Saturday, January 26, 2008

Learning to Fly - Jan 26

I flew to Omaha two weeks ago. Ah, the heartland in winter - just the place for some R&R. Okay, actually, I went to my cousin's wedding. This cousin is the sister of my cousin (Jason) who was with me during the accident. It felt important that I go for so many reasons - to support their marriage (a gay couple having a ceremony in Nebraska), to see Jason for the first time since my accident, to support their family after some hard times this fall and to see my mom and sister. When I returned home, my mom came along to spend a week with us and help out.

Well, I was afraid to take the trip! I have never been nervous about flying - the statistics about airline safety usually calm my fears. However, the weather was rough, and I had just read Deep Survival. The author (himself an aerobatics pilot) recounts his research on airline crashes. As a result he declined to go on a scheduled flight because the plane was a DC-10. That very flight crashed, killing all aboard. Yikes - not a confidence booster. I also questioned my aboard flight reading selection, K2: The Savage Mountain...

Well, I did fly. I actually sat in the airport for half an hour before checking in - debating whether or not to go. The flight out was one of those bumpy, scary flights where the captain talks to you in a calm voice. Then, I spent an extra day in Omaha because of the Boston snowstorm on the day that I was supposed to fly back. (Kind of like spending an extra day in Cancun, but not quite).

I feel quite sure that this is the aftermath of the trauma. I feel nervous about other cars on the highway, knowing that a flimsy seatbelt won't keep me safe from a crash at highway speeds. I shudder to think about climbing the North Chimney to get up to the Diamond on Long's Peak. Interestingly, I don't feel very concerned about Boston's iced up sidewalks. Perhaps it feels more manageable when it's a hazard right in front of me that affords me a little control.

This is the work, learning to fly again. The good part - the clues to my recovery - are in the details. I was able to carry my luggage and to walk through the Detroit terminal. I noticed that I handled stairs much more easily than even a week before. Then, last week, I ran up a flight of stairs. (It was more of a galumph, really). I walked a mile twice in the last 10 days, and I rode the subway at rush hour!

After the trip to Nebraska, it was great to have my mom here for a week. She cooked a few meals and helped out whenever possible. She also downloaded nearly all of our music onto her new Mac! We had some walks and talks. Altogether it was a pretty low-key visit - not an easy feat when we put her up in the living room on a wafer thin futon mattress.

This is my life for now. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do when this is all said and done. However, I have the support of Melissa, my family and wonderful friends. I have fulfilling work at a local non-profit. I'm able to swim, bike and lift weights regularly. I have Pink Floyd playing on iTunes - all the ingredients needed for learning to fly again.


Bones said...

Nice Mark, running up stairs, self-sufficient luggage carrying, it all sounds like good progress man. But really, shouldn't you be listening to Tom Petty...I'm learning to fly, but I aint' got wings...


kat said...

Also applicable: Foo Fighters "learn to fly"