Back in the sky and hijacked by emotions

View from my room near LAX. I wondered why it felt like I
sleeping on the tarmac.

I was fine until beverage service started.

Walking through the airport felt strange though. Were people staring at me? Did they recognize me as “Twitter girl” from that crazy airplane with a sunroof last week? Were they nervous about flying? Worse, did they think I was nervous about flying?

Certainly not. My rational brains have no time for fear. Flying, especially now that Southwest’s entire fleet has been tested from top to bottom, is extraordinarily safe. Even counting sunroof experiences.

I strode through security with confidence. Bare feet, juggling a laptop, roller bag and purse. Hippity hopping to get my sandals back on. Dropping my boarding pass, but confident I tell you. Flight 1110 was going to be fine. And it was.

Until beverage service.

And then my emotions kicked in. I didn’t think nervous or think fear, but I felt them. When the flight attendant came round to take drink orders–the precise moment when the hole that would flip my world upside burst through the fuselage last week–I felt heat rise to my cheeks, my heart thump and tears well, just a bit.

And then I wasn’t nervous or afraid. I was angry.

How dare my body betray me like this. I am not scared. I am not nervous. Right? If I feel it in my body, does it mean I have to accept the emotion? Of course not. We can have a chat about appraisal theories later, but as a student of emotion literature, I know that the “feelings” of emotion in the body–the visceral responses–are typically a matter of arousal and valence. I may feel something–elevated heart rate, goosebumps, whatever–even a lot of something, but the meaning I assign to the feelings is up to me.

So, I choose to reassign my emotions as excitement and (hyper)awareness, instead of nerves or fear. (Of course, I’ll let you know tomorrow if I start blubbering during beverage service on my next flight.)

After a delightfully dull flight, albeit one where I was hyper aware of engine sounds, turbulence and any noise from yonder ceiling panels, I thanked my pilot profusely. He seemed surprised to see an 812-er flying and, like other pilots I’ve encountered, seemed morbidly* curious about “what it was like.” I hope he never ever finds out!


* Seriously. I had dinner with T and a group of his formation flying buddies. They were JEALOUS because they’d never experienced an explosive decompression before. I maintain, pilots are weird, weird people.

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