Yearly "I'm Afraid To Fly" Story
by Jessica Delfino
My mom is busting my ass to fly down to Florida for Thanksgiving. Let me first break down "mom." When I say mom, the word represents my entire family. My mom is the center of the family driving force. I guess it's kind of like when saying mother nature, it includes hurricanes, typhoons, violent hail storms and earthquakes all in the same lot. My younger sister, Abby, is my mom's second in command, the hench woman of the family. I can see the pecking order unfolding and I know that when my mother has left this life, Abby will take her spot. Usually, my mom works alone, but Abby is never far behind. They are like a harmony. First, my mother comes in and then Abby follows her in almost the same fashion, but in a different octave.
"So, what's the story? Are we going to see you for Thanksgiving?" (insert a tone of intensity, expectation and bossiness into your head's reading voice)
"Well, mom, it's just that I have a lot going on right now. I am working full-time, (true) I don't have a lot of money to spend (true) and I don't want to fly. (true, true) I would love to come down to Florida and visit, I want nothing more than (warning: blatant, gruesome lie coming up) to be in Florida over Thanksgiving.
***In what I said, there was one word, that's all it takes, to loosen her guilt digging tools on me and sucker punch me right in the heart strings.***
"That's always your argument, Jessica. Every holiday you have a problem coming down here. And it's because you live in New York freaking City, and it's so damn expensive that you always have trouble with money. And you are never dating anyone who can pitch in and help you."
***I love my mom so much. She wants me to be dating some rich guy. I think she'd be happy if I were dating a guy who not even was necessarily rich, but who could just break the national poverty level by even 10%. It's just that rich guys are boring to me, and usually have had lots of girlfriends and I don't like to date guys who have had lots of girlfriends. I'm no trophy. As a matter of fact, I've been seriously considering becoming asexual as of late. But more on that later.***
"Mom, this has nothing to do with me not dating a rich guy. I could date a rich guy if I wanted to. Is that what you want? (I can do guilt too, I learned from a master) Do you want me to just go marry some guy for money? Because I can. But I don't want to. (Hello, Is this the Academy? Have you ever read Jessy Delfino's blog?) I know money is a problelm for me, mom. It's just that we are not a rich family and I don't have people I can call and say, "Hey, book me a ticket. I'm coming down there." (I always blame not having money on someone else.)
"Jessy - (that's how I know my mom is really turning on the urgency, when she calls me Jessy) just get on a plane. Jet Blue has tickets for $74 dollars each way."
(At this point, Abby takes the phone.) "Just fly, Jessica. Terrorists aren't going to blow up the plane."
***See, the reason money is an issue regarding this trip is I don't like to fly. Let me retype that. I DON'T LIKE TO FLY. Before 9/11. You've heard all the arguments about why flying sucks, so I'll leave out the specifics but there's more to it than my personal reasons. It's not fair to others for me to fly. I scare their kids. I make other people fear flying. I whine and whimper the whole flight, grabbing strangers arms and saying stupid things to them, like, "So - tell me a story about your life." The panic sets in once I purchase the ticket and lasts the entire trip. During, during, waiting until the day of the flight, up to the day of the flight, packing, packing, (I always write a note before I fly that says if I die what should be done with my stuff and I put it into my little dresser drawer in with my underwear, just so you know what to do, mom, sis) traveling to the airport, in the airport, waiting, waiting, the plane boards, sitting, for half a second the 'see? this isn't so bad,' sets in, then the engines start, the whirring, the air, the babies, the other people, all of them ugly, terry cloth, sweat pants, business jackets, laptops, is that laptop a bomb or an actual laptop?, the traveling, the rocking, the images of careening into the ocean, the view of the ocean below, the landing of the plane is pretty good, usually my favorite part, the entire trip, waiting, waiting to get back on the plane, every day an agonizing torture blip spent fantasizing about dying in a firey blaze, the packing, the goodbye-ing, the ride to the airport, the waiting, the waiting, getting on the plane, double the terry cloth out of Florida, the snacks, the happy attendants smiling even though they know all the same things I know, the moving, the rolling, the rocking, the shaking, the captain's voice, the view of New York City in the distance, the hope, the anticipation - will we land there? The best part of flying for me is when the trip is over and I'm on my way home. I know for a fact that I will die in a taxi ride on the way home from the airport, it's just too perfect to not happen.
I have kissed the ground of several airports. It was kind of hot.
As I share the flying dream sequence with my mother, she sighs, agrees with me and tells me to call her back in 15 minutes. I know what this means. She's taking over at this point. I love when my mom does that. She's been doing that most of my life. Who's mother hasn't? That's why everyone both loves and hates their mothers. I'd also like to take this moment to blame my mother (and father and step father) for my fear of flying, because they never took us on family trips. So, you get what you pay for.***
My mother calls a few car rental places (yes, I know, the statistics of me dying in a firey car crash are much, much higher than the likeliness of dying in a flaming, flying fireball, my fears are irrational and I know that, that's not the point) and calls me back with a quote of $300. I am not paying $300 to drive to Florida, because it's going to be $500 said and done with gas and tolls and McDonald's stops and stuff. Don't eat McDonald's by the way. I really try never to eat there. Being a vegetarian helps me to not eat there, but the sundays, the sundays, caramel....what kind of a writer would I be without digression?
So, here I am, a week before Thanksgiving. I have my credit card in front of me. I'm sitting in front of my computer. I know I am going to have to reserve a plane ticket. But do I really have to? Can't I do whatever I want? I'm in control of my own life. I don't have to go to Florida for Thanksgiving. Sure, my family will be pissed, but they'll get over it, right? No. That's the thing with my family. They don't get over shit. They save it up, like Santa and his naughty list, then it comes out later. We all do, I do it, too. I learned from a master. I'm going to have to buy a fucking ticket. Fuck. Fuck. Shit. God Dammit.
I think I am going to start a small business that hooks up scaredy cat flying freaks together and sends them on trips. You call a number and say, I have to go to Spain, and they hook you up with another maniac who also has to go to Spain and you can cling to eachother and tell eachother stories about your cats and growing up while the plane spirals downward into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Flaming.
If I die, top drawer, left.