Thursday, October 9, 2014

fear of flying

I’ve actually been to more concerts than I claim. Perhaps because I’ve been impressed by so few, so I only lay claim to the ones that really have stayed with me as an overall experience. It’s not so much that I have outstanding expectations; it’s just what I remember that matters. On this one occasion, I spent the evening at concert that was fun but not particularly memorable, except that the day after I had to fly somewhere (and, honestly, I do not recall where) and it had to be without a doubt the absolute worst flying experience of my short life.

There’s a certain discomfort in traveling. On the one hand, I absolutely love traveling. On the other hand, I absolutely hate traveling. The packing, the physical discomfort, the rupture to one’s schedule --all just things I could happily do without; I look forward to the day when teleportation is a real thing.

On this particular occasion, I don’t recall the cattle-call like feeling of rushing to the airport, bags half-packed in a hurry, only to encounter long lines in the interminable security lanes and then squish into a seat that’s actually fine for me size-wise, but almost never so for my more robust row-mates. No, on this occasion, the only thing I remember is how badly my eardrums hurt when we finally took off.

Chewing my gum, looking out the window, and not expecting anything more than the usual very slight pressure, the intense pain took me by surprise. I was practically crying in my seat; my eyes were watering, at least. I wanted to cry out, but I kept my discomfort to myself. At some point, in the haze of pain, I realized my eardrums were paying me the price for being overtaxed the night before, at the concert which hadn’t been all that spectacular anyway.

Now that they were being subjected to the sorts of pressure no human was designed to suffer, my eardrums felt as though they might explode in impotent rage. I felt nothing else but this localized pain; the rest of me did not exist.

The intense pain, as though a hot drill bit were being driven into each ear, seemed to last forever. Would the plane ever reach a cruising altitude? Were my eardrums actually bleeding? Would my eyes stop watering?

Am I nervous about flying now? No, I still look forward to each flight and each trip with anticipation. I know, as long as I don’t go to another concert the night before, I will be just fine.

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