I had made it through the security screening and was at the departure gate patiently waiting to be called to board the plane. And despite the noise, commotion, and the notion of a long flight ahead of me, I still wasn’t nervous. This confused me to no end.
It was hard to fathom that, after all these years, I was finally making headway in my battle against anxiety (When we get to the final installation in this series, I will clue you in on my secrets so you, too can relax).
The departure gate waiting area was a strange amalgam of cultures, sounds and décor, a bit like tacky-chic, but I guess that’s what you get when you blend EVERYTHING in the world together and spit out the good parts. The chairs were straight out of The Jetsons, steely-ridged and sleek, yet comfy enough to avoid pre-flight chafing. The overhead sound system blared a bizarre mix of of music, from 1970’s Doobie Brothers to Japanese Kabuki, interrupted every 15 minutes for an official announcement about watching out for suspicious packages.
The people around me ranged in ages and colors, and most were plugged into some form of technology. Hardly anyone spoke. There were no conversations at all, and I reflected upon how that fine art seems to be dead and gone in favor of the instant gratification of the text message. Every so often, someone would notice me writing in my journal and stare at me for a while, as if to say I was odd. But that didn’t bother me, because I am odd and proud of it. Still, I didn’t want to take any chance in an airport – not these days. So I tried looking “official,” like I was performing my job. I figured that if that didn’t work, I would try to look “artistic” or “creative.” Anything but bizarre. I had already dodged one strip search. I didn’t want to press my luck by drawing attention to myself..
The plane boarded in a remarkably smooth and efficient manner. I was later informed that this was because we were flying a German airlines, and that’s how they do it. They also allow you to check your bags, so people don’t try and cram a bazillion things in the overhead bins. And indeed I saw that they had room to spare in them. I had a feeling I was going to have an enjoyable flight – and I was right – for the most part.
A voice told us to watch our video screens to view the disaster drill video. I always pay close attention to it, even though I would most likely forget everything if something bad actually happened. Still, it was good to think I was prepared. A robotic animation came on and spoke in German for about 5 minutes. Then they warned us about emergencies in English. I felt doubly-prepared and ready to go. I located my barf bag, and the spare ones in my pockets, and was all set.
As soon as we got in the air, they started serving everyone drinks. I already had a bottle of water in my backpack with all my medical supplies, but I was feeling a bit parched, so I asked for a glass of water when the flight attendant came my way. One can never be too prepared – or can they? I put my tray table down and noticed that it felt extra-wobbly, as if someone had greased it so that it wouldn’t stay put. I worried about placing a glass of water upon it, and with good reason. Not two minutes went by before my elbow bumped into it and spilled the water all over my lap.
Well, there goes going to the bathroom for a few hours, I thought. No way am I going to walk through rows of people looking like this. I was trapped until I dried out.
The rest of the flight went smoothly. Now paranoid about my tray table, I was extra-careful not to spill anything else. The flight was calm and steady, and that helped my stomach. I watched a movie and then tried to go to sleep for a few hours. No luck. I just can’t sleep on planes.
By the time we landed after the 8-hour flight, it was 1:00 am Eastern USA time. Unfortunately, it was 7:00 am Germany time. So that meant that somehow I had lost 6 hours and the flight had now lasted 14 hours. I guess it must have been that time warp the we hit near Scotland that messed us up. That also meant that I had to skip a whole night’s sleep and would be extra-loopy for a while.
I braced myself for the next leg of my trip: find some schnitzel and take some pictures of Germany to prove I was actually there. Stay tuned…