04.30.2007 -17 °C
I’d only been on an airplane twice before. And both times they had been small trips in small planes. This was a new experience for me. I’m a nervous traveler to begin with and I’ve always had a fear of flying. I honestly don’t even remember going through Toronto’s Pearson Airport at all. I don’t remember baggage, the terminal, or boarding the plane. There were so many airports that they all sort of blur together. I do remember pieces of the first leg of the journey. Toronto to Los Angeles. It was early afternoon when we left and was around dusk when we got to LA. Jay and I had a wing seat but the seats weren’t right up against the window. They were in towards the aisle more. This meant that even thou I had a window seat, I couldn’t really see very well out of it. I did get to see some mountains somewhere over the States though they only looked like small hills from where we were. I definitely remember LAX. Wow. That airport should be its own state! What a madhouse!! Going thru security was unnerving. Everyone looked so strict and suspicious of everyone. We had to put all our carry-on bags and belongings in the bins including our shoes and do the whole ‘metal detector thing’. They even swabbed my camera and when out of curiosity I asked why, they sternly said they were looking for bomb residue! It was very freaky. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so insecure. Because LAX is so huge, we had to catch a bus to the terminal that we were supposed to be taking off from. There was a layover, so we had just enough time to get ourselves together and find the right terminal. There were 6 of us; JD, his dad Jim (the man responsible for me even going in the first place), Jim’s father, Huey, Jim’s sister-in-law Bonnie & her daughter Sarah and myself. Sarah was 13 at the time, and it was also her first big trip so we were a big bunch of wide-eyed, unorganized people except for Jim. Thank god for him! He is meticulously organized or we may have ended up in Russia if he hadn’t been along to steer us in the right direction.
Our layover in LAX, I think, was about 3hrs. We had followed the sun over and it was now dark out. Most of the shops in the terminal were closed so there was not much to do but sit around. When we finally boarded the aircraft and it was no longer a plane. It was a jet. A very BIG jet. The biggest one I had ever been on and it was a bit freaky for me. Jay and I ended up in a middle row of seats this time and I was between him and a woman with a baby. My first thought, was “oh my god! I cannot sit beside a screaming baby the entire way there!!” This leg of the trip would take about 18hrs, provided we didn’t come crashing down into the ocean (something I was very afraid of happening). More and more people were boarding and to me it was feeling smaller and smaller. My mind was racing. All I could think about was sitting in this metal TUBE, flying over the ocean, how on earth was it going to stay up?! I was having a minor panic attack. I felt helpless because I knew I couldn’t just get up and run off the plane like I wanted to. I couldn’t get off the plane. I don’t like to be in situations I don’t have any control over! But I had to just deal with it. I put on my mp3 player and went into my own head for a bit, to mentally calm myself down. I was sure I was going to be sick. I remember grabbing JD’s hand and squeezing. The flight attendants did their little speech about the exits. The seatbelt light came on. We started to move. Slowly at first…then faster and faster till I could feel the nose lifting off the ground. It really is the most unusual feeling. I was kind of glad that it was dark out so I couldn’t see the outside world rushing by me. Once we leveled out, I let out a big breath that I didn’t even realize that I had been holding. I’m so glad that they showed movies the entire flight there. I don’t remember what any of the ones on the way over were, but it kept my mind occupied.. The baby beside me slept like, well, like a baby. I was in and out of sleep constantly. I was uncomfortable and chilly. My legs needed to stretch. My back was sore. There was no room to move. A few rows back a little girl about 6 years old cried and whined for what felt like a hundred hours. All in all, it was a pretty miserable ride. I just wanted to get off that plane. I had this huge fear that this trip just wasn’t going to be worth this horrible 18 hour plane ride. We were still following the sun over so it was dark the entire way. 18 hours of darkness is very strange. It’s like a never-ending night. You don’t realize it until you actually sit thru it. Just as I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, a small light started to shine thru the windows. I looked up at the map on the wall in front of us and it showed a small airplane coming towards a big mass of land We were there…and the sun was coming up. The longest night of my life was finally coming to an end. I leaned up as far as I could to see out the windows. My first view of Australia was of the sun rising over the skyline of Sydney. It was beautiful.