Spoiler alert: I made it home alive (and so did my husband).
Yeah, so the trip is over and I survived the flights both going and coming back. It was not fun either time and I hope to not fly again. Ever.
Our round trip was Sunday. On Friday night I started getting nervous. More about whether I was going to forget something or get to security and have to throw something away. But behind that, I was starting to get nervous about the flight itself. Hub isn’t a good flier either, so he was starting to get nervous, too. In some ways, that made me feel better because he doesn’t have anxiety and yet he was getting worried about the flight. Anyway, we left for the airport and parked our car in the daily lot, then grabbed the shuttle to the airport. We found the security line, which ended up taking almost an hour to get through. It was crazy ridiculous. I did what I was supposed to, including putting my liquids (mostly makeup) into a clear baggie and on the conveyor belt outside of my small bag. But guess what? After going through the xray doohickey, they stopped me and a female TSA agent said she was going to have to pat me down around my waist and my ankles. I actually thought nothing of it at the time, just let her do her thing, then grabbed my stuff and my shoes and went to where Hub was putting his shoes back on. We hurried along to find our gate, which seemed to be the last gate on that concourse, of course. Once we got there, we found seats and tried to stay occupied. We had about 45 minutes before boarding. I kept asking Hub if we needed to be in line for something because people kept lining up, but he said they were getting their seat assignments, which I had already done online when I booked the tickets. Also, I had checked in online (for both flights) the day before so it would save us some time and money.
They finally started boarding the flight. We were almost in the last group to board because our seats were in the back of the plane. I haven’t been on a plane in 17 years, so I forgot how small the aisles and seats are. And of course, I’ve got nicely padded hips…and our seats were in the back, so I had to pass alongside all the passengers already boarded. That kinda sucked. When we got to our seats, we found the person in the window seat was already there. Thank goodness he was a small guy, so I didn’t feel like I was smushed in between him and Hub, who is a big guy. We put up the arm rest between Hub and me, then I went to find my crochet in my bag. But I realized REALLY quickly that there was absolutely no elbow room to crochet. Ugh. I was really counting on that as part of my relaxation technique. So I swapped it for a book, then plugged in the headphones for my iPod and put the earphones over my ears. Were you aware that United uses their headrest tvs to show the safety video? It’s like a commercial and they tried to make it entertaining. Hub and I just rolled our eyes through the whole thing.
Lucky me, the little guy at the window seat kept his window shade open. So I pretty much had to crank my head toward Hub the whole flight. I clutched onto Hub as we took off, wrapping my arms around his arm so that I was pretty much attached to him. I did that almost every time I felt the plane bank, or there was turbulence, or we sped up or slowed down. I felt every single shift in the plane. Every single shift. I am so hyperaware of movement because of my vertigo and imbalance that I knew when the plane climbed higher or descended even a little. I tried to think of turbulence as pot holes, though that didn’t help very much (we had a good amount of turbulence as we ascended, then more during the length of the flight). I cranked my music and tried to sing along in my head. I tried to read but the book was terrible and I couldn’t concentrate. The woman in front of me put her seat back–of course–so I put my table tray down and just rested my head in my hand and my forehead against the back of her headrest (against the tv screen, technically). I had the little air blower from the ceiling on high, so that blew down the back of my neck and kept me relatively cool. I swayed my head to the music, tapped my fingers, and intermittently clutched at Hub as we flew. With the time zone change, I was having trouble tracking how long until we were supposed to land. At one point I was all happy because I thought we were going to start descending any minute, only to realize we had almost forty five minutes left. That was just less than half the flight. UGH. So back to the music I went, swaying and singing silently.
The pilot announced we were going to start descent, so of course I plastered myself to Hub, even though we still had twenty minutes before landing. I closed my eyes and just tried to ignore everything except the music I was blasting in my ears. The landing was hard and fast, and it felt like it took forever to slow down and stop. Everything was so loud…louder than I remembered from all those years ago. It took forever to get off the plane, because as I mentioned we were in the very back, just four rows from the bathrooms. It was interesting to watch the debarking process, because people were really patient and allowed other passengers to get off in order. All except ONE GUY who was sitting behind us who had jumped up as soon as he could, and instead of letting us out like he should, he pushed his way right up along our seats so Hub and I (and our seatmate) couldn’t get out in order like everyone else. SO RUDE, dude! I mean, really? How much faster were you going to get out by being an asshole?
Have you ever flown into O’Hare in Chicago? That mo’fo is HUGE. Walking to find the baggage area to get outside for pickup took forever. We used the moving sidewalks, too, but I was so tense on the plane and so squished into the seats that I was exhausted and in pain. It was kind of slow-going. But we had landed 30 minutes early (YES!) in comparison to the schedule, so we had some extra time to get outside. One of my brothers picked us up (along with some relatives coming in at the same time but via a different airline) and we were off to the hotel to meet my parents and change our clothes for the wedding.
Our flight out was an hour and forty minutes. The wedding itself, specifically, was thirty minutes long. Then we sat for ninety minutes in the reception room, as appetizers were circulated and the open bar, well, opened. I hadn’t eaten before flying (it was too early) and after we landed we went to the hotel. I had packed a tiny bag of gluten free cheese crackers, which I inhaled at the hotel (along with about six ounces of apple juice), but that was all I’d eaten all day. Unfortunately, every single appetizer was either breaded and fried, or had some sort of bread base (egg rolls, spanicopita, bruscetta), so I had nothing to eat again for those ninety minutes. I had two Shirley Temples and some water…and a few Hershey’s kisses that were on the table. That sucked. I was so hungry and I was getting a bad headache. Then the soup came out…but I can’t eat soup because it’s usually thickened with flour. But the waitress said they had some fruit, which she brought out for me and a few other people there who had allergies. That was some awesomely tasty fruit, ya’ll. 🙂 Then they served salad, which was good enough.
Luckily, my brother (it was my niece’s wedding) had arranged for a gluten free meal for me, which turned out to be pretty tasty. I was impressed because normally “gluten free” means plain and dry. But it was pretty okay, including a nice big baked potato, which I scarfed down like I was starving. They ended up bringing out chocolate mousse next, but I was too worried about being sick on the flight home that I didn’t eat it. Before we knew it, Hub and I were retrieving our bags from the car and changing back into our travel clothes in order to leave for the airport to fly home. When we went in to hurry around and say good bye, they were just serving the wedding cake (which I couldn’t eat anyway) along with what looked like ice cream or custard or something, and maybe some other small desserts. I’m not sure because we were already a few minutes behind schedule and it was more important to me to say good bye to my family than to see what we were missing dessert-wise. Then we were gone, on the road to heading home.