Thursday, February 11, 2010

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Let me tell you a little about what it was like to travel at 315 lbs.  (It would also help to note I am a teeny bit crazy, so all of this might not apply to everyone).

Before I'd even arrive at the airport, I was super paranoid about making sure that I had a seat assignment.  I'd pay extra to map it out ahead of time and get a window seat.  Most of the time, I traveled with my sister Annie and since she's a skinny minnie who I knew wouldn't complain about me taking up part of her seat, I'd stick her in the middle.  A few times she booked us on Southwest, which has no assigned seats, and it would make me so anxious it was ridiculous.  The idea of a stranger being pissed at me for taking up too much room was bad, but the chance of having TWO strangers silently seething and passive-aggressively elbowing me in the gut was just too much to bear.

At the airport, I'd make sure not to eat anything in public.  I figured that people were already disgusted with me for trying to fly at the weight I was at, plus my stomach would always be in knots, worried that I wouldn't be able to buckle my seat belt.  I'd wait in line to board the plane and would worry that the gate attendant would take me aside and make me buy another seat.  Then, on the plane, I'd imagine that every person I passed breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't have to sit next to The Blob.  I'd sit down, suck in my stomach and somehow violate the laws of physics and force the seat belt closed.  My sides would ooze over the divider into the seat next to me and I was cramped, nervous and exhausted for the entire trip.

All in all, none of this was a very good start to a vacation, and I feel like turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn't want to put myself through this.  I really regret this quite a bit.

I just got back from visiting a friend in Maine for a few days.  If you're looking for a place to go to escape the harsh Chicago winter, let me recommend flying for two hours and getting out in a place that's even colder.  Logic always wins out with me.  Always.  I need to make some friends in warmer climates, perhaps Hawaii.

It hit me on this trip that I still have the same travel anxiety.  I still fret that people will hate sitting next to me and I still feel like a lumbering ox.  When I buckle my seat belt now, I have four or five inches of slack to take out of the belt, but I still worry EVERY SINGLE TIME that it won't buckle and somehow TSA will ask me to leave the plane as a safety hazard.  I can put the tray table down without it resting on my gut, something that was also impossible before, but I still think that I'll unlatch it, start to bring it down, realize it won't fit and feel humiliated when I have to put it back up, hoping no one noticed.  My brain, it does not see reality most of the time.

On the flight to Maine, I sat next to a law enforcement officer who was going to Portland to bring a prisoner back to his state.  Right away, after I sat down, he commented that the flight didn't look full and maybe he could move.  My stomach churned as I imagined he was judging me.  Well, I read this situation wrong because in the next two hours, this INCREDIBLY charming fellow told me his life story, repeatedly assured me I was beautiful inside and out, told me he had handcuffs if I had been a bad "girl" who needed correction and then two or three times hinted around that he'd like to have sex with me in the plane bathroom (romantic!)  It was without a doubt the most uncomfortable plane ride I ever took, even the ones when I was at my heaviest.

Being fat certainly isn't the only way you can feel trapped in a teeny airline seat!


  1. Plane rides are the craziest thing in the world, people think it is ok to say anything in a very small place that you can't get out of for at least an hour!

  2. Jess, yes they do! I seem to have a tattoo on my forehead that only crazy people can see that says, "Please, tell me everything" because this stuff tends to happen to me a lot.

  3. Plane rides are the craziest thing in the world, people think it is ok to say anything in a very small place that you can't get out of for at least an hour!