*Rated M for mature. Adult language.
How was my first time flying?
Well, let's first take into consideration that I did everything wrong.
I didn’t eat.
I didn’t drink.
I didn’t sleep.
I didn't even pack right.
Yet somehow I got through it.
Eat. Drink. Seriously.
The only things I ate over 24 hours of flying and layover-ing was a very large muffin and airplane bread. In my defense, I don't eat when I'm anxious; it just makes me nauseous. I also get carsick easily, so a part of me was worried I would get plane sick too. The thing is, though, I probably would have felt much better had I eaten more than a handful of bread while country-hopping.
When it came to drinking, I barely did that either. Similar to eating while anxious making me feel sick, drinking while anxious sometimes doesn't go so well. I have difficulty swallowing, which incites panic because I worry I'm going to choke or upchuck, then I realize I'm not breathing, and in the end I wind up forcing down a mouthful of air and drink, which, naturally, makes me feel sick and adds to the anxiety that was there in the beginning.
So, to avoid that cycle, I didn't drink anything. For 24 hours I may have consumed a single cup of water, maybe.
That was an awful decision.
You should definitely stay hydrated on a flight, my friends. I don't know if it's the altitude or what, but my lack of hydration undeniably played a part in the rough time I had on the six planes it took for me to get home and back. Water makes your body work and flying can reign hell on your body, especially if you're a woman. So drink, damnit.
The entire time I fought a battle between my mind and body, psyching myself out instead of taking care of my physical well-being. The lack of physical care resulted in more mental & emotional stress, but it was all caused by things that were in my control.
So, eat. Drink. Breathe.
Don’t fret about the airplane bathrooms.
Even though they are like something out of a sci-fi film, they were nowhere near disgusting. Instead, they were just incredibly small. I am not a fan of tight spaces, but I stayed calm by moving very slowly and taking my time, other passengers be damned.
I should have caught some more Z's.
Though watching the sun rise and set over the ocean while suspended thousands of feet in the air was one of the most beautiful things my young eyes had ever seen, I would have preferred to have been sleeping.
I know there are a hundred suggestions about when to sleep, how long to sleep, or if you should sleep on a flight (all in the hopes of limiting jet lag), but I say sleep when you’re sleepy. I tried to sleep—and maybe got a full 3 hours broken up into very short and light naps—but it wasn’t enough. Perhaps the excitement (or anxiety) coursing through my body was enough to fuel me over that 24 hour high altitude stress fest, but I know that not sleeping took a toll on me, whether or not I noticed it. In fact, it probably made my anxiety worse.
Somehow, though, I didn’t have any jet lag when I arrived in Rabat. Upon my return to the States, though, that jet lag hit me and it hit hard.
On the way home, on the flight from New York to Richmond, I had some terrible cramps and nausea, in part because of turbulence thanks to some rain. Barf bag in hand, I was fully prepared to accept the upchucking I saw in my future, but we landed just in time for me to be able to just sit still. I sat there, motionless for as long as I could until the sick feelings went away and I was able to stand up. Honestly, that whole ordeal may have been the scariest part of the international trip.
What else is there to say?
Oh, right, right, I almost forgot.
I specifically remember the moment when I realized perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip. It was something I knew, something I could count on, yet I was unable to imagine it until the moment when it actually occurred.
I was taken aback when I realized the sheer speed of an airplane. In fact, the exact thought I had was that airplanes are fucking fast.
It sounds like a “no duh” kind of moment, but truly . . . the feeling of my body suddenly being smushed against a cheap plush seat was an experience I could never have prepared for. It wasn’t like a roller coaster—no—it was like the first time traveling at warp speed.