I would like to introduce you to my daughter Beatrice in this blog. She was asked to write a memoir for her Grade 11 English class and this is what she shared with her teacher (who also happens to be her mom). Please enjoy as I did.
I was highly anxious, as I had predicted, the day we flew out to Calgary. It was my first time on a plane. It was early August, and I was fifteen years old. Not the normal age for a girl with relatives on the other side of the country to ride a plane for the first time. On the drive to the airport I listened to Jessica Andrews “Who I Am” and my Michael Jackson playlist to try and boost my confidence. I was wearing pyjamas and my navy housecoat that made me feel like Captain Jack Harkness, one of my favorite characters from my favorite TV show, Torchwood.
My mother wanted to park in section G for ‘Gauthier’, but there were no spots free. I said we should park in section F, because that was exactly how I felt. We had arrived way too early in my opinion so we sat and waited for our plane to board for two hours. I had a sour cream glazed doughnut for lunch, though I didn’t really feel like eating. I remember looking in the mirror in the airport bathroom and thinking about how pale and sick I looked. While we waited I read a book to keep my mind occupied, Torchwood novel #4, Something in the Water. That helped a little.
When we finally boarded the plane, I could feel my legs trembling. I was so scared, but I tried to put on a brave face. Tried to make myself feel excited about this. I remembered what my father had said years ago: “the adventure of a lifetime! You don’t want to miss it!” But he had died that spring of a heart attack, so there were no encouraging words now. But I knew I had to do this. For him. To show him I could do this. I smiled at the flight attendants and the pilot in their white and navy uniforms as we boarded, taking in their polite confidence. They seemed so sure that nothing could go wrong. How did they do that? We were seated near the back of the plane, and I was right next to the window. I looked out at the wing of the plane and tried not to think about how flimsy it seemed to be. Then I looked at the articles stuffed in the seat in front of me. Routines in case of disaster. Fire. Crash-landing. What to do if we had to make an emergency landing in water.
“Better not look at that.” My mother said. She was right. I started listening to a Torchwood audio drama called Believe.
I was sure the soothing voices of Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman, the actors who played my two favorite characters, would get me through this. I remember the feeling I got when the plane lifted off. I felt my stomach drop and my head spin and I might have uttered a curse, signing the cross against my chest. Then I remember a feeling of elation.
I thought, and then I had to fight not to cry. I didn’t wanna cause an emotional scene in front of all these people who would probably smile in sympathy while thinking “she’s crazy” over and over. So much for that. Two hours into a five-hour flight, I threw up my sour cream glazed doughnut into three separate barf bags. After that I tried to go to sleep, but I mostly just lay awake and hoped to either die or for the plane to teleport to Calgary really quick so I could just get this hell-hole of a state of existence over with. Three hours later we landed, and even though I was tired, I couldn’t help but feel a thrill. The family in the row on the other side of the aisle had kindly donated their barf bags when I had thrown up and now their kids were staring at me like they wanted to say “haven’t you ever been on a plane before?” We met my Aunt Monique and Uncle Todd in the airport, picked up our luggage, and drove to their house. My watch said it was midnight, but here it was more like nine. I’ll always remember what my aunt said to me as we left the airport:
“You haven’t lived until you’ve filled one of the little white bags!”
“I’ve lived three times over, then.” I replied. And that was the summer I touched the sky.