Monday, April 9, 2012

Flying High

Scotland has come and gone.  And it was amazing.

But no trip to Europe starts out great.  Why?  Because it inevitably involves this (hopefully minus the lightning).

Photo originally used in this post where I similarly rant about my flying phobia but similarly survived yet another trip.  
So I do my normal thing.  Pop a xanax before the flight.  Pop another one right before take off. Pray that the drugs have enough effect to put me to sleep so that I can sleep through all the inevitable turbulence and anxiety and potential sudden death by fire bomb, if it comes to that.

Needless to say, when I arrived in Edinburgh I was relieved.  The flight was over.  My friend, Nigel, was waiting at the airport for me with a huge smile.  I was on vacation.  I had made it.  My children were not rendered motherless.

It was morning in Scotland, and I had the whole day ahead of me.  To be honest, with the jet lag and xanax hangover all I wanted to do was sleep, but I fought it off, knowing that the only way to adjust to the time change was to tough it out until at least 8pm.   Perhaps sensing this, Nigel decided to take me on a tour of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas in his newly purchased vintage Jaguar convertible.  The ride was awesome, but it was windy.  And cold.  On my face. Mission accomplished - it woke me up.

We stopped at a pub for lunch (fish and chips and a glass of wine, thank you very much), and on our way back to central Edinburgh, Nigel pulled into a large farm area.  He mentioned that he had a friend there that flew planes.  Nigel has been flying helicopters and planes as a hobby for a while now and has met a lot of interesting people in the process, so I figured he just wanted to introduce me to one of his friends who happened to be in the area.

As it so happened his friend, Jim, was home, and he was lovely.  Jim was on the older side, and mentioned that he just got back from the gym, and was working out at his doctor's suggestion due to a heart condition.  Despite our unexpected visit, he suggested we go visit "the hangar."  Hmmmm.  Okay.  We drove across a field or two, and there it was - his own aircraft hangar with several planes, all of them being of the propeller, WWII, crash into a crowd at an air show variety.

I took some pictures.  I had a cup of tea.  And then Jim offered to take me up in one of his planes for a quick scenic flight.

The irony of this was not lost on me.  I had just disembarked a commercial flight where, despite statistics and rationality, I was convinced of my own impending death.  I was still experiencing the remnants of the anti-anxiety medication that enabled me to make the journey.  And that was on a large, frequently inspected, these things never crash ever commercial jet flown by professional pilots with health screens who didn't have heart conditions.  No, this flight would not be like that.  It would just be me.  And the pilot.  And this plane:

It was just too perfect.

I had to do it.

He loaded up the fuel.  And by loaded up the fuel, I mean took a handheld gas tank and poured it into the wing of the plane.

Then he started the plane.  And by started the plane, I mean Nigel had to physically start spinning the propeller in order to get the thing revved up for the engine to kick in.

I had a seatbelt.  And windows on both sides.  And by windows, I mean, if I wanted to open them (which we did at one point), it was to the open air.

The weird thing is, I wasn't scared one bit.

I flew.

And it was beautiful.

And I felt free.

And my life back here in DC - with all its stresses and all its joys - seemed like world away.

It was just me.  And Jim.  In the air.  Soaring over the coast and hills of Scotland.

It was exactly what I needed.

I won't call this conquering a fear.  Just two days later, I was back at Edinburgh International Airport, taking a xanax and trying to manage my anxiety over boarding my United flight home.

But it gave me hope.  Not hope that I'll get over my plane phobia (that will probably never happen).

But hope that I can still surprise myself sometimes.  

That I can be whoever I want to be.

That there are still adventures in store.

That I am still evolving.

And changing.

And that every once in a while in life, I can throw my hands up in the air and say, the hell with it.

That I can fly high.


  1. I have to say, that flight cap is v.fetching.

  2. Beautiful photos! What an incredible experience. I am so glad you went up in that plane, and I love how you ended the post--knowing that you will continue to surprise yourself in the future and looking forward to new adventures.

  3. To adventures, conquering fears, and surprising oneself! Hear, hear!

  4. Wow! Beautiful! What is that in the second-to-last photo? A castle? Spectacular!

  5. Looks like a great time! You know, I have to say, even though you do not think so, you sure have a glamorous life for a stay-at-home mom. Most stay-at-home moms have to put their Europe trips on hold for at least a few years. I know I have. I haven't had so much as a vacation to the beach in almost 2 years. You should recognize how rare your lifestyle is and how lucky you are.

  6. @1:39- I do know I am lucky. But it takes effort and resolve on my part. I feel guilty about doing it and spending money and leaving my kids. But at the end of the day, it does WONDERS for my mental health, and I'm a better mom for it. I think every mom deserves a break - if not necessarily a Europe trip, then a night off, a manicure, a girls weekend, etc. So be sure to treat yourself too!

  7. Love this! So hopeful! Agree that even little outings do wonders for mental health.


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