I am highly, highly, claustrophobic.
After nearly 20 years of practice I can hide it rather effortlessly, but inside I’m dipping into full-fledged panic. I’m this weird sort of hybrid mix of “don’t touch me” and “let’s hold hands forever.” I love being close to the people I love, and I’m beyond affectionate. In terms of strangers, the affection breaks to complete distain. Don’t touch me. Don’t get in my little bubble of space that I have so carefully and cautiously crafted around myself.
On Tuesday after class I braved the airport. It was my first time returning home since July, so I was absolutely itching/longing/pining for my sweet family and cute little beach town.
Long story short, two seemingly bearable flights turned into a massive 10-hour escapade. Everything that could go wrong did (other than complete tragedy, right?), as often happens with airports. I “stepped out of bounds” in the San Francisco airport searching in vain for the shuttle that my pilot had flippantly mentioned. Stressed out and frazzled, I asked for directions from a rude security guard. He then forced me to exit the airport completely and re-enter, once again braving the nauseating security lines even though I had just hopped off of one plane and was looking for my connecting flight. “This kind of thing happens to other people, not me,” I immediately thought while half-crying and practically vibrating with anxiety. I was longing for home. Eventually I made it into the airport once more and managed to track down my gate and shuttle, but was slapped hard in the face with a two-hour delay—the second delay of the night. I was absolutely begging God to carry me home safely.
After feeling trapped in two giant, security-line-rimmed, travel-sized-bottles-only airports, I finally boarded my second flight. I adore my little beach town, but arriving is always a challenge (last year I was stuck in Arizona alone overnight when I missed a connecting flight due to weather—that was fun). We have a little fingernail of an airport, and thus the only jets flying in and out are practically children’s toys. As soon as the tiny piece of Wright-based ingenuity took off into the sky, I was panic-stricken. The claustrophobic cabin, turbulence and horrible guy sitting across from me (who attempted passing flirty notes with me during the flight... see below) had me praying fervently for my own safety.
“Please, please, please, please keep me safe,” I would repeat. I’m in this habit of repeating my prayers over and over and over again, especially when there is a sense of urgency to them. “Keep me safe, keep me safe, keep me safe,” I pleaded as the turbulence tossed the plane vehemently through ink black skies. My knuckles were white. My heart was racing. Completely morbid thoughts were skipping through the caverns of my mind.
“My child,” He said, “I heard you the first time.”
It came from nowhere. In the midst of the ratting plane and deafening engine, I heard Him so clearly that I was almost afraid. I have had some pretty radical God-moments in my lifetime, but this was the clearest. The noise was just gone. It was Him and me. All the way home we talked. He comforted me, always calling me His child, daughter, and little one. I love when He does that. I had this out-of-this-world sense that the little jet was resting in the palm of His hand as He carefully guided us home safely.