It's Anna. It's Happening. You Know What to Do.
!!OLD NEWS ALERT!! I’m afraid of flying.
Actually, I need to preface this post by saying my flying anxiety has gone down significantly since I started therapy in January. I didn’t start therapy to solve my fear of flying, it has just been an unexpected and warmly welcomed result. I’ll have to find a time to write a love letter blog post about therapy because I. Love. It. But for now it’s about those tubes in the sky
I was set to go to Phoenix for a bachelorette party in early July. I know it seems weird to go to a city the very month that all the locals leave because it’s unliveably hot. But the bride had two stipulations for her bachelorette party: it had to be hot and there had to be a pool. It being summer in America our possibilities were truly endless; heat and pools are available almost anywhere, but how can you say no to 117 degrees?
The week before the bachelorette party, Phoenix was grounding planes because it was too hot. When anything weird happens with flying or planes, I learn something new. Apparently when it’s too hot, the air is too thin and planes can’t take off. They will just FALL out of the sky.
There isn’t just one thing that scares me about flying. My fear truly knows no bounds – I’m afraid the plane is broken, I’m afraid someone will hijack it, I’m afraid of bad weather, I’m afraid of good weather and I’m afraid the plane will just FALL out of the sky. Thank you, Phoenix, for confirming this as a rational fear.
I’ve thought before that my obsession with dying in a plane crash means that I will. But without being in the plane — a plane will crash on my car as I innocently drive (the mode of transportation you all claim to be 20 times more dangerous than flying) on the 405. This was also recently confirmed as a rational fear.
Again, I want to note that these fears were much more prominent before I started therapy; I’ve been very cool flying lately. But these fears were kind of nudged awake in the days leading up to my trip to Phoenix, thanks almost exclusively to the new knowledge of extreme heat and planes.
A girl I was flying with from LA wanted to switch our flights to really early in the morning or really late at night to avoid the heat. I was in a blissful ‘flying is chill’ mindset (thank you therapy) so I wasn’t really interested. I was feeling cool, calm, confident.
And then… as we waited to board our flight, set to take off at the hottest time of day, my friend told me about the flight to Tucson that her brother’s girlfriend had taken a week before. The plane overheated and the girlfriend called my friend’s brother crying.
“She called on the plane??” I gasped.
“Yeah, everyone was calling their loved ones, everyone was crying.”
“The pilot, like, said, ‘hey, we’re going down’??” I panicked.
“He didn’t outright say that he was like, ‘do what you need to do.’”
“’DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO?!’” I obsessed over this and in an attempt to regain my own blissful ‘flying is chill’ mindset I assured her, comforted her, “eh, we’ll be fiiiiine”
“Oh, I’m not nervous. I’m not afraid of flying.”
I was under the impression this was a conversation from one nervous flyer to another. I felt a little betrayed, I felt a little tricked, but I had NO TIME to acknowledge these feelings. I had to dissect, imagine and play through exactly what I would do in that situation.
Who do I call first? I can’t possibly call everyone I love before the plane goes down.
Immediately I think of the big 3. My mom, my dad and my brother.
I call my mom and tell her I love her and then what? Call my dad? How do I end that call? “Hey, look, I gotta run, I’ll talk to you…… on the other side?”
Ok, then I call my dad and tell him I love him and then, yeah, I’d have to do a similar thing and hang up to call my brother.
And by the third call I’m getting kind of strapped for time, I can imagine, so I’d have to tell him to tell everyone I love that I love them. He knows about a lot of my friends because I talk about them a lot but there might be some he doesn’t know about that should also get the message that I love them.
So at that point his call is a quick, “I love you” and then it’s down to business; “do you have a pen and paper because I have names for you to jot down.”
That’s pretty intense to call my immediate family, though. Wouldn’t it traumatize them to hear my desperate last goodbyes? It would be traumatizing for anyone I’m close with actually. I should call more of an acquaintance. I could designate someone I’m not very close to and give them a list of the people I love and it will be their responsibility to contact them.
But I couldn’t tell this person that’s their role. How do I tell someone they’re just unimportant enough that I won’t get emotional calling them in a plane crash? That could really hurt someone’s feelings. And if I hurt their feelings, they might not make these calls out of anger/spite. And, also, I need everyone to like me.
Okay, so the list of names and its purpose are secret and is left with someone I only kind of know. Oy, but imagine the small talk at the beginning of that phone call, “I know, hi, yes, it’s been forever! It will likely actually be forever again. Listen up…”
The list would probably need to be updated semi-frequently. I don’t want someone getting my personalized, plane-crash I love you if we’re no longer close. I would need to update it to factor in falling outs, grudges I can’t get over and betrayals. So now my relationship with this acquaintance is a pretty consistent meet up/friendship (I know meeting up every few months to exchange paperwork doesn’t seem like a close friendship, but I think that’s a pretty solid definition for LA).
I need someone who knows me, is aware of these anxieties, is aware of this plan and won’t be weird or tell anyone about it.
I need to have this deal with my therapist.
Her phone rings directly to voicemail so I wouldn’t even have to have an emotional thing with her, I could just leave a voicemail, “It’s Anna, it’s happening. You know what to do.” Quick. Simple. Unemotional.
And then I can sit back and finish my US Weekly.