In honor of this year being a year of definite 'firsts' for me, I thought I'd do a 'firsts' series.
But allow me preface these tales with another small story: A couple years ago (almost 18 months to be exact) I was working in a job that made me supremely unhappy. You know the job. We've all had 'em, right? Low pay, low respect, maximum duties, and there were times where I was so damned uncomfortable with my job tasks (I can admit that now that I'm away from there). The morale at that place was crazy low, the management was just plain cray, and while our family still needed me to work, I was completely unhappy. On the positive side - there's always a silver lining - there were some good gals that I worked with and if nothing more, that job taught me exactly what I could handle: And that place weren't it.
Now, through a stroke of luck, I got the job I have now. I work for six pathologists at the University of Iowa Hospital and love my job 99.9% of the time. My faculty/bosses are AMAZING, kind, quirky, funny, lovely folks.
I had been there about six months or so when it was discovered through one of our conversations that I had never ever flown in a plane before.
Yeah, I know. How do these things happen, Hez? Why you no fly before?
Well, last time I checked, plane tickets cost moneys and the last thing on my list for extraneous expenses was flying somewhere. I also grew up in a household where flying just wasn't mentioned or something we did.
Ergo, no flying for Hez.
Now, onto present day....or at least the latter part of last year. One of my faculty's spouses flies planes as a hobby and they offerred to take me and any number of my family members up in this cute little four-seater plane. We even made plans but for some reason or other it got tabled till this year. It was brought up again in May or June and we settled on Sunday, July 1st.
Oh yeah, my birthday.
I also decided that I wasn't doing this alone. My 14-year-old son, Arik, was tagging along. Needless to say, like all teenage boys, he was STOKED.
Me? I was scared to death. But did I show it? I hope not.
My birthday dawned warm. It was the first of July in Iowa, after all. How could it NOT be warm? But it was a great day all around. I got homemade cards, ice cream cake, and had a nice relaxing day. Five-thirty finally rolled around and we - the boy and I - headed up to the Iowa City Airport.
Ms. Faculty greeted us there as her hubby was out inspecting the plane and we hung out in the tiny airport shooting the breeze. One whole wall of that room was windows, of course. We could see a smaller jet sitting on the tarmac. Mr. Pilot was sharing the room with us reading his newspaper. I'd glance at him now and again (hello? People watching, my all-time fave past-time) and he'd grin as Arik (aka The Boy) would make some comment about this being his first flight, too.
Did I mention that?
Well, yeah, it was The Boy's first time at bat with this whole flying shebang, too.
And then it was time.
My first thoughts, if memory serves, went along the lines of something like "Holy SH*T, that's a tiny plane!" and "OMG, I hope he has barf bags".
Really, no self-respecting Cancer would lose control like that, but it was a near thing on descent. But again, back to the first impressions. It was a cute plane. And we climbed in - me in the back with Ms. Faculty and Arik up front with Ms. Faculty's Spouse.
That would be the Boy pre-flight. He told me later that he had major butterflies but was also REALLY excited.
I absolutely adore this picture. It's Ms. Faculty's Spouse explaining how everything on the 'dash' of an airplane works. Arik, for once, is really intensely paying attention. And plus the silhouettes make me happy for some reason. I dunno. I'm weird like that. I'm also sure Mr. Freud has something to say about that but we'll delve into my psyche and neuroses another day.
And then we were off. We radioed the tower and let 'em know we were on the way and within minutes we were airborn. I kept looking at the treetops, and not the ground, as I didn't really want to hurf. All the while I could hear Ms. Faculty's Spouse and Arik chattering away in my headphones.
And then, then, then Ms. Faculty's Spouses voice came ringing through the fog that had developed in my brain: "Hey, Arik, you wanna fly the plane?"
My mommy mind screamed 'WOT?' Um, hell to the no.
But I figured if this guy knew how to fly a plane, he sure as heck take anything a novice kiddo could dish out. I could hear Arik's excited reply of yes. And then there was this:
Yup, sportsfans, that's my kid flying a plane. He did an amazing job and listened to everything Mr. Faculty said and I could hear the smile in his voice over the headphones.
Incidentally, when I told him later that as many times as his dad had flown in small, private planes he'd never once flown it himself. Arik fist pumped the air and I knew he was so beyond excited to have done something his dad had never done.
This is what happens when you're a boy and have a bad ass for a dad, I guess. LOL
Anyway, we flew over our town and got to see our house and all I kept thinking was that Iowa looks like a quaint quilt from the air.
And we got a gander at the Iowa River not far from our town, too:
One thing Arik and I both enjoyed was seeing people's yards and finding swimming pools that we would've had no way of knowing were there from the ground. We're simple folk. What can I say?
After seeing our house and our town, we turned around and headed back towards Iowa City. Arik drove most of the way back sans the landing. The descent was probably the only time that I felt nearly ill but I hung on and breathed deeply and then we were on the ground again, moving steadily down the runway. Once we got slowed down, Ms. Faculty's Spouse let Arik drive the plane back to the hangar which wasn't as easy as it sounds. He had to drive with foot pedals but my kid handled it like a PRO!
The boys went through the jillion point inspection as we hopped out (once the plane was stopped, of course) and Arik helped Ms. Faculty's Souse push the plane into the hangar.
We said our thank-yous and good-byes in front of the tiny airport.
The whole way home that kid of mine was ear-to-ear GRINS. It was an amazing experience to be able to share with him and I'm so very glad we did it and am so thankful to have people in my life who want to do things like that for us.
Yeah, pretty danged thankful.
To wrap this post up as it's gotten to be a little run-on, I'll say that it's a summer for 'firsts'....or a year maybe. Either way, I wouldn't be able to do these things without the people around me that support and love me in a way that allows me to step way outside of my comfort zone and do things that scare the bejeezus outta me.
Also, in closing, what have you guys done for the first time this past year? Share with me.
As a teaser for the next 'firsts' posts, I will tell you that they include a music festival by the name of 'Bonnaroo' and also taking my son to his very first concert in August (cannot. freaking. wait.).