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Fear and Driving From New Jersey

August 3, 2010

People are surprised to hear that I won’t fly.  Get some Valium, get drunk, here’s my old prescription of Xanax.  Well, firstly, I don’t know where to get a Valium.  From the doctor you say?  Don’t have one of those. Number six: doctors (see number 1 on list for reason why.)

They really look like they belong on a candy necklace.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, I have never taken Valium, or (to my knowledge) Xanax, so right there that brings my anxiety level from a nothing to a four. (Like being in college and doing acid for the first time.  I got so worked up that I left the room, spit it out, and then pretended all night.  It was exhausting.)  I won’t get plastered at an airport bar to allay my fear, because I tend to get a little anxious when I’m drinking. And when I’m drunk, all bets are off, emotionally speaking.

Rob would happily fly anywhere, and he has up until he met me in 1999.  For me, the thought of flying starts a panic attack.  (The heartbeat, the dizzy, the hitting things to make it stop, the feeling of “this is it.”)  Rob and I have only been on a plane together twice.  His sister got married in St. Lucia in 2005.  Obviously, I had to fly there.  I had an episode in the middle of Newark Airport.  I was walking with Rob and his brother, and I just got overwhelmed.  I stopped, dropped my bags and cried, probably sending several security cameras panning my way, zooming in on the reluctant bomber.  It took several yards for Rob and his brother to realize I wasn’t with them.  Rob’s brother asked, “Rob?  Is she okay?”

After Rob calmed me down, told me I didn’t have to go, kissed my forehead, and held my hand the rest of the way, possibly to make sure he didn’t lose me again. We proceeded to security where I was then selected to step aside for the random, thorough screening.  Our trip involved two planes, one had propellers.

So, is it “won’t fly” or “can’t fly”?  I can’t.  “But, do you know,” those pill-pushing globetrotters ask, “how many people fly every day?”  Yes, I know.  “Do you know it’s actually safer in a plane than it is a car?” they ask. I humbly disagree. I know that they are just trying to help, and they love me, but flying is not safer.  Not for me.

The zombie elevator operators don't help the situation.

In fact, I don’t like anything scary.  Haunted houses, roller coasters, jumping from a plane, jumping off anything, high speeds, being lost, bungee jumping, parasailing, anything someone might consider “thrilling,” or “extreme.”  Once, early in our relationship, Rob and I drove to Florida and lived for about a month.  We did the Disney thing and Rob took me on the Tower of Terror.  We got closer to the front of the line. I heard screaming, and despite my insistence that I didn’t want to go on the ride anymore, and attempt to step out of the line, Rob assured me it would be fun!  (He didn’t know me that well yet.) The ride had a pretty accurate name.  It’s an elevator that goes to the top floor, the doors open up over the entire Disney park, then the elevator falls.  This happens repeatedly.  I scarred Rob by digging my nails into his arm. Once again, Rob’s brother was there.  He asked the same question, “Rob?  Is she okay?”  The ride’s tagline is:  “Never the Same Fear Twice!  The Tower is in Control!”  No, I was not okay.

I regret my fear.  I’ve never been anywhere, really.  My mom used to offer to bring me to Paris, expenses paid.  No thank you, I’d say. I’m sad for Rob who, like I said, would fly anywhere.  I stop us from going on vacations, like real, island or cultural vacations.  We get away by car, but clearly Vernon Valley, NJ isn’t an island or cultural. Often I think how cool it would be to travel, to be an adventurer, a jetsetter, an explorer.  But, I just can’t by air.

So, in a few short days, we set out, traveling the only way that doesn’t freak me out, cross-country by car and taking the train home.  Rob keeps saying that this mode of transportation isn’t because I’m afraid to go it by air, and that’s mostly true.  He loves the idea of the train and the drive.  Since I was in college, driving cross-country is something I’ve always wanted to do, Rob too, and it’s either now or when we retire. Now, now, now.

I am ready for a big adventure, a nearly 5,000 mile adventure, ready to live in the moments on the road, to see nature outside of New Jersey, to shake off all this anxiety, to stand on a street in Casper and say, “This is Wyoming.  I’m in Wyoming, and I drove here,” to do this all with Rob.  And with any luck, maybe the further I get from New Jersey, the further away my fears will be.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrea permalink
    August 3, 2010 6:47 pm

    Apryl,
    I am going to start calling you Baracus. ps. Valium and Xanax are awesome. Forget taking them to fly, just take them.

    • August 3, 2010 6:53 pm

      Mother’s Little Helper! Haha! Oh, if you could slip me a mickey and take me somewhere as they did to B.A., I’d be fine. But, it has to be a total surprise.

  2. Pete Reader permalink
    August 3, 2010 11:18 pm

    You need to think about a big boat and go to Europe with Rob. It takes longer, but the view is good.

  3. Pete Reader permalink
    August 3, 2010 11:20 pm

    MY son, Sam, had the exact Disney experience. It’s not unusual. And he was on Xanax. Didn’t help.

    • August 4, 2010 1:52 am

      It’s terrible. I have always liked Sam. We share a similar spirit!

  4. August 4, 2010 11:12 pm

    You are an amazing writer, Apryl. I am so impressed. You never cease to amaze me, sister.

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