The flight back to here and now.

22 May

I suppose, as flights go, it could have been worse. I tend to hate flying in general, especially across oceans. Obviously, my flight from Dulles, Virginia, to Frankfurt, Germany was across an ocean. That’s strike one.

When I got to the airport, more than two hours early of course, it was packed. I haven’t flown out of a big airport in way too long and, having become accustomed to the little lines of the Richmond airport, I was a little frustrated when it took me an hour and a half to get checked in and through security. It wasn’t that bad though. I had fun talking on the phone while waiting in those horrendous lines and even made some friends. Both the couple in front of me and the woman behind me asked where I was headed and I told them I was on my way back to Kosovo to finish up my deployment. They were very nice and supportive and thanked me for my service and made me smile. I never quite know what to say when people thank me, other than to thank them for the thank you.

By the time I got off the little strange bus thing to go to my terminal, which was, of course, over the hills and far away, and into the big crowd gathered by my gate, it should have almost been time for boarding. I was told my seat was unconfirmed, which pissed me off, but I checked in at my gate and they gave me a seat and I calmed down. By that point, however, the flight had already been delayed 15 minutes. I know that’s not bad, but still. I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get off the ground at all, based on the threat of thunderstorms and the steady rain pouring outside. So, I asked at the desk when they might start boarding and they didn’t know. So I went to smoke. I needed it.

After I came back from the smoking, the flight had been delayed another 15 minutes and announcements about boarding started, but they still never told us when we would board. So, by the time my flight was supposed to take off, I was still sitting at the gate waiting with a few other Soldiers heading back to Kosovo. Needless to say, I was a little stressed.

By the time they did start calling sections to board the plane, I was inching my way up closer and closer to the gate. That’s when creepiness set in. There was a group of about 30 foreign exchange students heading back to Europe also on our flight and one of the boys, from the Ukraine, starts smiling at me . He asked me if I was from Germany. I said no, I’m from Virginia. I was very short and very annoyed at this point, and didn’t even look at him when he talked to me. He then asked where I was going. I said, I’m going to Germany, then to Kosovo, because I’m in the army. I had hoped the army thing would scare him off a little bit, but no. He continues to stare with a creepy smile and then asks me how old I am. I look at him this time and say, 23. He then tells me I look very, very young. I forced a smile and said thank you. I attempted to inch forward and away from him, but he stuck pretty close. I’m just glad I didn’t sit next to him. I would have considered homicide if that had been the case.

After waiting forever, we finally get on the plane, about 15 minutes after our scheduled take-off time had passed.

By the time the plane started moving, we were informed by the captain that because we were about an hour late at that point, we would have to wait for the other good little planes that were on time to leave and land. So we waited. And waited. There was no air circulation in the plane at this point and all I could do in my little middle seat was be thankful that I didn’t have any issues with claustrophobia. We took off at about 1915, which was actually only two hours later than we were scheduled, it just felt longer due to the already-screaming children and the static air.

Then we hit turbulence for the first hour off and on. I freak out when there is turbulence. Luckily, I’ve flown so much in the past year that I’ve taught myself how to lean my head back and concentrate on my breathing and anything else that makes me feel far, far away from airports. So, lucky me, I didn’t puke, or cry, or freak out. I was pretty proud of myself as you can imagine.

Despite the late take-off, we actually got there in good time. We were only about 40 minutes late arriving at Frankfurt, despite the two hour delay.

From Frankfurt I went on to get more shitty sleep, and now, after being back for almost four full days, I’m slowly recovering and my sleep schedule is finally starting to work out. I still feel like I’m constantly tired, but I think I’m less tired today than I was yesterday.

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