This One Time, 77

This one time I was flying back to the city. We were in a steep bank. I was in a window seat — I always get a window seat if I can — right in front of the wing. It was an excellent view.

When I’m on the ground I like to watch the clouds. Apparently when I’m up among the clouds, I like to watch the ground. I have a dear friend who would call that typical. A symptom of never being happy where I am, no matter how good I’ve got things.

I’m not denying that I might have an issue there. Every morning when I’ve gotten dressed and I’m leaving the house, I remember something else I probably should have chosen to wear. I’m always wearing the wrong makeup, at the wrong restaurant, watching the wrong movie, or with the wrong man. I don’t choose well, but I’m good at making do.

Today, for instance, I wore the wrong shoes for getting through airport security quickly and doing a lot of walking or standing around in airports. They look good with the jeans, though.

And it’s not like when I’m up in the air, looking at the ground, I want to be back on the ground. I like flying. Maybe I just want to be able to see where the ground is. To make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be. To make sure … it’s not on fire or something.

So this one time, during this steep banking maneuver, I was in a perfect place to see this bright light go whizzing past and zip straight into the ground below.

The first thing I did was try to look at the ground where it probably hit to see if it did any damage, but I couldn’t make out the ground too well there. It may have actually hit the river. Then I looked around the plane to see if anyone else had seen it, but no one else was looking out the window as far as I could see. Then I looked back out the window to see if I could see any more of whatever it was. That was about when it occurred to me that it could have been some kind of missile, maybe something shot at our plane from another plane or from the ground far enough away I didn’t see it come up.

No one announced from the cockpit that we seemed to be under attack, but, after thinking about that for a while, I wasn’t sure that they would. All I know is that my hands and feet were going cold the way they do when I’m afraid or under stress and my chest was getting that tight feeling that was making me crave my inhaler, something I hadn’t touched in years.

When I looked back out the window, a black circle was spreading out on the ground from the area where the impact should have occurred. It was like the ground was collapsing into a huge spreading sinkhole, getting enormously bigger very quickly. I was starting to see little points of light in the spreading blackness, and I realized that it looked like, more than anything, I was seeing stars. Like what I would see if the ground wasn’t there and I was looking clear through to the other side. And then there was nothing but stars.

I was suddenly very dizzy, like I’d been spinning, like I did as a little girl, spinning in the yard to see how long I could go without feeling like I had to throw up. I would experiment to see if it was any worse with my eyes open versus my eyes closed. And eyes closed was always worse. I kept my eyes open. I didn’t blink or breathe.

And then I noticed that the plane was tilted the other way, with the wing I was in front of pointed up into the night sky, and the stars were where they were supposed to be. When we leveled out, so was the ground. There was no way I would have been able to mistake lights from building windows and streetlights and taillights and headlights from cars as stars. And, unless I had been spinning, I rarely had any trouble telling up from down. But we came out of our banking turn headed the other way.

I’m really not sure what happened then, whether I maybe had a mini-seizure and lost a few seconds of time or something similar, some kind of passing illness. But ever since that moment I’ve been super-aware of little niggling differences in how the world is from what I expect, and the world has stopped feeling totally real to me, like some parts of it are just a dream.

And I don’t know what to do about that.


March 18, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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