It started on the Annapurna Circuit. The day before we walked through Jomsom, the capital of Nepal’s Mustang District yet a town so small it looks like the set of a wild-west movie, one of Jomsom’s daily flights overshot the runway and crashed into the river. We walked right over the wreckage on a suspension bridge, the tail of the plane sticking out of the water like a hitchhikers thumb.
In the book I am reading I learn that Hillary, the first man to summit Everest, had a wife and daughter that were killed in a Nepali airplane crash.
“Brian,” I whisper as we lay in bed that night, “I don’t think we should be flying. I keep receiving signs. First there was the crash in Jomsom, now I learn about Hillary’s family. It’s like everywhere I turn there is another plane crash. I think the universe is trying to tell me something.”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?”
“Good night,” Brian says rather bluntly before turning his back to me.
Yeah, enjoy it, I think to myself. We’ve only got three more left.
In the morning the signs continue.
On CNN, which only reports the world’s most important and relevant news, I read that a cargo plane has crashed in Afghanistan.
And then I remember that just a month ago a plane crashed while landing on Bali. We’re going to Bali.
It is the day before our flight and my anxiety has reached a fevered pitch. I call my parents on Skype but it rings and kicks to voicemail. That’s so sad, I think, I don’t even get to say goodbye.
And then, despite my insider knowledge, I find myself standing in the waiting lounge of the Kathmandu airport, ready to board our flight to Indonesia. “Like cows off to slaughter,” I say to Brian as the unsuspecting passengers walk down the jetway smiling. “They don’t have a clue what’s coming.”
Kathmandu airport. Ignorance is bliss.
“Kim, PLEASE. For Chrissake,” says Brian, he’s practically screaming. “Shut up about it. Do you want to will it to happen?”
And because I am an ardent believer that thoughts become things, I shut my trap.
Our takeoff is successful but soon after the co-pilot comes on over the intercom: “The pilot has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. Please take your seats, we are approaching dangerous weather.”
I sit bolt upright. As you may have surmised, my seatbelt is already fastened.
“DANGEROUS WEATHER,” I hiss at Brian. “DANGEROUS? Why would he use that word? Why not say rough air or a patch of turbulence? WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?”
“We’re fine,” says Brian, emphasizing ‘fine’ in a way that suggests there will be no further discussion. Because after almost six years of marriage Brian has learned that responding to my panicking just makes me panic more. When he ignores me it pisses me off, but at least it puts my mind on something else.
I sit in my seat, row 13 (13!!)* seat B, on the left side of the plane, which, now that I think about it (another sign!), I’d recently overheard is the side you don’t want to be on in the event of a plane crash.** I grip the armrest and wait for our plane to begin it’s fiery spiral from the sky. How long will it take before we hit the earth?
Some hours later, the wheels touch down on the tarmac. It’s a smooth landing, as far as those things go.
“We’re alive,” I whisper to Brian. I have his hand in a white-knunckled grip. I let it go and he shakes the blood back into it.
“Well whaddaya know.”
I punch him in the arm.
“It could have happened,” I proclaim. “You didn’t listen to me! What if I’d been right?”
Brian grabs his bag from the overhead compartment and marches down the aisle without a word.
I follow after him, happily making my way towards the exit and the bright light of day.
And that is how I know I’m not clairvoyant.
* Brian claims that we were not in row 13. He even went so far as to say, “There wasn’t a row 13, remember?” Regardless, my memory, which generally cannot be trusted, places us in row 13.
** It is my personal belief that you’re pretty screwed in the event of a plane crash no matter which side of the plane you are sitting on.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press
“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com
“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail