I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘flying’

Marvelous

Lady J is on her way home!

In my previous post, I was in the air headed north, and I am blessed to be headed the opposite direction, returning to my family and work. Our flight was delayed three times, only to be moved forward again (take away – if they say to be at your gate at your original time, they mean it), leaving plenty of time for questions. What is the cause of the delay? Weather? Maintenance? Is this going to be the type of flight where I will be wondering if my affairs are in order?

At take off, of course, I smell something strong. “Oh my gosh this could be it.” The flight attendant had said we could anticipate a smooth flight once we were at cruising altitude and I am here to tell you WE HAVE NOT REACHED IT YET. The most important question remains –

Should I relax and enjoy it? 

I always get window seats because I have a tendency to get claustrophobic and I love marveling at creation. Right now, I see nothing but a wing jutting out into cloudy darkness. I’ve written in this space many times that while I intellectually grasp that there is not a method of travel more statistically safe than this, I do not find myself clenching on car, bus, or subway rides. And yet, being up here is still marvelous. It is incredible that in mere hours I can be in a completely different part of the country, visiting people that I love. How wondrous that people have worked and are working continuously to make this more efficient and comfortable. In moments, I am going to be able to hit the publish button from 35,000 feet in the air. Plus, someone is going to come down the aisle shortly with some excellent snacks.

I have always looked at the term “first world problems” skeptically, because it seems like a way to dismiss the emotions of others. As a woman of faith, I’ve had no problem that cannot make me look toward the Lord for guidance. Dammit if some bumps don’t remind me to make sure my priorities are right. These bumps are nothing if not “self-inflicted,” as I wouldn’t be feeling them if I hadn’t wanted to have this amazing getaway.

Update: THIS PILOT IS A LIAR HE SAID THE BUMPS WOULD END AT CRUISING ALTITUDE AND IT WAS DEFINITELY FAKE NEWS

person in parachute gliding above mountains

I ain’t ready.

I suppose even the turbulence is marvelous in its own sneaky way, as I have no choice but to surrender to His will and the crew’s expertise. What could be healthier than remembering how little control I have?

More marvelous travel, please!

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The Journey Home

Many thanks if you happened to read my last post about our journey from Athens back home and prayed for our safety! I write now from the comfort of our bed and a body and brain still on Eastern European Time. We saw five airports in 34 hours (yes, there are more direct ways, but we have more time than money, no shame in our layover game!) and it was pretty emotional for both of us.

I. Leaving Greece

Leaving our hotel in Athens was very emotional. Not only were we anxious about a long trip, but neither of us were really ready to go. Our taxi driver took us to Attiki Odos – the highway – for one last time to the airport. We checked our bags, grabbed some dinner, and I ran to duty free to get important things! I picked out a box of kourambiedes, which are delicious almond cookies covered in powdered sugar, and my absolute favorite chocolate, Leónidas. I went back and forth about buying some honey because I wasn’t sure the security gods wouldn’t confiscate it as I went through each airport, but I learned later that duty free liquids are exempt from that stupid 100 mL rule! Good to know!

I thought I had bought everything I wanted to, but about 10 minutes before we were to start boarding, I remembered I had some unfinished business. I absolutely love stuffed bears and I wanted to get one! Thankfully, I found one on a keychain to join Travel Bear!

Ready as we’re going to be. At the gate, we boarded a bus to be driven to our plane. Old school! I cherished every moment we were still in Athens, even on the tarmac on a bus. Check out how we boarded the plane!

I settled into my window seat and looked outside wistfully. I am hard-pressed to think of a time I’ve felt more moved on a return trip. Adonis was saying leaving for him was tough because he wasn’t sure when we would be able to return to Greece. I touched the window, as though I could pet Athens. He was right. God only knows when or if we will be able to return. We prayed together and thanked Him for a wonderful time.

Wheels up.

II. Stop #1 – Barcelona

After an uneventful flight, we landed at 0:45 CET. We deplaned and navigated our way to baggage claim. Now the fun begins – how do we get to our next plane? I checked the departure board and noticed the plane we were just on was going right back to Athens. I sighed.

