travel journal of a reluctant traveler

I start my story near its end as I sit waiting to catch my connecting flight home.

I said goodbye to my friend and traveling companion just hours ago at my gate, and headed down a set of carpeted stairs.  I started to feel a bit concerned, as I realized that in order to board my flight I would be walking across the tarmac.  I expressed my hesitation to the woman walking next to me, and she replied, “Yep, it’s just a puddle jumper.”  I looked ahead at the plane that I realized was my plane, and saw with mild alarm, two propellers.    Oh dear.

It’s not that I am unfamiliar with propellers and the planes that go with them.  I grew up flying:  sometimes on jets, sometimes in my dad’s plane, complete with its own propeller.  But here’s the thing:  I was a worrier as a child (pretending here that I am not anymore, because usually I am not…right?)  If you’ve flown inside a small plane before, you might be familiar with the particular brand of wild turbulence that can be associated with them.  Imagine being thrashed in the air by forces outside of your control, and that lack of control being especially apparent when you’re a little girl, just along for the ride.  My dad and I still talk about the flight that resulted in my Nestea erupting like a geyser from the can I held between my legs, hitting the ceiling.  It’s funny, I can almost see it in my mind, rising out of that can and hitting the ceiling, but I have no recollection of what happened when it came back down.   I do remember exchanging wide eyes and giggles with my dad.  And then there was the night that we ended up in a storm, tossed about, just me and my dad, a speck in that stormy black sky.  In my mind, death was certain, and I knew well enough to thank God when I felt the ground beneath my wobbly legs that night.  I don’t think I’ve ever told my dad these fears I regularly had, the fear that our flights would most certainly end in death.  He sold that plane a couple of years ago, and with it a piece of my childhood: excitement, and fear all rolled into those six seats and the wheel I was allowed to hold and manipulate midair on a few occasions.  I guess I am glad that I can say that yes, I’ve flown a plane before.  Sort of.

As I walked toward that “puddle jumper” today, the woman walking next to me, tucking me under her wing for just a moment assured me, “We’ll only be in the air for about twenty minutes.”  And I was grateful for the concern and kindness in her face, in this moment of being a ten year old child trapped inside my still fearful 35 year old body.

Once on board I searched my jacket pocket for my rosary bracelet.  I’m just going to pray my way through this I thought.  And I prayed, “Our Father…”

Once airborne, I focused my attention on the flight attendant as I simultaneously whispered my prayers.  When the sound of those propellers changed I listened to her voice, searching for any sign of concern.  I was grateful for her, and the sound of her chattering to the passengers up front.  We began our descent through thick cloud cover, only moments after leveling off it seemed.  As the plane began to lurch, I fingered my beads, and listened for that dear girl’s tone, the inflection of her voice.  And then with a remarkably smooth landing, we were on the ground.  As those propellers quieted, the flight attendant’s words to those she was chatting with became clear, more than just sounds, “Bungee jumping is great, but I really prefer sky diving,” she was saying.

I pray for courage, I pray for trust.  But sky diving?  No thank you.

And now that I’ve managed to write over 600 words about one flight, I will have to sum up the rest of my trip quickly.  Part of this trip was planned nearly a year ago by my mom who invited me to join her for her church’s women’s retreat.  The speaker at the retreat was to be my friend, Ann.  As the retreat date neared, Ann and I came up with a plan to visit our friend Elizabeth DeHority on the way, and quickly pulled our friend Elizabeth Foss into the fold as well.  We spent about twenty four hours knitting and talking in Charlotte, NC.  We watched as Elizabeth D. closed the toes on eight socks:  a labor of love and a pair of matching socks for each of us to remember our time together by.  Soon though, it was time for Ann and I to depart for Greenville, SC where she would be speaking and I would join my mom, Aunt Julie, and nearly 700 other women.  I’ll tell you right now, women’s retreats aren’t my thing, but this was very worth the time spent with my mom, aunt, and friends.  In the midst of our weekend I made a run with my mom for the oldest Catholic Church in Greenville and got to attend High Mass on the vigil of Palm Sunday.  It was just what I needed.  And now I am home again, grateful for the time I had away, but so glad to be back with my family.  I think Jonny is pretty happy to have me home as well.

Comments

  1. those socks are beautiful!!

  2. I recently had to fly from New England to the midwest and flew a puddle jumper on a connecting flight. I, also, prayed the entire way – the sounds alone were enough to make me think my life was over!

    I love the matching socks – what a special labor of love from someone who loves you all very much! Can you please find the name and number of the yarn your friend used? I absolutely love it and would like to make matching socks for three generations – my daughter, granddaughter (4 years old!), and me – what great fun!

