* waiting in the Charlotte airport with my mom
I am not a great flyer. There is a very good reason for the root cause of my flying discomfort, but this is neither the time nor place for that story. Let’s just say that my initial discomfort with flying came after a heartbreaking personal experience. Now, over time, the discomfort has been amplified by other issues and experiences.
First and foremost, I, for whatever reason, seem to believe that I have the legs of a six foot four man. Seriously. How can anyone sit comfortably on a plane for more than 2 minutes with leg space meant for a toddler? My legs need more room than that, and I can’t help but flail about every two minutes trying to find the sweet spot that will make discomfort fade away. I never find it, but it is not for lack of trying.
Then there have been the bad personal flying experiences. Like the overnight flight to Germany years ago where I was in the very last row right by the bathroom. By 11 pm, 500 people were in line to use the bathroom after an airplane meal and, well, you can imagine what it was like to sit trapped in all that for nine hours. There are other parts of that story like the opening of the cargo case above me that led to a raining down on me of hard plastic toys that belonged to the three wired kids under five sitting in front of me and traveling with the tired mom. It was a long night. And it didn’t sweeten my disposition for flying.
Then there was the flight home from our honeymoon in Scotland. BF’s dad sweetly gave us first class upgrades, and I thought that would be enough to negate the misery of flying. Nope, now, there were just new complicating factors. The one we couldn’t do anything about was the fact that we had taken a train 11 hours the day before from Inverness to London to make our flight so we were both worn out from sitting. But that wasn’t the issue that made me look at BF half-way through the flight and say, “If they gave me a parachute and said I could take my chances; I would do just that to get off this plane.” This is a very dramatic response for anyone, but especially someone who is known for being incredibly reasonable. But BF had befriended the flight attendant in first class who only had 4 people to worry about so she instead perched herself right in front of us for six straight hours and told us every inappropriate thing she had ever done. In detail. It was awful and uncomfortable, and BF wanted no part of it so he started to ignore her which meant that I was caught as this woman’s audience—when I hadn’t even said a word to get her started.
The situation on the plane from London became our personal point of no return as a couple. A couple months after the misery of that flight, we were flying somewhere else, and I was in the middle seat. BF leaned over me to start chatting up the person by the window and when she proved to be an oversharer, BF grabbed his book and tuned her out. I sat there for the next three hours and listened to her plight, resisting the urge to bury my elbow in BF’s side over and over again until he was more miserable than I was. As soon as we were off the flight and out of earshot of some poor, unsuspecting eyewitness, I told BF that he was barred from initiating conversation to anyone OVER me on the flight. If he wanted to chat for four hours, he would have to sit in the middle and keep me out of it. Terrorized by the idea of sitting in the middle, BF promised he wouldn’t do it again. Except. He. Just. Couldn’t. Resist. And the next person, of course, went to the oversharing place, BF’s eyes glazed over, and I was stuck, engaged in a divorce drama of epic proportions with an unsympathetic character. So, as soon as we were off that flight and, again, out of earshot of some poor, unsuspecting eyewitness, I laid down the Law of Flights for our household which was that we would both have aisle seats on subsequent trips for the rest of our lives. Three years later, that is still how we travel together.
And while I have figured out how BF and I can happily travel together, I haven’t figured out how to handle other flying hazards—the most offensive to me right now is the bathroom door issue since I am writing this while flying back from San Francisco on a 5 hour flight where I am seated directly beside the bathroom. And nobody closes the door when they leave the bathroom which means I am sitting in a haze of unpleasantness chased with the sickening air freshener they use in plane bathrooms. And while I want to say, “could you close the door please” after each person walks out, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve made like I am going to the bathroom a few times just so I could close the door, but I’ve got no other strategies and there are two hours left in this flight. What I wouldn’t do for my only problem right now to be an oversharer.