The signs in Barcelona El Prat were in 3 languages – the last language was Spanish, the second was English, and I THOUGHT the first was Portuguese, which in retrospect, was really stupid. Give me a break. It was late! After a while, it dawned on me that we were in CATALONIA and that language had to be CATALAN! Duh! We were definitely clueless as to where to go once we had our bags. My Spanish is decent and we asked someone where we needed to go, but only after we had been in a few círculos. Heh.

“DOES THIS PLACE HAVE ANY DECENT COFFEE?”

I had been preparing myself while still in the US for Adonis’ grumpiness when we left Greece. I had not been prepared for it to set in quite so quickly. “Dude. Spain has coffee.” We were both tired and exchanged words that likely won’t make it into any healthy marriage Hall of Fame, but the coffee was good! We passed some time by talking to my parents and Lil One. What I thought would be the trickiest of our layovers was passing fairly quickly.

We checked in our bags, found some breakfast, and by 5:45 AM, we took the LONGEST. WALK. EVER. To our gate. Seriously, it was insanely long and there was no way to shorten it. I know we were tired but Dios Mío. El Prat needs to tighten up. Adonis noticed that unlike in American airports, there was no option to sit near the gate without sitting at a business, like a bar or cafe. Pagar o estar de pie (pay or stand up), says the airport authority. We didn’t make it onto the plane until about 6:15.

Tired.

Wheels up.

III. Stop #2 – Madrid

As I’m sure you can imagine, the flight from Barcelona to Madrid was short and packed with commuters. It was a bit bumpy, but I managed to sneak in about 15 minutes of much needed sleep. Lucky Adonis was sleeping as soon as we were in the air and didn’t awaken until we landed.

Since we were leaving the Schengen area, we had to go through customs after collecting our things in baggage claim. After receiving my second of two Madrid stamps, we boarded the shuttle to our terminal, where we would wait about 3 hours before the longest flight of our journey. We got some coffee and snacks and I ventured to do something I never had – taken a shower at the airport! They were not scary at all, I am pleased to say, and I was happy to no longer be sticky. I felt as fresh as I could for having gotten 15 minutes of sleep in 30 hours.

Thankfully, the journey to our gate was not as obnoxious as it had been in Barcelona.

After boarding, we settled into our seats. I immediately prepared myself to sleep by spraying some aromatherapy spray on a pillow. Then I did something I have not done since 2005, incidentally on another New York bound flight.

I used the lavatory.

This might not seem so noteworthy, but that was exactly the THIRD time I’d been in 23 years, and I am not that infrequent of a flyer. When I was 10 I used it on a flight for the first time and I couldn’t figure out how to open the door to exit, just as the flight was getting pretty turbulent. I had to yell for help and it’s haunted me since. Notably, this was my first time in the lavatory since I started running and it just reminded me of a portable toilet. Nonetheless, I used it and got the hell out of there as others were still boarding.

Listos para Nueva York.

Wheels up.

IV. Stop #3 – New York City

The pilot had announced that he expected the second half of the ride to be moderately turbulent. The second. HALF. I thought to myself, hopefully I can sleep through the drama. Eat up and then take some Advil pm and knock out until ‘Murka. I also wanted to make sure I was able to buy something from the duty free magazine that I had seen on the flight to Madrid two weeks prior. How to sleep and shop?! Traveler’s dilemma!

As we were in flight, I had to go to the bathroom again, but as it were, my practice run made me feel more confident so I did so without fear. I closed the door behind me and then I heard a ding. My inner 10 year old panicked, but the 33 year old quickly did her business and got the hell out of there. I realized later that it was just the ding of someone calling for the flight attendant, not the *sit your ass down y’all!* ding of impending bumpiness. I think I’m not scared of the lavatory anymore! ✔️

I asked the flight attendant to wake me as the duty free cart was coming around, and she did. Indeed, the second half of the flight was bumpy as promised, but I found myself clenching less and less. Big planes matter, as does experience – I think this being my 8th plane ride in 2018 (so blessed!) is helping to put me at ease. I whipped out my credit card and got a lovely set of earrings. I can’t say I wasn’t happy to land safely, but nor was I in a rush to get off the plane.

