I have never been a world traveler, despite my desire to see more of the world.  The usual monetary, time, and transportation restraints keep me from running around much, so any great trips I take are few and far between.  As a result, I reached over twenty years of my life without ever being on an airplane.  But then about six years ago I was able to get on my first flight to visit Florida for the first time in my life with a dear friend of mine.

My friend’s mother works for an airline and had some friends living in Florida.  They invited her, her son (my friend), and any one other person her son wanted to bring to come down and visit them for a weekend.  The trip was scheduled to occur around July, about a month before my birthday so my friend decided to take me as an early birthday present.  Free trip to Florida?  Like I was going to turn that down.

So we gather our stuff and head out to the airport, and just going through all the check in systems got my nerves going as I had never been in an airport in my life either, and of course this just so happens to be the first time I am pulled aside for a ‘random’ search and pat down.  They went through my luggage, took me behind a screen, patted me down, and all that other fun stuff.  We go through all the razzle dazzle of security, wait out the loading time by the gate as we all do, before boarding the plane for sunny Florida.

Now I think is the time to mention that I have a heart condition.  Incredibly mild, to the point where I forget I have it most days until it is actually bothering me.  And all that happens is I get a little hiccup in my heartbeat, almost like an extra beat to the rythem, that makes my chest feel funny and every once in a blue moon makes me short of breathe.  But I blame that mostly on my asthma.

And here I was getting on a plane!

Of course I don’t think about any of this until I’m strapped into my seat and it’s getting ready for takeoff.  Needless to say, at this point I start to get a little worried, but thankfully my friend was seated next to me and was able to talk me through the worst of it, which wasn’t really that bad.  I stared out the window at everyone on the tarmac busy getting out plane ready for take off.  I watched the airport roll by as we taxied down the runway.  And I remember the pressure on my chest and in my ears as the plane started to take off.

Ironically enough it was the pressure in my ears that was the worst.  The pressure on my chest was worrisome at first, but it didn’t become overbearing, it was over quickly, and I had a hand to hold through it all.  And then when we were in the air…I was breathless for real.  For the first time in my life I was looking down over the world, watching the tops of clouds float by beneath and around me.  It was wondrous, exhilarating, and scary all at the same time.

Thankfully, our flight was uneventful and and we landed without incident and had a blast in Florida.  We went shopping, hit up Universal Studios, went swimming in the pool out back, and wandered around a beautiful neighborhood before getting back on a plane to come home.  Thankfully, my only fear coming home was weather or not I’d be pulled aside yet again for a search.  I handled the ride home better than the ride there.

And a few months later I asked my friend out and we’ve been together now for five years.