But it didn’t start out that way.
Once I was able to get past the whole “oh-my-gawd-I’m-leaving-my-country-along-with-all-that-is-familiar-and-dear-to-me-and-turn-the-plane-around-cuz-I-want-my-mommy!” (You know, that little gem) it was actually pretty cool.
Within 10 minutes Miami became a pinprick of light when I looked behind me, and not much longer after that the world was completely black. I couldn’t tell where the sky and the ocean began or ended. That gave me one more uncomfortable twinge, because I realized I could no longer see the United States. It was really and truly the point of no return. So instead, I turned my head down to where I figured the ocean would be.
That’s when I saw the cool part:
Cruise ships! Three of them! They looked like tiny light-up toy boats in a giant bathtub. They looked like a lot of fun. I kept track of them until they were out of my range of vision. It was at this point that I was starting to wish I was cruising to Europe instead, because amidst all the excitement and preparations for Spain, I forgot this slight but ever-so-important fact: turbulence gives me extreme anxiety.
Ever since my harrowing flight to Puerto Rico last July (message me if you want to ask me about it), turbulence (especially while on a plane flying over the ocean) has become the cause of my worst distress. The ride to Europe was relatively smooth, but every 10-15 minutes or so, I’d feel the tremors going through the plane and I’d break out in a nervous sweat while my chest started clenching. I started to regret eating my last American meal (T.G.I. Friday’s burger — delicious going down, but I had my suspicions it wouldn’t be so great coming back up). My mantra that got me through the whole thing was a mix of “pleasegod-pleasegod-pleasegod-pleasegod” along with “clearskies-clearskies-clearskies-clearskies” and on occasion I’d throw in a few “no-plane-has-ever-gone-down-because-of-turbulence” in order to calm myself.
It was for this reason that I did not sleep during the flight, although I tried. It was also for this reason that I couldn’t focus well enough to read a great book (by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) I brought with me on the plane. In fact, I could not entertain myself in any way, shape, or form.
So, I tried speaking to my neighbor. He was a stout older man who looked European and spoke in a hushed voice, so I couldn’t pick out what language he was speaking. Here is an exact word-for-word copy of our entire dialogue:
Me: Where are you from?
Him: No speak English.
Me: De donde eres?
Him: *shakes head* French.
Me: Oh. *nods and looks away* (I was going to try Portuguese next but figured I’d be denied again so I decided to cut my losses.)
7 hours later:
Me: Je m’appelle Victoire
Him: *hesitates* Je suis Pascal.
Me: P-Pascal? (Cuz what are the chances I’d meet such a stereotype? Apparently very good.)
Me: Okay. *smiles and looks out the window*
So I silently sat there, next to a French gentleman named Pascal who didn’t speak a lick of English or Spanish, unable to sleep, staring out a window that only had a view of blackness, with my only solace amidst bouts of extreme anxiety being the occasional packaged meal or snack that constituted as food given to me by the friendly flight attendants. I felt like I was experiencing first-hand my very own 100 Years of Solitude (which also happens to be the title of the great book I could not enjoy).
Yes. Yes, it was.
Now it might be, but back then it certainly was not.
Stop being amused by my misery.
But THEN, after about 7.5 hours of that nonsense, I saw something that made me completely forget about all of it:
LIGHTS! Beautiful EUROPEAN lights!!!! I could see islands and coastlines and it was GLORIOUS!!!
After that it was euphoric. I was happily eating my blueberry yogurt and croissant (I bet Pascal was happy about that), gazing out the window I could finally see out of, and completely forgetting I was unnaturally flying thousands of feet in the air in a giant metal death box.
Then we flew over Madrid and I almost forgot to breathe because of how awestruck and excited I was. SO COOL!!!!!!
Then we LANDED! It was AWESOME!
And that was my flight to Europe. Quite the experience. If anything, I learned I ought to pick up some conversational French. Or sleeping pills. Whichever works.