Flying and I have a tentative arrangement. It satisfies my need for travel to distant lands and I mask my terror under a delicate sheen: a few deep breathes before take off, a little internal reassurance with (light) turbulence and some mind-clearing meditation and I appear to be the nonchalant master-of-the-skies that I should be by now. This has gotten me through 3-day-long trips and touch down on 5 continents – I was getting so good I had started to believe it myself.
Until today. I broke up my journey back home into two parts so I could spend 24 hours in Toronto before FINALLY seeing my family*. Home for mother’s day was the plan. After a kindly ride to the airport from JSLPA and Pa-Rum I was a little early so I took full advantage of the generous spread of complimentary coffee, cappucinos and teas – something you always end up regretting on an airplane.
Right before boarding a friend back home let me know that she was surprised I had managed to land in Sault Ste. Marie that day due to the snow. SNOW. Did I mention it is now mid-May? The boarded us anyway and off we flew. The plane started a descent which is when the passengers could start seeing thick snow whizzing through the propellers and over the windows. It got a little bumpy. At first I thought we were never breaking through the cloud cover until I realized we had; we were already looking at the ground but it was just as white as the air and the clouds. And suddenly the plane aborted – just pulled back up into the snowy clouds.
Then we waited. We staked out the territory hoping for a break in the storm and we did that staking for over an hour. I would come to regret that extra Earl Grey. Between a full bladder, some queasy tummy from a poorly timed breakfast decision and the pilot’s seemingly sadistic desire to withhold information the hand-wringing began. The first crack. When you (I) hover around too long on an aircraft your (my) mind starts thinking about things it really should ignore mid-air: how DOES this stay in the air? This has to land some time – either way this has to eventually find its way back to the ground. How much fuel does one of these carry?
Eventually we all gave up one by one, conquered by our bladders and being reminded by overhead page that we were seeking relief at our own risk. Finally, we decided to turn around. Huge admiration for that flight attendant because she stayed calm and walked upright through all that turbulence like this happens all the time. As if they had been considering that this *might* happen suddenly there were complimentary sandwiches and another round of cookies as a peace offering. Of course there was one last hitch because the pilot landed that airplane like it was running out of gas. This was the first time I have ever reached for those ever-present paper bags waiting in the seat pocket and held on to it just in case.
Back to Toronto for an extra night to try again in the morning. Success the second time around!
*I saw my parents in Edmonton in August 2012 and haven’t seen the siblings since my trip home in March of last year.