I remember the first time I ever boarded a plane.
I was eleven years old and was travelling to Verbier in Switzerland for a skiing holiday with my Mum’s side of the family.
I remember everything about that trip.
I remember going to London with my mum and getting lost on the way to the Passport Office.
I remember nervously waiting for my passport interview, a requirement, as it was my very first passport.
I remember the excitement I felt inside when my first-ever passport was handed to me and the nerves I had about losing it.
I remember my mum going around the same roundabout five times before realising she was lost on the way home.
I remember the way my mum and nan ensured I had the thickest purple coat you had ever seen because she was scared I’d get cold on my trip.
I remember the repeated flutter of my mum’s eyelashes as she blinked furiously to hide the tears she was so obviously trying to hold back as we waved goodbye.
I remember squeezing my Uncle Gavin’s hand during take-off because I was so nervous.
I remember the way my stomach flipped when we drove through Switzerland and the roads began climbing up the mountain.
I remember the way my eyes filled with awe as we got higher with every curvature of the road.
I remember the way the snow sounded as it crunched beneath my feet.
I remember feeling devastated that the hessian carpet in the chalet destroyed my Percy pig slippers.
But the memory that sits most visibly from this trip, is the first time I ever flew. It was the single most exhilarating thing I’d done at that point in my life.
As I sat in my seat on the plane my eleven-year-old mind raced with questions.
- “How does something so heavy lift off of the ground?”
- “What if we crash?”
- “Is my lap strap tight enough?”
- “What if they lose my luggage and I never see my Percy Pig slippers again?”
- “Why do my ears feel funny?”
I was lucky enough to be sat next to my uncle Gavin, who had the patience of a saint. He tossed me a hard-boiled sweet to suck on whilst he answered my questions and when the time came to take off he told me it was “just like a rollercoaster, but better because it doesn’t mess up your hair and the view is way better” and as we taxied along the runway, he saw how much I was shaking and reassuringly took my hand.
I don’t think I’d ever been more scared at that point in my life.
The teacups were the scariest “rollercoaster” that I had been on, so I had no point of reference for what I was about to experience.
The plane taxied along the runway, and when it reached the foot of the strip, the engines (and my fear) roared to life. I was sat on the window seat, and too nervous to look away.
I stared out the window at a nearby patch of grass, focusing on each individual blade wondering idly if that would be the last time I’d ever see grass because I was eleven years old and had never flown, so obviously my first thoughts were that the plane was going to crash and I was going to die.
But as the plane took off and the blades of grass transformed into a stream of green, I found myself enchanted by my changing surroundings.
Grains of grass was no longer visible, and the strips of grey concrete that were once beneath me had been replaced by a patchwork blanket of green, brown and yellow hues.
Roads manoeuvred through the colours creating the most intricate of patterns, that decreased in size with every foot the plane gained.
Puffs of white drifted past the window gaining in density with every second that passed, and before I knew it I was above the clouds looking down at a blanket of pillowy white.
The radio crackled on and the pilot announced that we were scary-thousand feet high, but I couldn’t care less, because as I stared out of the window at the billowing soft clouds below I realised how utterly peaceful I felt in that moment.
Thirteen years and four countries later and I still feel the same way. Especially now as I sit here typing these words. I’m sitting on a plane with zero room (godamn economy), London is no longer in sight but neither is anywhere else. Instead, when I look out of the window all I can see is a bed of pure white with the sun hovering above us, its rays reflecting off of the plane’s wings, illuminating the purity that sits beneath the plane.
Occasionally the clouds break and the palest of blues peeps through, matching the colour of the distant sky. And as I stare out of the window aimlessly it suddenly dawns on me why I love it so much up here.
You cannot destroy clouds.
You cannot build upon clouds.
They are simply there, hovering above you in your day-to-day life, occasionally pouring down on you
They just exist. Untouched by man. And I find it comforting that in a world where everything can change in a heartbeat, there will always be a place where everything remains the same.
Because the higher I fly, the smaller I feel and that feeling is bloody intoxicating.