After landing at JFK, we had to make our way to customs, where I was pleasantly surprised. I had been feeling so sad to leave Greece that I wasn’t expecting to be happy to be back in the US, but as soon as I saw the big “Welcome to the United States” sign leading into passport control, I broke into a big smile. As messed up as home can be, it’s mine, and I appreciate it even when my sleep is limited, apparently. The joy was quickly muted once we got into a miserably long line, and I can say this was the most unsavory part of our long trip. We got our things and guess what! My Greek cough syrup made it back!

One thing that struck me was how prepared I was to speak Spanish although we had made it home. It took me awhile adjust to feel average and not like an outsider for speaking English, especially since I was surrounded by Spanish speakers at JFK. The only difference was that from what I saw, the Spanish speakers were mostly customers and not staff as it had been for the last day of my life. I love the tapestry of America – seeing different last names on employee tags, recognizing the different heritages, yet all equally American. E pluribus unum, y’all.

We splurged and went to the lounge because the area by our terminal was SO. LOUD and we wanted a bit of respite during our last layover. Let me tell you something – Delta has great cookies at JFK. And chairs comfy enough for a tired girl to crash until her husband wakes her up.

Wheels up.

V. Home! Orlando

Well. I don’t have much to say about this flight. I sat down. I slept. My husband woke me up when we landed. Good job, Delta.

We got our luggage quickly and made our way outside, where The Big One and The Beard (her boo) were waiting outside for us, despite our having landed a bit early. She rocks. We had a quick ride home and debriefed them as much as possible on what had been the trip of a lifetime.

34 hours after we began, this happened.

Bear was thrilled to see Travel Bear and his new friend, Nikos. Petros, our fish, was delighted to see us, I must say. Splashing about like a mad fish, craving a snack like his Mom. My very thoughtful father had stopped by the apartment and left us Publix subs and the best pound cake in the world.

Our trip was truly blessed, from start to finish. While I am eager to get back to Greece, I want to always be thankful for the opportunity I had to go, even one time. I have more about which to write, including meeting family and a race report!

God is good.

Ενθρανστο.

At this moment, we are waiting in a hotel lobby for a taxi to the airport. I just got off of a video call with my parents, who were happy to see me. It seemed as though we hadn’t been video calling all along through the last two weeks that Adonis and I have been in Greece. In fact, they seemed a bit nervous, and I believe it’s for the same reason that I have butterflies in my stomach.

Ζωή είναι ένψρανστη. Life is fragile.

As terrible as my reading of Greek is, I have much more control over that than I have over much else, from whether our cab makes it on time to the safety of our 31 hours of travel time back to our blessed home. I was both taken aback and appreciative yesterday as we went on our last ferry ride to see one of the crew members do a sign of the cross as we left the port. I assume that he makes that journey several times a week, but it didn’t appear that he took his lack of control for granted. The blue waters of the Aegean offer life for many but can pose a great threat as well. The brilliant minds who have made it possible for us to travel 5,764 miles within 31 hours cannot offer us a guarantee of a safe return.

If you are reading this, I ask that you pray for a safe journey for Adonis and I, who happens to be handling his nervousness by pacing around the lobby. Yes, I understand air travel is statistically very safe, and I expect to be in my bed tomorrow evening, but life is fragile. I thank God for this amazing trip, which I will be writing about more in a days (yes, I did find a race here), and ask for His continued protection on our journey home. Also, for some self-control at duty free. Amen.

