I'm writing this from a motel (Country Inn) in Reading, PA, at 2am. So my first flight. Well, I had trouble getting myself to leave the house. If you've never had a major fear/phobia, it is hard to explain exactly what it is like. It is like asking you to do something that you don't want to do, but multiplied by 1000; like if you don't like spiders, asking you to walk up to a spider the size of a horse and mounting it. Or something. Analogies suffer greatly at this time of night. So I was told - very astutely - to just do one thing at a time. I was all packed. I first had to drive to the Sharaton and park. So I did that. Good. Next step: take the shuttle. Good. Next step: I'm at the airport! But I'm already there. Horray. Might as well go through the kiosk.
At Southwest, you go up to a kiosk, check your baggage (and it's free for Southwest! Holla!), and print your pass. All very cool. Then it is security. I got blown with a blast of bracing air (supposedly at random they shoot people with air, the air blown is tested for elements that might suggest one has been handling explosives). Then I was chosen to have my carry-on bag meticulously tested. Lucky me. This actually was fun to me. Also, made me feel good because, yay, security! Then you go sit at the gate and wait. I had been given a small prescription of happy pills by the clinic doctor to get me through my first flight. I took a half of one as I sat at the gate. Ninety minutes to go. Then I spoke to my brother, then texted other people. Everyone, when they find out you've never flown, or that you're afraid of flying, has to tell you a story. Often they are horror stories, or at least, stories of "oh, you'll be fine, but sometimes __________ happens and it's scary, or _________ makes me feel ____________ and _____ ___ ____________." As in, things someone who has a phobia doesn't want to hear. So a half hour to go, I took a whole pill. (My doc told me to take up to two for the flight.) I got on the plane, ten minutes early! (Horray air travel!)
I sat on the aisle. My thinking: easier to get off the plane in an emergency (to hell with those other people, I'm getting out like George Costanza) and also, I'm less boxed in, so less claustrophobia (though I don't know if I suffer that phobia or not; better to not find out 30,000 ft. in the sky). The plane started to "taxi." (Why it is called that, I have no idea. In case other people want to thumb a ride?) As we taxied, I took another half pill. I'd taken my two. That's all I could take. (Rebel I am, I stick to my rules with medication.) I felt no better, really. But - I wasn't completely freaked. I was nervous, a little scared, and apprehensive. The way it works, the plane sits completely still. I thought maybe we'd found a fare. Then suddenly they hit the gas like Vin Diesel (my pop culture references are outdated?) and then next I knew, I look outside and Port Everglades is UNDERNEATH ME. Then I felt like "holy FU*K" and then "WHEEEEEEEEEE." I asked the guy at the window - bless him - to take the picture seen in the previous post. I pulled my laptop out and put in a DVD to watch. Didn't want to do that. Pulled out the book I bought on the way called "Flying Without Fear." Found that I should've read that book before the damned flight. Pulled out a magazine. This was good. I was interested. I would look out the window, marveling at being in the sky. Felt the plane ascend. I was frightened but not overwhelmingly so. Eventually, pulled out my iPod, listened to a flight playlist while I flipped through my Computer Music magazine.
Then, my memory failed me.
The two drugs apparently take a lot longer to kick in than I thought. I remember only shards of the rest of the night. Really, the rest of the next 24 hours. At some point, I had conversations with people. I can only assume I was able to conjure sentences in the English language. At one point, I got the hiccups very severely, and I remember the stewardesses giving me an orange drink and then a steady supply of water in those nifty little plastic cups. I vaguely remember seeing Philadelphia as we descended into the airport. At some point, against airplane regulations I texted Angela (the text didn't arrive until the plane landed; this I would know except my brain was in the midst of a rolling brownout). I landed. By the grace of a merciful God I found my luggage. I texted Angela some gibberish. One about not knowing where to go to find her. Another at how "shicked" I was at how fast the flight went by. Apparently, I still had the hiccups. Probably from the medication being too much for my system. I was given - in hindsight, this was a bad idea - a can of soda to help with my now painful hiccups. I downed the can of soda. I then had the Burp of Doom. You know, the burp that says "Warning: tangible material on its way." Angela - bless her - quickly handed me a sweater, which I puked generously into. I also got it on her car seat. (I'm sorry, Ang.) I then apparently fell asleep quickly as I was driven to our motel. (I have a text from this period of time that simply reads "hotdogs?" This apparently was her question to me - as I slept in the car, waiting - while she was in a store picking up a few things for the night. I was out cold, and therefore, there were no hot dogs.)
I then apparently slept through the night and into the morning, and waking me up at around 10am would have been easier with a Pulp Fiction-esque syringe of adrenaline to the chest. I still felt the effects of the medication for the first part of the day, but at that point, I was none the worse for wear, except strange and fragmented memories; and, of course, stewardesses glad to see me off their flight, and a very nice couple with a story of a very loopy jackass who sat next to them on their flight into Philly. Oh, and the puke came right out of Angela's car seat, thank you very much.
All that being said, I think I enjoy flying, and I'm looking forward (somewhat) to doing it again. At the very least, I don't believe I'll be very scared of it, though I imagine I'll always have some nervousness and apprehension of it because, well, that's the kind of guy I am. I won't be in any big hurry to be doing it, I won't seek it out, and I won't love it, but I won't hate it or be terrified of it. I will also never have Cherry Coke Zero again.
Please take a look at my PA pictures, if you are one to do such things, and I think you are: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickdaly/sets/72157623817110747/
More will be added as my trip winds down. PA is quite lovely, and I don't want to leave. In fact, I may end up not leaving, or at least, leaving, telling my boss and landlord - and, in as much as one can talk to a land mass, the State of Florida - to suck goats, and then coming back here and bringing my things with me.
That's all for now.