Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will They Won't They Will They Won't They Won't They Join The Dance

The thing is, I'm not afraid to die. I've told you a million times that, barring something bizarre, my people live as close to forever as you want to imagine. Maybe a little closer. The actual death part, whatever happens next, that doesn't worry me. Maybe it should but, frankly, I don't have enough information (even after watching all six seasons of Lost) to form a worthwhile anxiety over it. So, when I say I'm afraid to get on this plane (or roller coaster or boat or adult film star) I'm not saying that I think I'm going to die. I'm really not, even when I tell you who has to dispose of my porn before the authorities take over.

I'm afraid of everything else.

There's traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or loss of sight or loss of hearing or homelessness or having to sew up my own wounds on a deserted island (much better to have Matthew Fox do it). There's the loss of a pet or a family member or a friend. There's not being there when that happens. There's being responsible for that. But mostly?

There's the time before I die.

From the time I was a kid I was afraid of nuclear holocaust (Thank you, Cold War participants.) but I never pictured the moment the bomb dropped, the blinding light, the searing heat, the melting skin. Writing that doesn't bother me much. That's a pass/fail exam right there. I always fixated on the 20 minutes between launch and impact. People screaming and crying and fighting and fucking and killing and running. I'm core-deep terrified of that feeling.

My Shakespeare teacher used to tell us never to fly with him. He had the worst luck. At least 5 times in his life he'd been on planes with the kind of turbulence where they put you in crash positions and even secured drink carts careened around the cabin. That's the part I do not want. The bit where you know it's coming. The end of Titanic with the people in the steerage cabins pretending they weren't about to be horribly tortured? Almost undid me. (Didn't help I saw it in a theatre that was flooding.)

Those are the things I'm thinking of as I prepare to spend upwards of 12 hours (18 on the way back!) on an enormous plane over water (Eek! Water! Drowning! God, it takes so long!). Short hop flights I can handle because I can keep myself distracted. My brain is strong enough to split in two and allow one side to pull the wool over the other's eyes. After about 6 hours, though, it's too long a course to run. I'm only made to spectate the marathon. I can't stop the thoughts and can't stop feeling whatever free floating anxiety is trapped in the long metal tube with me. (People and their fucking feelings!) Then I can honestly feel the recycled air and know that we don't have any plants on board so the oxygen levels are dwindling and it gets hard to breath and weird to sit still and I'm sick of all my toys and, if I'm on the way back from London, that's usually about the time I can look out the window and see the Empire State Building. In this case I'll have about twice as long to go at that point.

So, when I joke about who will blog my death (anyone?) or find homes for my pets (Pony Express) or clean out my porn drawer (Misti) don't worry. I don't really think I'm going to die. In a way, I'm afraid I won't.


  1. I'm saying it again - you can write. This is EXACTLY how I feel - it's not the dying or what comes after it that freaks me out; it's the knowing it's coming and not being able to do anything about it.

    Did you watch the last episode of Medium? I was completely angst-ridden over that airplane scene. I know EXACTLY what you're saying here, and you render it beautifully.

    Has anyone come through with the Adavan?

  2. Man, for a while there I was really MAD at the final episodes of Medium. But then they pulled it together. Even if it was totally unfair and waited too long! So yes, I did see it. And yes, they brought the fear.

    I've got Tylenol PM and an offer of Xanax so I think I can do this. I really liked the TPM. It did exactly what I needed it to do.

    Also? Thanks.

  3. You need Misti's baggy of pills from her mother. These are my fears too.

  4. Miflohny2:00 PM

    Please do get some sleeping pills. You do need to sleep on the plane.

    I hope the in flight entertainment has improved since I flew to China. Flight attendant beauty contests (in magazine and video form), a string of short videos that had as their punch line a magical force removing skirts and flying them away through the air, and a "romantic" movie featuring conflict between a sophisticated young man in the city and a country gal, didn't do it for me!