By the time this quart of milk expires, I will be heading home from a trip to Mexico with my husband—just the two of us.

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This has never happened before. I mean, we have been to Chicago or Nashville, TN for the weekend, but we have never been away alone—without the kids. I can’t wait.

Part of why this has never happened is my fault. I have not flown on an airplane since October 2001.

We flew all the time when I was growing up; at least a few times a year. I didn’t “love” it, but I did it. And part of why I didn’t love it was, given the frequency, we had some pretty scary moments. Losing three engines over the ocean, flying in a tiny plane from Denver to Aspen in a snowstorm, an irate drunk passage…the list goes on and on. These experiences certainly contributed to my growing anxiety over flying.

Then, came adulthood and I was suddenly in charge of my own time and if I didn’t want to fly, I didn’t have to. And I didn’t, at least not very often. In October of 2011, shortly after 9-11, we flew down to see my dad in Miami. At that time, we had just one kid and combined with my normal flying anxiety, the anxiety of flying with a toddler put me over the edge.

And, it’s not crashing that I have anxiety over. I mean, sure, I worry about that sometimes, but that doesn’t drive my anxiety. What drives my anxiety are issues focused on control. Having a good flight experience in influenced by a number of factors and you—or me, the passenger—has almost no control over any of those factors.

I want to control what I want to bring. Over the years, I have actually become a very light packer, but that’s only because I have been given the freedom to chose. But when you fly, you have no choice—you must be a light packer. I like choice.

I want to control my own environment. You have no control on the plane. Okay, you might argue. You have that little vent thingy and a light. Shit, please sister. Dirty air, germy surfaces, nasty stains on carpets. It’s disgusting.

I want to control the company I keep. I want them to be interesting, chatty, not going to get airsick, not smelly, not an annoying whiny toddler. I don’t care what color, where they are from or how much they weigh. I just don’t want them to be mean or throw up.

I want to control the weather. I want to fly on perfect days. I want no turbulence, rain/snow delays, no high winds or that bumpy ride that always appears when you fly over the mountains. I want blue skies with great views.

I want to control the bathroom situation. I have extremely high standards for bathrooms and really don’t like using the bathroom in public if I can avoid it (although, I have gotten better about this over the years). Airplane bathrooms are the nastiest places on the planet. I will never be a member of the Mile-High Club because I would never put my exposed private parts on any surface in that area.

I want to control when we leave and when we get there—and I usually want to go straight there, not through Charlotte, Atlanta or Chicago, unless they are actually legitimately on the way. But, that is never the case when flying.

So, I would love flying if:

  • There were no limits on luggage.
  • I rode in my own little private cabin.
  • I rode in my own little private cabin.
  • We lived in a part of the country where weather was more consistent (instead of snow in October and thunderstorms in February).
  • I rode in my own little private cabin (with a private bathroom).
  • Airlines actually kept a schedule, and it jived with my schedule.

Most of this anxiety can be traced back to my fear of one thing: germs. Germs and vomit. I seriously have an issue with vomit. And, I know you’re all like, “oh, me too.” But, we are talking I have an issue of clinical proportions here. I will tell you about it someday. For now, just trust me that I am mostly afraid to fly because I am afraid of vomit. And germs. And germs in vomit.

Please don’t comment and share a story about a flight you were on where everyone was vomiting because the turbulence was so bad. Or the time you flew and had the stomach flu but had to get home for the holidays. PLEASE don’t do that.

I am going to do it. I am going to fly. I have to. I need to go away for a while—with my husband. And, soon, we need to go away with our kids; further away than I can stand to go in the car. By the time this milk expires, I will be on my way home and ready to write an entry about how I did it. With the help of lots and lots of Xanax.

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