I want to make a couple things clear:
1. I am not brave. I don't take consider myself to be the kind of person who takes risks and chances. Most of my decisions are carefully calculated to keep me safe and protected in all instances.
2. I want good content for my blog. One way of doing that is not being a wimp and doing stuff that is genuinely terrifying. Why am I so dedicated to this blog that I just started? I'm bored I guess. Anyway I digress.
Last week my younger sister called me up and invited me to visit her in San Diego. It was perfect timing for me since my last gig was just wrapping up and I had nothing lined up yet. So I said yes.
I've been looking forward to the trip all week. My bags are packed and ready to go and I am just polishing off an assortment of donuts from Krispy Kreme when I get a text from my sister.
WHO AM I?! WHY DID I AGREE TO THAT?! I can only guess that I was in a weird donut induced state of relaxation and my inhibitions were lowered. And I'm not one to back out of a promise, so plane ride it is.
It's Friday. Plane ride day/day of my death. We arrive at the small airport and I am introduced to John, our pilot. This is a nice picture of him and his sky prison.
John gives my sister and I a tour of the place and then we prepare for departure. I take note of the emergency exits (the two doors) and the in flight entertainment options (windows, seat in front of me that I can kick). John tells us that he's been flying for awhile and that he was practicing the same route he will take us on earlier that morning. I begin to relax. We take a picture of ourselves and I do a good job of hiding the terror brewing inside of me.
And then, with John and my sister in the front and I in the back, we take off. And it's not a big production like when you fly with a major airline, it happens instantly. I'm in the back, eyes shut and clutching my seat and then I open my eyes and we're in the air. And I'm just as terrified as I predicted I would be. The cabin is shaking, I press my hand to the glass and remember that it is the only thing separating me from falling to my heroic airplane death. The ride up is not smooth, but then we get to the coast and I get distracted by the beautiful ocean and the views of the beach.
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I almost forget that I'm 3,000 feet above San Diego until I hear John's voice in my ear saying, "And now we're 3,000 feet above San Diego!" Which is then followed by, "Do you want to try?" as he looks at my sister and motions towards the second set of controls directly in front of her.
Now, my sister is a very talented and smart young woman. She does brave things all the time, like moving across the world to live in Australia for 6 months, or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef or working in a plasma physics lab next to something that's hotter than the sun (she's explained this to me so many times but my brain is incapable of understanding it). She's smart, courageous, and beautiful. But she's not a pilot.
But like I said, she's brave, so she nods an enthusiastic "yes" and grabs control of the plane. My life flashes before my eyes (short but full of pizza), and I can feel sweat pouring out of places I didn't even know were capable of perspiring. I'm fully aware that John teaches people how to fly planes as part of his job, but that doesn't stop me from remembering the one time my sister got her head stuck under a fence. Or the other time that she climbed up a bookshelf and the weight of her small body pulled it down on top of her.
We've been up in the air for about 45 minutes now. My sister is still flying the plane, turning it left and right as John instructs her. Then John takes his camera out and starts taking photos of the world down below. It's just my sister in control. And the plane is still flying. She's actually doing a great job, she is calm and focused. She might be a little afraid, but she's not showing it. She is fearless and capable, she is Amelia Earhart, and she is my amazing baby sister.
At the 50 minute mark, John takes back control of the plane and heads back to the airport. As we prepare for our landing, John tells us that it might be a little bumpy. I resume my now familiar position, shoulders clenched, and fingers tightly gripping the seat underneath me. And then we're on the ground. I breathe out, but I'm still shaking.
I'm torn between admitting how afraid I was or just keeping it to myself. I don't want to seem rude or ungrateful. John gave my sister and I the experience of a lifetime, a beautiful bird's eye tour of San Diego that we would never have taken otherwise. So I laugh it off and shake his hand. I am one grateful, wimpy woman and I am lucky to have such a courageous sister to hold my hand every step of the way. Which she does, the next day we went to the beach and I got into the ocean for the first time in like 10 years. That was also terrifying, because of fish and rip tides and stingrays and sharknados. But I had my brave little Madeline to keep me safe and only make fun of me a little bit.
So Madeline will keep doing brave things, her next big adventure is a trip to Thailand that she is paying for herself. And I'll stick to much calmer things, like writing and perfecting my new waffle recipe. I might even get a little wild and take up candle making or something. There are no more small plane rides in my future. Everything is great down here on the ground.