Trigger Warning: Airplanes
My recent trip to Indiana for my sister Melanie's wedding was my first time setting foot on an airplane in nearly three and a half years. For a time, I didn't know if I would ever set foot on an airplane again after reading about the incident of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 on April 28, 1988, when explosive decompression tore off a big chunk of the roof and ejected flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing to God knows where. I can only imagine a fraction of the mindless terror that consumed her final moments. Okay, I thought after reading that, if I ever set foot on an airplane again, I'm staying seated with my seatbelt on at all times, even if it's a twelve-hour flight. But then I proceeded to read about the incident of United Airlines Flight 811 on February 24, 1989, when explosive decompression ejected nine passengers along with the seats where they were sitting with their seatbelts on. At least one had the good fortune of going straight into the engine and not being afraid for very long. Before learning this information, my biggest fear was the airplane itself falling out of the sky. It had never in my worst imaginings occurred to me that being launched into the stratosphere on my own was a possibility. Silly me.
It's no good telling me that airplane disasters are very rare. I know it. They still happen, and if one happens to me, I'm not going to derive much comfort from reflecting on how unlikely it was and what an unlucky s.o.b. I am. It's no good telling me how much safer airplanes are than cars. I know it. I'd rather be in a car crash than a plane crash any day. I've been in three car crashes and nothing happened to me. If I were in a plane crash with no physical injury, I would still relive it in nightmares for the rest of my life. So if anything at all goes wrong on an airplane where I'm a passenger, I want to die, as fast as possible. But as is usually the case after I learn yet another piece of horrible information about the world I live in, I became desensitized to these incidents with time, and returned to my previous default state of fear. I can get on an airplane but I just hate every second of takeoff and every moment that it shakes or jolts or turns slightly. On my first flight I noted the loud noise of the wind around my window, and that it intensified when I pressed against the wall. I wondered what would happen if the window popped out. I assumed it would suck my head out and break my neck.
Prior to these flights, I finally renewed my state ID that expired in 2017. It was already expired by a few months during my last airplane trip, and security told me to renew it but let me through both ways anyway. Since then I've also used it to sign up for utilities, sign a voters' referendum against state Republicans' proposed hike in grocery taxes, and visit a friend in prison. White privilege? In any case, there wasn't much incentive to renew it. But I figured airport security might be less lenient this time.
Indiana was much nicer this time of year than in December. Very warm, much green. I took some pictures that I'm too lazy to retrieve from my phone for the three people who will read this post. Melanie had a nest of robins right outside her window, and they fledged the same day she got married. She and another sister lived there with my parents, and then I arrived, and then my paternal grandmother arrived, and then my sister and brother-in-law and niece arrived, and then my maternal grandparents and uncle and aunt and six cousins arrived. Nineteen people, fifty gigabytes a month of craptacular rural Wi-Fi. Shudder. I got bounced around through four different sleeping arrangements.
Funny Quotes from My Cousins
After I toasted a marshmallow for cousin Hannah, she said to her sister Lucy, "Christopher is a kind soul! You are - a murderer."
*Playing a card game called "You Gotta Be Kitten Me"*
Uncle Russ: Is it wrong to call my son a loser?
Cousin Jaden: I learned from the best, or should I say the worst.
Uncle Russ: Don't talk about your mother like that.
*Playing "Apples to Apples"; the word is "Scrumptious"*
Cousin Lucy: I'll tell you who's scrumptious - this person in my class named Mason.
*Sister Sarah and I look at each other as if to verify that we both just heard what we think we just heard*
Uncle Russ: I don't have enough guns.
Melanie got married in the Indianapolis Indiana Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I guess it's kind of a cheap temple compared to the one I'm used to, because I could hear traffic outside while in the sealing room. I thought temples were supposed to be soundproofed. What if a fire truck had gone by during the special moment? Everyone also noticed some kind of loud drip-drip-drip from the vicinity of one portion of the ceiling, but it stopped before the ceremony. The sealer gave good and inoffensive counsel. At my previous sister's wedding, the sealer told her and her husband how lucky they both were to be getting married at twenty-three before they got too settled into their single lifestyles, which I found rather insensitive. This guy would have been justified in similarly telling Melanie and her husband how lucky they both were to be getting married at twenty-one long before their brains are fully developed, but he didn't.
My previous sister had kissed her husband long and hard with tears streaming down her face, prompting the sealer to opine, "I think they just had their first family prayer." This kiss was as quick as the one by which Natalie Hinton made me a True Aggie. After that, of course, the guests were to greet the newlyweds as we filed out onto the temple grounds for photo ops, and for some reason everyone made me go first even though I was on the opposite side of the room. I wished someone else had set the precedent because I didn't know what to do. I hugged my sister, of course, but then I didn't know what to do with her husband because I'd exchanged fewer than twenty words with him in my life. I whispered, "Should I hug you or just shake your hand?" He whispered back - but unlike me, in a normal volume that everyone could hear - "You can hug me." Cue giggles.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.