OH. MY. GOOOOOOOOOOOD. I woke up to the absolute insanity in Boston on my phone, computer and tv. I am really beyond words. Ally and I are supposed to be on a 7:30 p.m. flight back to Boston tonight, but looks like air space is closed for now, so we’ll see.
But I saved this guest-a-thon for today, because like Janetta, I too, don’t love to fly. It’s a great piece–funny and smart, like Janetta, herself.
I met Janetta because our kids went to school together. She’s an intelligent, funny and hip single mom of a great girl. She is also a spectacular cook and great writer. In fact, she has a well written, and awesomely fab blog about food you can go and read: http://umamis.blogspot.com. And now, Janetta, my sister in flight.
Name: Janetta Stringfellow
Occupation: Director of Development at Commonwealth School
About me: I’m mostly a mother of a teenage daughter, but I’m sure there’ll be time to focus on myself soon… really.
WHEN THE PILOT TURNS OFF THE FASTEN SEAT BELT SIGN
I’m grateful for the un-illuminated fasten seat belt sign – the signal that everyone on the flight deck believes that we’re all going to be okay, even if I’m still fairly skeptical. As I write, I’m 35,550 feet above the ground somewhere between Boston and Chicago. Were people really meant to be 35,550 feet above the ground? Other people fly to Chicago or even Timbuktu and never give it a second thought. Clearly I’m in charge of doing all the thinking for them. First I look around the gate to see if the faces of the passengers seem like faces that might crash. I’m not sure what specific characteristics I’m searching for, but I’ll know them when I see them. Babies are a good omen for some reason. And people with soft, beautiful, expensive leather luggage who look like nothing bad will ever happen to them. There’s like no way they’ll never make it back to their house in the Hamptons – their luck is too good. Once, I was on the Delta shuttle with Maria Shriver – she had her first baby with Arnold in her lap, and I was SO excited. MARIA SHRIVER’s not going to die, I said happily to myself, and I dared to recline in my seat and open my book. And then it hit me – SHE’S A KENNEDY!! All bets were off.
Anyway, after the wait at the gate, my real job begins. The universe apparently put me in charge of keeping planes in the air, and there’s a very specific step-by-step process. As I approach the plane from that dizzying tilted passageway, I check to make sure that there aren’t any cracks in the fuselage and that the aluminum (or whatever planes are made of) looks sound. Next, I look to my left into the cockpit to confirm that the crew is made up of real people who most likely don’t want to die either. During take-off I close my eyes, count to 10, and say the Lord’s Prayer twice silently (but while actually moving my lips). And then I order a Coke. Lots of times I don’t want a Coke. I want water. But, I don’t deviate. It’s too big a risk. Throughout the flight I’m responsible for listening to the wheels go up, and the engines whir, and whatever mutterings the flight attendants say to each other. It’s very important to ensure that all the right noises are happening at the right time. I never go to the bathroom – I don’t like my feet pushing down on the bottom of the plane. I’m sure there are heavier people than I am who walk back and forth willy nilly, but I try not to let that bother me.
I practice constant vigilance, but when the fasten seat belt sign goes off, I breathe a small sigh of relief. Maybe everything is going to be okay after all, and for that I am grateful. Perhaps I can read a book or take a nap (well, a nap is inconceivable, really), or I take out my headphones and watch the in-flight entertainment. Maybe. We’ll see. Chicago’s a long way away and a long way down. I don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Other things I’m grateful for? Xanax. But I seem to have forgotten mine at home. And, I’m grateful for Toni, for giving me a distraction in this tin can in the sky. Hope your flight to Miami was fab.