My bag is packed sitting by the door. My carry-on bag & purse are sitting nearby. In about an hour they will be hoisted in the car and I will be on my way to the airport to fly to Tampa, FL for a bridal shower – alone! For some unknown reason I have this tiny lump of fear stuck in my throat as if I had swallowed a grape and it got stuck halfway down to digestion.
How silly, I say to myself. For almost fifteen years I was flying about 50 percent of the time and not just local or even coast to coast, but worldwide. I would park myself in the limo and off we would go. I would check my bags, or sometimes not, and blithely pass through security and take off at a nice pace down the long halls to my gate. If I was late for a flight I was even known to sprint. Sometimes I’d stop for a bite to eat or buy a magazine or two. Sometimes I’d just sit quietly and wait for boarding. Once aboard, I’d toss my coat or bag in the overhead, settle in with my book, pray for a safe flight and be perfectly happy.
Only once was I fearful in an airplane when one of the engines caught fire just as we were about to take off. I remember thinking that I hoped the pilot knew about the fire. He did, we taxied back, changed planes, and all was well. Otherwise, I was a fearless flyer. So why this fear today?
Well, I guess for starters it is because I am older – not old, just older. The hinges don’t work so smoothly anymore, I don’t bounce the way I used to, and my hoisting capacity is rather limited to picking up the morning paper. Even my ability to walk long distances is severely limited and I need motorized or wheeled assistance for long walks these days. I haven’t traveled alone without R for over seven years and I have become dependent on him to make sure I was safe and secure.
Now, I am flying alone and no one will be sure I have a wheelchair at each airport to ferry me from gate to gate. No one will be sure that my coat is stowed. No one will be there to lift my bag off the baggage carousel. They don’t even have porters anymore. And, so I am alone and that grape is stuck in my throat.
Buck up, Rita! You have a voice and can use it to ask for help. People love to help. With proper planning at the check-in you’ll have your assistance at each gate. Your flights are spaced so that you even have time to wait for a lift if necessary. You have everything you need in your carry-on bag, including your meds if your bag gets sent to Portugal so no sweat there. You are smart enough to wear loafers that come off easily so you can go through security quickly. You are even leaving your laptop home so you don’t have to deal with that hassle.
You can do this, Rita. Yes, I can and I will. I think sometimes we let our fears overtake our sensibilities and rational thinking. Someone once said that fear is the opposite of faith. Well, then there you are…with faith I will fly alone with confidence and hope that the grape gets down to my belly before I land in Tampa!