    Wishing you and your family all the blessings of this Easter season!
    Maureen

  3. That Ann?! How exciting! Her book has been a huge blessing to me as well as your blog. Thanks for taking the time to write it–even on days you might not want to. It’s a big inspiration. Glad you had a great trip…breaks like that for a mom are priceless…

  4. Oh geez you were just 20 minutes down the road from me! It would have been so nice to meet you. I am so glad that my dad was not a pilot and that the only flight we ever took was when I was too young to remember it because I am deathly afraid to fly.

  5. Sounds like a nice time away, even if they flying wasn’t your thing:) Charlotte is not too far from me(3 hours ish) and I have two brothers who live there.

  6. Oh Ginny, I’m glad you had a weekend away. It sounds like a “fill me up, recharge my batteries” weekend. I love the picture of matching socks as you all make your journeys until you can get together again. While you and Jonny share more of the dailiy responsibilities of raising your children than most families, short absences never hurt to remind you family how much love you show them through taking care of them. And you missed them too. Welcome home hugs are awesome!

  7. So glad you made it home safely. Those little planes can be terrifying! I can’t believe you flew on one as a kid!

    Those socks are gorgeous! I’m so jealous. I suck at knitting.

  8. So fun to meet you ever so briefly! I will have to visit that Catholic Church next time I am in Greenville. Puddle jumpers? Not a fan. At least you were wearing a cute shirt! 🙂

  9. My husband returned from a job interview once after riding on a tiny plane and I knew we were all going to have to ride on one to visit too. I asked him if it was really bumpy and he said, “No, my book only hit me in the face once.” 🙂

    Can’t believe you were talking about that Ann- I just read it and and thought, couldn’t be. 🙂 Love her book like so many others. What a blessing to have such good friends and such warm, happy toes.

  10. My SIL is a pilot and I’m a worrier by nature so I understand entirely. The socks are lovely and will a great reminder to you of your time together. The church, oh my! It’s beautiful. Time spent with your Mom. Priceless. Thank you for sharing all of it with us. And now, hug your kids. Your home safely.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

  11. That church in Greenville is breathtaking.

    I’m so glad you are safe and sound and back on the ground.

  12. Wow, I live in Greenville, SC. You were so near me! Glad you made it home safely. Too bad you didn’t have nice weather while you were here:(

  13. I traveled a lot as a kid and had to ride in those horrible little planes. Oh the turbulence was horrible! I remember once almost being sick because my air vent wasn’t working. So there I was shaking all over the place and not a stitch of fresh air to at least blow in my face, lol. I have crossed the Atlantic about 12 times and I remember the last time thinking, “I never want to fly again.”

    Now I wish i could go back to Europe again!

    Glad you had a good trip. I don’t think I am a retreat person either. I think I would enjoy them more if I had some family or friend there like you did, but probably for your exact same reason.

  14. I love the matching socks, what a great reminder of time spent with friends. I remember the first time I ever flew by myself. Sitting in the airport I watched this little bitty plane with propellers pulling in, and people getting off. I kept thinking “please don’t be my plane, please don’t be my plane”, but of course is was. Once I realized that, I kept thinking how I wanted to sit anywhere but close to those propellers. Of course I sat exactly next to the propellers. 🙁 It was a pretty turbulent flight, I kept my eyes and window covered most of the flight and all I could think of was the William Shatner Twilight Zone episode… Luckily I have not had to fly in a puddle jumper since then. 🙂
    Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

  15. Glad you got home safe; I feel the same about big events; smaller ones like you had with friends are also what are good for me; blessed Holy Week to you.

  16. Jennifer says:

    St. Mary’s is a beautiful church; I’m sure that the Palm Sunday Vigil Mass was lovely. I hope that you enjoyed your time in the Carolinas.

    Have a blessed Holy Week.

  17. I love the matching socks for all the friends, that’s a lot of knitting! I’ve been on a few tiny airplanes nothing happened for me to have a great fear. I have general anxiety while traveling so that feeling has been there. There is nothing like a Hail Mary to calm a fear 🙂 Glad you’re home and life is back to normal.

  18. I remember those flights with my own father. We’ve long had a dream of buying a plane together & using it to fly back and forth to visit each other. (I have to get my license first, though…) I like to say I’m not anxious about those things but now that I have children…I’ve become a worrier.

    I love your matching socks; what a wonderful little souvenir of your time together! xo

  19. It sounds like what we all imagine(and long for in) a women’s retreat could be-good friends and knitting. Fellowship with like minded and sincere souls. And to be welcomed back with love. That plane trip sounds nerve racking. Glad you made safe and sound.

  20. oh, propeller planes. I have flown them often enough to know 2 things…they are safer than the average plane, and the second, I am still more afraid when I fly in them than the average plane. I pray the rosary as well on scary flights. I guess I should have thought about that before moving over the ocean away from my family. 😉

    A knitting group is the stuff of dreams here where only women over the age of 50 knit and the occasional younger person who I have yet to meet. What a blessing to have a group of friends to share this with.

    I hope you have a blessed and peaceful Holy Week.

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