photo by Jacob Slaton
Do you remember the first time you ever flew on an airplane?
When you first felt the now everyday miracle of accelerating down the runway and then the nose of the aircraft lifting up into the air?
Just like that. All of a sudden, you are flying. Houses below you become smaller and smaller, until they look like toys and then like ants on the ground. Soon they disappear altogether below the clouds.
Puffy white pillows of condensation outside your window seat.
Honestly, it still amazes me when I fly. I am like a little kid waiting for that second that the wheels lift off the ground.
The first flight I can remember being on was from Little Rock to Boston. I was four years old. I held my Grandmother’s hand during takeoff, watching out the window and anticipating a journey. She and I were heading to Mystic, Connecticut for her niece’s wedding, and I was to be the flower girl.
I am certain now that my role in the wedding party was entirely contrived by my Grandmother. She had a way of arranging events and occasions into ways of relieving my mother and aunt of one of their children for a spell. Grandmother took every one of her nine grandchildren on trips of our own.
Though I was super excited about going on a trip with my grandmother, as a flower girl, I was somewhat unruly. I fought my grandmother about curling my hair in sponge rollers the night before the wedding until she was in tears. It was already late, after a long rehearsal dinner and my grandmother’s dear friend, Helen, was also at the hotel when she was trying to get my hair curled and me settled into bed.
Now, Alison, you need to settle down and go to sleep because I have not seen Aunt Helen in a long time and I want to visit with her.
My grandmother might have regretted bringing me along when I replied,
I have not seen Aunt Helen in a long time either, and I want to visit with her too!
I then proceeded to talk both of their ears off until late into the night. They both laughed about it, but the next day I was a complete pill to deal with at the wedding. In fact, I am not even in all the wedding party pictures because I was nowhere to be found.
I was aghast when I was handed my basket filled with a bouquet instead of petals to throw. I felt I had been cheated when I realized I was to walk down the aisle without being able to throw anything on the ground.
At the dinner reception following the wedding, Grandmother was worn out from keeping up with me and trying to make me behave. She let me out of her sight long enough for me to consume two glasses of champagne, after which I danced with the ring bearer, the father of the bride and the groom himself before passing out on a chair next to her. She was sitting at a table visiting with Aunt Helen.
I imagine my grandmother to have been slightly horrified when she explained to my parents that I had managed to get drunk on her watch, but we laughed for years about it.
She always said she was glad she had brought the life of the party to the wedding, and I was always ready to hop another plane with her to anywhere she was headed, even more so if champagne was on the menu.