06 April 2012

Flying the friendly skies

In 2001, just five months after Dan and Tenessa moved to New York City, Shaun and I decided we'd like to go and visit them. We'd been dating a little over a year, and this was to be our first big trip together. We sat down to plan the details.

"We can stay with my aunt Linda in Michigan the first night," I said, "and if we get up early, I think we can make it there by day two."

"What?" he said, his eyes wide open.

"I have an aunt who lives in Michigan, not far from Detroit. It's not too far out of the way. Or would you rather stay in a hotel?"

"Um, you know they have these things, right? Called airplanes? People get in them and they take them places really fast. So we don't have to drive for 28 hours."

"Oh. Right." I had honestly not even thought of flying.

My people are land-based people. We like to drive places, and 5 or even 10 hours in a car doesn't phase us at all. But an airplane? Hm. How would I get to see my Aunt Linda in Michigan, if we just flew over her? I'm not widely travelled, but everywhere I'd been, I'd driven, or ridden in a bus. New York, D.C., Denver, New Orleans, all were accessible by car. And each time, the journey was part of the adventure.

I agreed, finally, to fly, because though my school year was ending and I had three months off, Shaun still had a real job and didn't want to spend 4 days of vacation trapped in a car with me (the boy has no romance, I tell you).  Several of my students at the time were in the aviation program, so they calmly explained to me that the airplane was indeed safe, and they encouraged me to put my hand out the car window while driving, to help me understand wind resistance and other principles of flight.

Since then, I've flown to New York alone, to Boston for work, and three times to Vegas. I still default to driving, but it is pretty fun to get places in 3 or 4 hours instead of 2 days. Unfortunately, I see a lot less of my dear Aunt Linda....

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