Unclenched: A Marriage Lesson

I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty sure I learned everything I need to know about marriage on the flight home from our honeymoon. 
It’s not exactly news that flying is not my favorite. Early in our relationship, I shared with Adonis that I looked forward to flying with him because I would be able to hold his hand when I got scared. Would you believe that he didn’t commit that to memory for use a year and a half later? Ugh, maybe I made a mistake…

I kid. I know it’s unreasonable to expect someone to remember everything that I find to be important, even as attentive as he is. And thus we come to –

Lesson One:  You will have to repeat yourself. 

Before I become frustrated, I need to remember the “plank in my own eye.” How often must I be reminded of things by colleagues, friends, and parents? And I GUESS I don’t have a 💯 track record of remembering everything Adonis tells me. I guess. 

Would you believe that all it took for Adonis to be supportive was saying “Hey, I don’t like this!” Just like that, he was working to distract me on our journey to our new life together. 

Our pilot had warned us from the beginning of the flight that the weather as we approached our destination would worsen. Read: that means I won’t have to say anything to Adonis and he will just know that I am frightened when I give the look. Right? 

Lesson Two: Don’t expect him to read your mind. 

Evidently, my looking at him and holding his hand doesn’t mean “I’m freaking out!” in every context. Who. Knew. The first time I felt any turbulence, I reached for his hand and looked at him. He smiled and looked out of the window.  “Babe. It’s bumpy,” I said. “If I take your hand in flight it’s not about love, but fear.” He laughed and reassured me that we were fine. 

There were few moments where our flight was perfectly smooth. It made it difficult for me to – well, unclench. You know what I mean. Each time I would take a full breath, I realized exactly how tense I was. We never experienced the scary drop or anything, but there were too many bumps for me to relax. I looked over at my husband, who was perfectly chill, watching Creed. How could he not feel what I’m feeling?  I thought.

Lesson Three: You did not marry your carbon copy. He’s not going to see things the way you do. 

I tried to be brave; to not reach for his hand as often as I felt compelled to do so. 

Lesson Four: You’re married now. You can’t pretend that you don’t need anyone anymore – the jig is up. Really. Up.

As the plane was landing, I saw that it was quite cloudy. I grimaced. “Okay. This is going to be bad,” said Adonis. He grabbed my hand. 

Lesson Five: You are likely to see eye to eye where it really counts.

We were finally below the clouds. I kissed my husband and looked down, where I saw the city of Orlando below. I finally felt comfortable enough to smile – the last 5 minutes of the flight. I spent an hour and 45 minutes fairly miserable because I dislike the bumps. 

Lesson Six: If you unclench just long enough, perhaps you will find the beauty – maybe even humor – in life’s turbulent moments. 

Here’s to a long life of enjoying the ride, no matter what it brings. 

  
 

Calico.

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There’s my scaredy cat! One of the legend of Tiger, Calico freaks out about a lot of stuff. Like his Mommy, he takes great comfort in shoes, tee hee.

As I write, I’m seated at the airport terminal, waiting to board the plane for my very first destination race. My level of excitement, on a scale from 1-10? 0.

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Odd, considering that I neither have to fly nor race, and I am here by my own doing. I wish it were just the nervousness for the half-marathon that awaits me, but there’s more.

I bloody hate to fly. Why? I might die, of course. Yes, I understand that by miles traveled, flying is the safest way to travel. Never mind that. I’m here simply because driving would be highly inefficient and likely more expensive.

Each time I fly, I am reminded of how little control I have over anything aside from my attitude. I was thinking this morning of how freaked out I was about the swim at St. Anthony’s. The bay is so big and unpredictable and Lady J is so small – and fairly predictable, by comparison. 🙂 At least then I was in control of moving myself forward. Now all I can do is sit and pray that this pilot person knows what the hell he is doing. And that no one is in the mood for mischief the way they were in Ukraine yesterday. 😦

The kind of fear that I have is evidence of my privileged life. The idea of a few bumps or a few choppy waves is enough to make me very uncomfortable. I’m thankful that God is with me both in the water and in the air. I pray that He continues to humble me and may I have the awareness to know that He is in control, even when I feel like I am.

NB: Port-a-potty > airplane lavatory.

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