Airplanes, or the Sky Is Falling

Today’s incident with the Malaysian plane downed in the Ukraine has set me to thinking about air travel and my associated memories. I was 10 years old the first time I flew in a plane, which would have been about 1966.  I flew with my mother from Little Rock via Dallas to San Francisco, and then a short hop on a little plane to Stockton, California.

Chronological is kinda boring, but I don’t know any other way to do it — will just go where the keyboard takes me.  The story itself isn’t boring — at least not to me, nor do I think it will be for you if you bear with me!  (Otherwise I wouldn’t bother to share…)

My next flight was from Little Rock to Binghamton, NY, where I eventually moved.  And after that, my next trips on metal birds were into and out of Pittsburgh, PA.  Followed by my most adventurous trip, to Helsinki, Finland, from Washington, DC.

The Helsinki trip was interesting.  1993, or was it 1994?  I went for the month of October for my birthday — nearly everything interesting happens in October or July.  I’d had an online friend of many years there who had become a romantic interest, and it seemed we were both in need of change, comfort, and care.  She has left a lasting mark on my life and I will forever be grateful for what we shared.

Here’s a picture of me and my friend in Helsinki:

Terry and Eva 1993 - Finland

Anyway, this was my first international flight, and I’d done darn little traveling on my own.  So I was nervous and scared.  I remember the pilot announcing that we’d just flown over Iceland, and I looked out the window and could see nothing but a sea of clouds, and yet knew the destination was near.  As I wobbled off the plane, the first thing I saw was a Coke machine — not what I’d expected to first see in Finland, and I thought the plane must have doubled back to the US!!

I had never gone through immigration and customs, and was expecting my friend to meet me at arrival.  All of the other passengers stampeded onward, but I stood at the gate, clueless.  Human life had disappeared, and I was alone on a glossy tile floor with rays of Helsinki sunrise streaming through the plate glass window.

I was petrified my friend had forgotten me, was unreliable, or wasn’t who she’d told me she was.  Like a statue, I stood, waiting.  Then a very TALL woman in dark blue skirt and blazer uniform, wearing high heels clacking on the polished floor, and carrying a walkie-talkie approached.  She said something to me in Finnish, and I near whispered, “I don’t speak Finnish…”

The woman immediately switched to flawless English, and all but took my hand to lead me through immigration and customs, where my friend WAS waiting on me.  It was an awesome experience — treated to the backrooms of the Helsinki University astronomy library where old telescopes from the time of Galileo were stored, an English-language class in Espoo, and a REAL Finnish sauna…

My next international flight was to Montreal, Canada, for my surgery.  Here, we must segue back to the events of 9/11.  On that vibrant, shining morning, I was living in Washington, DC.  I was at home, and my partner, Kathleen (Kim) Alman called me to tell me to turn on CNN at around 9:30am.  Stunned.  Watched the endless loops of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers.  And then the Pentagon was struck, with one winged bird still missing from airspace…  Knowing that it was probably aimed for the White House or the Capitol Building.  Might it fall or be shot down over my condo??

Anyway, the aftermath of 9/11 was surreal, for both the world and the residents of DC.  Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the White House, was closed off to vehicular traffic and concrete impediments were put in place.  Tanks stood parked on K Street, with uniformed personnel directing traffic, machine guns on their shoulders or in their hands.

So when I flew to Montreal, which would have been somewhere between 2002 – 2004  (would have to find my old passport to be sure…), it was only shortly after 9/11.  And only my second international flight…

The “going” was rattling enough — the security procedures that had been initiated at airports and the fear of bombs on the airplanes.  But coming back to DC was a doozie.  The gates at the Montreal airport were enclosed by plate glass.  I was waiting to board the plane, when we were all called out by people in military gear, in uniform and with machine guns.  Bomb-sniffing dogs searched the rows of seats.  And then, before we were let back inside the departure gate, we waiting to board the flight were asked to stand in a line as our carry-on luggage was hand-searched, piece by piece.

All this was a bit much for the boy who’d been a girl, who’d been a lesbian, whose mother was only a secretary, who was legally blind, and who was the first one in his family to attend college.  So with that frame of reference, we come to Paula….

Honey, this is one big SMOOCH for you, in honor of our impending 4th wedding anniversary.

That first trip to the UK is one I will never forget — I’m sure it is etched in the stars.  As a warning.  Promised the moon, the sun, the rainbow, so full of hopes and dreams.  Adele’s song best illustrates:

“Rolling In The Deep”

There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, it’s bringing me out the dark
Finally I can see you crystal clear
[Clean version:] Go ‘head and sell me out and I’ll lay your ship bare
[Explicit version:] Go ‘head and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare
See how I leave with every piece of you
Don’t underestimate the things that I will doThere’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch
And it’s bringing me out the darkThe scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it, to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)Baby, I have no story to be told
But I’ve heard one on you
And I’m gonna make your head burn
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Make a home down there
As mine surewon’t be shared(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love remind me of us
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it, to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
But you played it, with a beatingThrow your soul through every open door (woah)
Count your blessings to find what you look for (woah)
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold (woah)
You’ll pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow (woah)
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
We could have had it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
It all, it all, it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)

But you played it
You played it
You played it
You played it to the beat.

(Here.)  Or viewed directly, here:
Yeah, I was innocent and buoyed, but also frightened to the core.  The trip was in October of 2009, and I already knew about the bloodless carcass of the “beheaded” rabbit she’d found in her back yard, but I didn’t yet know that she’d tried to get rid of the rabbits even before I’d met her online.  So I was both madly in love, and yet the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.
From my trip to Helsinki and Montreal, I already knew about going through customs and immigration.  With “special assistance,” I was conveyed to the arrival gate via motorized cart.  There was a 5 ft wall set up at arrival at Gatwick.  I strained to see Paula, wondering if she would actually be there, but then I saw her mop of bleached blonde hair and her arm waving and her calling out my name.
As the motorized cart went along the barrier, Paula moved forward quickly and reached over to grab my hand.  The first time in this life that we touched, skin-to-skin (though I’d already seen all there was to see…).  Her hand was large and warm and she grasped my little hand with all the love in the universe.  Or so I thought at the time.  It was electric and something that is sealed in my mitochondria.  I am on a waiting list for a lobotomy.  😉
This hardly scratches the surface of my relationship with airplanes, flying, and things to do with the cosmic sky.  But it will suffice for now.  I will leave you with her own hand-scrawled note which at my request, she gave me in a moment of unbridled rage:
I WILL MAKE THE RULES - PAULA - JPG

IMPORTANT NOTE:  All views are an expression of my opinion only.

Advertisements

About DogDharma

Dog Dharma is written by a human who loves dogs and who believes dogs have attained enlightenment. The human behind Dog Dharma came from humble origins, has faced many trials, enjoyed many adventures, and taken a path less traveled. He claims no special privilege or expertise, and remains humble. Dog Dharma‘s author has learned a few things along the way, and has much yet to learn. He has been told by many people that he has a talent for writing, and aspires to write a book, but is a little too lazy and disorganized, so his blog will suffice for now. He opens a window into his life in the hope that some of his words may be of comfort, some may be a beacon or warning, and perhaps he will connect with like-minded souls. Everything shared comes from a place of openness and honesty, but with no claim that he possesses the Truth. People and places mentioned should be taken as pseudonyms. In many cases, details may be an amalgamation of actual events disguised to protect the “innocent.” Nothing written is to be taken as actual fact, but as the author of Dharma Dog‘s limited understanding. From the mouths of the Beatles: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s