t been on a plane since that incident. Finally the time came for my family and I to go on a plane ride to Colorado. On the way to Colorado, I felt spooked, but not to an extensive point. The plane ride back was a whole different story.

I remember walking up to this plane thinking how it was the same size as the Dominican Republic plane. It also had great TV’s too. The darkness painted the sky and leaving the only inside the plane. We were on a Redeye flight. The plane lifted up into the sky and almost right away, everyone fell asleep; except of course my mom and I.

At first, my mood felt neutral, not thrilled, but also not frightened. . The cabin vibrated up and down, shaking everyone. It felt similar to a car going over a bump or a gravel road, except we were thirty five thousand feet higher up in the air. My moist hands clung on to my seat, my fingers curling up, gripping harder and harder. My eyes clenched shut, trying to block everything out. The last bump did me in. Tears, yet again, streaked down my face, dripping right into my mouth. I swiped my sleeve across my face, trying to get the salt water taste away from my lips. My heart beat rapidly beat faster and harder. I gently placed my hand over my heart, trying to calm myself down before having a panic attack.

I then started to think of Donnas’ episode on the small plane home, generating horrible scenes. Remembering Donnas’ freak out, I started to invent worst case scenarios. Some went along the lines of this; the plane crashing, catching on fire, getting sucked into a storm, and many more. As you could see these scenarios did not end happily. As these thoughts kept reoccurring in my mind, my fingers wrapped around my mom’s hands and squeezed them as I gazed out the window. Darkness still was spread out across the sky.
Twenty minutes had passed, and the turbulence remained the same. I tried to distract myself by watching TV, listening to music, and attempting to read. None of it worked. I thought about the Donna experience again and again, which made it twice as worse. I now was crying and just felt a pit in my stomach. It got to a point that the flight attendant came over to calm me down.

“Why are you upset? Everything is fine it’s only turbulence. Don’t get worked up, this is normal. Please, it’s going to be alright. .”

Even though her voice soothed my ears, I hadn’t heard or listened to a word she said. The words breezed past me, almost as if the words bounced off my head and didn’t sink in. I didn’t believe in the woman’s calm voice, at least at that time.

As time went by, I occasionally got shut eye in that plane ride. However, I woke up to every slight sound that I heard. Something as quiet as someone moving their seat back or as loud as the plane gear going on and off caused me to jerk.

My question today is; why can the smallest things hit you hard? I still can’t answer that question, but I try my hardest to stay positive on planes. I can’t erase what I have seen or heard, but I can try to remember all the good times I experienced on planes. I do continue to wonder if I would have been afraid of planes if I didn’t go on that plane with Donna. Only time and a couple of plane rides will tell if I can get over this fear.

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