Because I have the odd luck bestowed upon us middle children (see middle child syndrome), many of these flights have been less than pleasant due to rather unique circumstances.
One time I sat between two Polish couples on a flight from London to Chicago. The couple to my left argued quite loudly in what I can only guess was Polish, leading the husband to disappear for two hours on the trans-Atlantic flight while the wife bawled. Awkward. Meanwhile, the husband of the couple to my right read an extremely racy women’s magazine while his wife hacked, gargled and coughed directly in my face, leading me to believe I had caught some fatal Polish virus for several months after.
Although I have a knack for snagging window seats, they simply aren’t quite as fun when the couple next to you is touching each other inappropriately on the flight. Again, awkward.
Sitting next to kids when their parent is in the row ahead or behind you is the worst. The absolute worst. You may end up playing travel-sized Connect 4 for three straight hours and feeding the 5-year-old girl her snack. And juice box. And lyrics to the Barney theme song.
On my flight home from Austin however, my seatmates were just fine.
A 20-something girl with really cute ballet flats to my left; a large 50-something man taking up half my seat on my right. Not bad. Not stellar.
As the flight took off from Dallas, we were well aware we’d be flying into some nasty weather in Chicago. I closed my eyes, illegally put on my Florence + the Machine CD (what’s with no electronic devices being used during takeoff anyways?) and prepared to sleep the entire way to Chicago.
It worked for about an hour.
Then the plane hit some turbulence.
Nothing to worry about Holly; you’ve had this happen plenty of times!
The seatbelt sign went on. Routine.
I rested my head back again only to feel an odd sensation rising up inside of me. Suddenly, I was riding on a towering rollercoaster and heading down that first huge hill and…shit!
We just plummeted 100 feet midair.
I clutched the two arm rests, looked to my left, looked to my right and peed my pants just a bit. Just a teeny little bit.
Oh. My. God. I am going to end up like Jack on LOST. No wait, Kate. Well, who will be my Jack? I did see that one cute guy earlier…hmmm…where is he again? Wait. It doesn’t even matter, because we are crashing and will be eaten by the smoke monster before we know it.
The plane lurched left. Then it lurched right.
Prayers were said to my Grandma Nancy above to keep me safe. And to keep my new purse safe.
This is the end.
This is it.
I am dying in the worst way I can imagine: in a plane crash.
“We’re almost landing. Don’t worry,” said the guy next to me.
Really? Almost landing? Don’t worry? Because I am pretty sure my uterus just came lurching up my throat from the fact we dropped another 100 feet. Now, not only am I going to die, but I’m never going to be able to have kids due to my barren reproductive system that’s no longer in my body!!!
I half-smiled and half-nodded back to him.
I breathed in. I breathed out. I replayed “Dog Days Are Over” because that song makes me happy. I thought of puppies. I thought of ice cream. I thought of how relieved I would be once I landed. I even thought of the fact that if I made it through, it would mean I still have a chance with Jake Gyllenhaal.
A chance is still a chance, right?
I kept breathing.
For 15 more minutes, the plane bumped, jumped, jarred, jerked and tumbled its way through the air.
Then, miracle of all miracles, I saw the ground.
And vowed never to complain about singing Barney songs to a 5-year-old on a plane ever again.