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The Few, The Brave, The YOLOers

I’ve been feeling very YOLO-y lately. For those of you who don’t know what YOLO is (my parents who read this and – I dunno – anyone who doesn’t have access to hashtags for some reason?) it stands for You Only Live Once and while #YOLO hit its peak in popularity a couple of years ago, I’m really identifying with it right now. Most people use YOLO as an excuse to do really dumb stuff or really brave stuff, but I use it as an excuse to book a lot of travel. Which for me and my fear of flying, is both really brave AND really dumb.


I’ve become very familiar with my travel anxiety; I know its pattern. In the days leading up to a flight, my fear will simmer quietly in the back of my consciousness, hidden but ever present. On the day of travel, it will spike randomly (in line at Hudson News, in line at security, in line for the bathroom – what’s the deal with lines at the airport, am I right?) FINALLY when I get on the plane, it will settle at its peak for the remainder of our time in the air. It’s predictable, its habitual, its weirdly comforting. 


But on my most recent YOLO trip to Colorado for a Red Rocks concert, I didn’t feel my usual “something is definitely wrong at all times” self. Maybe there is something about booking a last minute trip for a weekend of fun that silences my fears. Maybe I didn’t have time to build up the anxiety or maybe I was made strong and powerful with YOLO adrenaline. Whatever it was, I loved it! I even ate my inflight snack like a normal person instead of gnawing intently on each individual peanut. Yup, the flight to Colorado was pretty great. The flight back to LA was… not. 


The YOLO adrenaline had worn off and now I was faced with the unsettling realities of the YOLO mantra. Because just by saying “YOLO,” you are, on some level, agreeing to die afterwards. I mean, right? Exclaiming to only live once as a reason to do something insinuates once said goal is achieved, you’re good to go. I know, my brain is really mean to me but this roundabout thinking is where my fears and anxieties focused on the plane back to LA. 


I was able to calm myself down before the flight and I was pretty proud of that but it wouldn’t last long. The pilot welcomed us aboard and said we had “three outstanding flight attendants” with us. I wondered why he had to specify that they’re “outstanding.” Are some flight attendants NOT outstanding and if so, how well does he REALLY know these ones?


As we pulled away from the gate one of the outstanding flight attendants announced over the loud speaker that “we’d been cleared for blast off.” Blast off. BLAST OFF?? My panic spiked and as I was convincing myself it was an honest slip of the tongue and most definitely NOT a premonition, she added, “the pilots are going to try something new today; something they saw in a movie.” Click. Silence. No laughs, no change in tone, nothing to indicated that this was a joke. I’m sure 97% of the plane knew it was a joke, but I – I had follow up questions.


What movie?? 


What genre?? 


Comedy or drama??


Is it animated??


IS IT FLIGHT??


I leaned forward, rested my head on the seat in front of me and while looking out the window, I bobbed my head to the beat of a song from the Red Rocks concert, for it may be the last time I ever enjoy anything ever again. 


We landed in LA just fine and I began to release the grudge I had been harboring towards that one “outstanding” flight attendant for the past two hours when she came over the speaker again, “just a reminder… we are essentially in a metal tube…” And I zoned out, blacked out potentially. I was just reminded by an air travel professional how actually insane it is that we strap ourselves in a metal tube and, without question, fling ourselves thousands of miles into the air. 


How dangerous. How brave. How #YOLO.   

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