Not Flying

Posted: 11 August 2009 in observations
Tags: , , ,

If you asked me what sort of family I come from, I’d say “close”.  Maybe even “very close”.  Yes, one sister is a crackpot (and that goes for all of us – I’m sure I’m someone else’s crackpot) and my mother never tells us anything (“oh honey, that dog’s been dead for months now”) but we’re close enough that we share gales of laughter together.  We’d do it more often if they lived closer, but we’re on the east coast and they are…well, not.

Both sisters and my parents (and every last stitch of extended family) are a plane flight away.  This wasn’t a problem ten years ago.  I flew everywhere.  San Francisco on the weekend, Johannesburg, London, Rio.  In the pre-TSA days, my mother dumped me onto planes from five forward, just to fly to see my grandparents.  Alone.  Suffice to say, I’ve been around the aviation block.

Somewhere in all of this, I lost the traveling bug.  I’d much rather drive than fly and really, I’d rather stay nearby.  As time goes by, it’s less “I’d rather not fly” and more “I’m avoiding flying”. I’m not afraid of crashing, through frankly, it seems a much more reasonable fear than it used to be.  It’s more the restriction of personal freedom on a public conveyance.  If I need to use the bathroom, I will (as long as it’s safe).  I’d like to be able to move my arms (even as a skinny little kid my shoulders hit the edges of the seat and I’m not doing any better now).  I’m not a fan of being sprayed down with disinfectant in a sealed plane (never happened to you?  Be thankful).  But mostly, I don’t want to spend hours without air on a hot piece of pavement.

No, really.  I’m Tucson born and so I’m familiar with the particular form of torture that comes with onboard idling, cabin power off, in summer heat.  There have been times I’ve sat there so long, breathing so much stale air that the world got grey on the edges.  I’ve had flight crews apologize (though they no longer seem to) for sealing the flight up and letting it toast in the sun but acknowledge that due to another plane with a problem, power problems with our own or downright aviation orneriness, that no one was going to get a breath in edgewise til the plane took off.  I’ve been trapped off of planes, too.  Once, in Miami, they cleared everyone into a gate for a Brazil-bound flight, shut the security gates behind us and closed the airport.  The bathrooms and water fountains were on the other side of the gate.  That was a very long six hours.  It also was before TSA.

I’ve already put off going to see my sisters this year, but I would have eventually given in and bought a plane ticket next year.  Now I’m not so sure. The fact that Congress has to legislate to allow people to disembark in a common sense situation is ridiculous.  Congress, please spend your time making laws protecting me from being fired because I’m gay.  Better still, get around to kicking DOMA back under the rock from whence it came.  It is unbelievable that existing laws require additional legislation to ensure human compassion.

Will we fly again?  Of course, but not without dread.  Will we forgo trips to Paris in favor of trips to Nantucket?  Yes.  Will we drive every chance we get?  Yes.  Because I would rather further subsidize foreign oil for my individual conveyance and sacrific oodles of vacation time than have to sit next to you in a tiny little steel case breathing the same air for hours on end while slowly choking on my own claustrophobia and dripping sweat.  No offense.

  1. Dylan says:

    A few states can become a huge distance between family members. Mine are less than 500 miles away, yet those few hours in a car, makes me see them less and less, and only it seems when really necessary these days. It’s not because we aren’t close, it’s just that lives are hectic and even finding a weekend free is hard… and then spending a day driving, it just makes it seem so short and “not worth” the hassle.

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