Orville and Wilbur Wright had their first successful experiment with the airplane on December 17, 1903. Today the airplane is not perfect or anywhere close to it. There have been crashes, explosions, malfunctions—many fatal. We try not to think about the problems of airplanes in the past, push our thoughts around the fear that this ride could be our last. Every time I step on a plane I wish I had left a will behind, piled all my writings out on the bed for my mom to find and publish, and left account numbers so she could access my money and pay off whatever bills I hoped I could escape from in death. This is my own paranoia of flying without a cape or superman around to save me.
Since I have been flying I have never had a major problem. The planes have always landed safely at the airport whether on time, early, or late. There has been turbulence, which is natural in a pilot's mind. Maybe one or two nosedives from turbulence or minor fuel problems, but we were righted within seconds. In minor turbulence I still feel my insides twisting, my mind screaming at the shaking, and my heart making my goodbyes. I ask the questions that I know I should not: Am I going to die? Will the plane crash? I do not know for sure if others on the plane with me are thinking the same thing. I cannot ask the stranger sitting next to me if he is afraid we will crash. There is this taboo of talking about plane problems—especially while on the plane.
When did this taboo start? There are so many things that we are not supposed to talk about to discuss. Such as the truth of religion especially at polite dinner gatherings. There is also the choice not to talk about sexual orientation for fear of offending someone or hearing something you are not ready to hear. More than anything it is the discussion of death that seems to be the biggest taboo of all. When anyone mentions dying, people label them as morbid.
Perhaps the most taboo of all is the fear of death rather than death itself, and so when I am put on an airplane I am stuck in the situation without much of a fighting chance of survival. Sitting in my small chair, the tray lying down in front of me, rattling the ice around in my plastic cup, my right hand grips my left and my eyes open and focus on different points around me. My heart pumps blood quickly throughout my body, my legs start to move, my heels create a beat of anxiety and fear. People near me can see my legs shaking the table when the turbulence settles, and my knuckles go white with gripping.
Every time I am on a plane, I want to turn to the person next to me and introduce myself. I would like to die knowing the people around me, rather than to die amongst strangers. To be with new friends holding their hands, even though they may not hold my hand; I want to think we would die together, at least, rather than die together but separately.