The first time I flew was in 1989 when I was 10 years old. My dad had been awarded a literary prize for one of his books and together with my oldest younger brother, we flew from Malmö to Stockholm where dad was due to accept the prize from Ingvar Carlsson, the then prime minister of Sweden.
I’m not entirely sure why I found that first flight so scary, but I did. I cried and cried and all I wanted was to get off, which I managed to do, but not until we’d reached Stockholm. The next time I flew after that was in 1996. I’d just turned 17 and was on my way, alone, to Augusta, Georgia where I was going to spend the summer with a family that I’d never met. It was a long trip via Atlanta where the summer Olympics was about to begin a few weeks later, but what a trip. That’s the trip that made me fall in love with airports and flying.
I remember being somewhere over Greenland, looking out of the plane window and seeing snow as far as the eye could see. Later as we flew in over the US it was mountains, cities, large forests and agricultural land. It amazed me to see the world from above, to watch the clouds and the sun that always shines up there. Being on my own without knowing what to expect filled me with excitement and a sense that anything was possible. I felt free, happy and in my right element. My adventure had begun and I was on my way to explore and conquer this world.
To this day I still get that sense of adventure and excitement every time I set foot in an airport and on a plane. There is something magical about it that fills me with hope, inspiration and that feeling of the world being my oyster. And it appears it doesn’t change, even if I fly regularly.
At the time of writing this it’s Tuesday morning the 21st of January 2014 and I’m sat on a plane about to start the descent into Schipol airport. Since late November last year I’ve been commuting weekly between London and Amsterdam and though the early starts for the first flight out can be hard, being away from D, my friends and the spotty one isn’t always easy, it beats jumping on the tube every day.
The tube for me is a just a mode of transportation, getting from A to B. It stresses me, makes me feel trapped and at times fall out of love with London. Planes and airports on the other hand feel like secret vessels sending me off on adventures. Amongst all the suits on this plane – the majority being men – I feel different and like that 17 year old girl again who is on her way to explore the world. Despite knowing exactly what awaits me when I set foot in Amsterdam, and almost being the same as the suits – on my way to work and later a hotel that no matter how comfortable will never be as good as being at home – getting on a plane means going on an adventure. I love that. I’m on travelling foot, conquering new grounds, and through that the world never stops being my oyster.
Image source: Stormy clouds via Shutterstuck