The year was 1990. Outside, the weather was warm and pleasant, just the way it should be at the beginning of May.
We piled into the car and headed over to the airport. We sang songs the entire time, I think as a means of energy release so that we wouldn't drive my poor mom crazy. At McDonald's, I purchased a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, but was simply unable to eat a bite.
We got to the lots, my mom had practiced finding the US Air Terminal a couple of days ago so that it wouldn't be so difficult for us on this morning. Starting to tear up a little, she brought us just inside of the doors and left us with the adult chaperones who would be accompanying us on our journey. "I'm gonna pray from the time you take off until you land" she said, then she turned and left.
Once inside, we were paired off with different airport volunteers. There were six of us in all and every one of us was blind, in fact the whole purpose of this trip was to go and compete in something called the Braille Institute Olympics.
"So, you're going to Mexico?" my helper asked, sounding quite serious. "No, I'm supposed to go to Los Angeles" I replied. "Oh yeah? Well I've been told to put you on a plane to Mexico." Nearly starting to cry, I tried to get away from this madman, but he just started laughing and guided me forward. Why are adults so cruel to kids sometimes?
I remember the thrill of anticipation as I sat in that huge machine, seatbelt tight on my waiste, wondering what it would feel like to race off into the sky. I was alarmed though when they started reading off all the emergency preparation stuff because no one had told me to be expecting this. "Use my seat cushion as a flotation device?" I thought. "I didn't know we would be landing in the water!"
Finally, we got ready to takeoff. To this day, I don't think there are many feelings like it for some reason. All that power, yet a sense of freeing oneself from the ground at the same time. Then I was even more amazed when we hit cruising altitude and the feeling of motion almost ceased. "Are we still moving?" I asked the lady sitting next to me. "Yes, very fast in fact."
I got even more laughs because someone had told me that I would have to pay the flight attendant when he served my food. In the way that only a habitually broke person could understand, I tried to give him my little $2. "Nah, keep that man" he said as I tore into my cheese crapes (what the heck are those!)
I could go on and on about that flight, it really made me excited about travel even to this day. I know which movie they showed "Steel Magnolias", and what we ate just before landing at LAX, some kind of weird tasting circular ice cream sandwiches.
Airline travel is no longer as romantic or comfortable as it was even in the early 1990's, see headlines of planes parked on the tarmac for hours. But the joy that I experienced on that day has not yet diminished for me. Check back with me in a few years, and we'll see how much that has changed.