Tag Archives: flight

Extended

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A couple of weekends ago I had to fly to Brisbane. It was for a 90th birthday, a beautiful gentleman who, when asked what it felt like to be 90, replied with, “Up the shit!”.

The last time I flew was around two years ago. That flight, I was heading to Melbourne. I remember the angst on the lead up to the flight.

I knew without a doubt that I would need a seat belt extension. Some people don’t even know what they are, or even that they exist. You know the seat belt they use in the safety briefing before you take off? Well that can click into both ends of the standard seat belt on a flight, thus extending the length of the belt so that every passenger can be safe. I rang the airline to get the seat measurements. I wanted to be sure that my sizeable bottom would fit. I contemplated booking two seats, so that my overflow wouldn’t affect the person sitting in the same row as me.

Because that’s one of the things I used to worry about, that my too-bigness would infringe upon other people. That taking up too much space would inconvenience the people around me. That I should do whatever I could to make amends for being the size I was.

That I should wear a sign, apologising for myself.

For me, my weight was a shame that I wore on the outside for the world to see. I took on the stares and the comments. I absorbed the giggles from children in the street. I carried every single one of the observations about my size and even though they were pointy and hot and uncomfortable, I carried them close to myself until they became myself and there I was, a walking ball of shame and grief and sadness and disappointment.

For me, my size mattered, 100%. And a lot of my time was spent trying to minimise it. I’d sit hunched and curled into a ball. I’d move with a nimbleness that belied my size when I felt like I was in someone’s way. I’d stand rather than sit, lest I break a chair or block an aisle.

Now, I still stand. But it’s more about not wanting to sit still. And now, when I do sit, I tend to sprawl in a most unladylike manner. Because screw being a lady.

When I booked the flights to Brisbane, that little voice made me wonder. Would I still need a seat belt extension? I’ve tried and tried again to explain how hard it is for your brain to catch up when your body changes. I knew that in losing over 50kg, the chances of me needing that extension were pretty slim. But what if. What if I hadn’t really changed my body shape that much? What if that apron of skin was going to be still too big for the standard seat belt?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

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And it also turns out that the tray coming down is a thing. The tray never used to come down. Not even close.

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No worries.

These are the victories that, for the run of the mill person, seem a little odd. If you don’t even realise that a seat belt extension is a thing, then what’s to celebrate if a normal aeroplane seat belt fits you?

Here’s what’s to celebrate:

I didn’t have to walk sideways up the aisle. I didn’t have to whisper that I needed an extension when I boarded, and hold it close to my body as I took my seat so that nobody would notice. I didn’t have to tuck it down the side of my seat when I got off the plane, trying to hide the shame I felt. I didn’t have to pre-book a specific seat at the window, so I could at least spread in one direction in an attempt to minimise the impact I had on the person sitting next to me.

You might think I am being too hard on myself. You might think that most people wouldn’t care.

If that’s the case then thank you, you’re a human with a beautiful heart.

But the reality is that a lot of people are not like that, particularly with strangers.

I’ve discovered that as a whole, society still believes that fat is something that people choose and therefore something they can quickly change. And as a result we have created what seem to be quick fixes for this problem. I’ve always been very careful to state clearly that for me, what was going to work was earning every single gram lost through sheer hard determination, through pushing my body, through walking and running and riding endless kilometres and lifting and pushing and pulling different weights. I had to respect what I had done in order to maintain the weight loss. For me, and I can only speak for myself, that’s what I had to do. Not everyone’s solution looks like that. But I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself.

As the seat belt clicked shut, and I tightened the strap, it sounded like victory.

But in my victory, as in any victory, I remembered the battles lost in winning the war.

So to the me in the plane. Taking up space. Wearing an extension. Desperate for the flight to end:

I’d rather you were safe with the extension on. You have an equal right to be on board this flight. Where are you going? Are you excited? Who are you seeing? Don’t let this moment rob you of your joy regarding travel. You go, you get there, you have an absolute blast. Because regardless of your size, you matter. Your heart is ticking, your soul is full and your smile lights a room.

Extensively.

 

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The bland traveller

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I’m not going to even try to convince you that I travel well. I am not portable, I struggle to remember that clothes can be washed, and I don’t trust public toilets. Because of this, I confess to being the very opposite of a seasoned traveller.

Allow me to introduce you to the bland traveller:

Me.

I am the bland traveler. I am not seasoned. I find car trips exciting, even when the destination is the garage. So to jump on a train for three hours, then a plane for five, then a car for two more – holy crap. I am sure to be a pro by the return trip. A pro, but probably not seasoned.

I had some dramas on the way to my destination. I think the fact that I am seeing them as issues only serves to prove my blandness as a traveller. See what you think:

1. Somewhere between zipping it up and putting it on the scales at the hospital, my case had gained three kilograms. I’m assuming it had raided vending machines when I changed to the Airport line. This is the only reasonable explanation, because the bits I had forgotten and jammed in at the last minutes surely didn’t weigh enough to put me slightly over my baggage limit.

2. Sharing. I don’t like to share with strangers. I don’t want someone to sit next to me. What if they have a smell? I discovered that shoving my case in the leg area of the seat next to me proved enough of a deterrent to put most people off. Talking to my suitcase convinced the stubborn few that looked like they might attempt to ask me to move.

3. Impulse yelling isn’t generally smiled upon. My beloved and I play a game called Windmill. The rules are simple. When you see a windmill you yell out WINDMILL! It,s pretty easy, but exceptionally competitive. Sadly, unfortunately, terribly… I spotted a windmill out the window on the train. Enough said.

4. There was a toilet on the train. A toilet! Who can’t hold a wee for a few hours? What has happened to humanity that we can’t just hold it anymore? Why are there always men pissing on the sides of the road? OK that’s an aside, but it’s true. Sometimes driving on the freeway, the amount of males peeing on the side of the road – it’s like the apocalypse.

5. I didn’t use the toilet on the train, but by the time I got to the airport I was busting. Floating back teeth and everything. I checked my case and found a toilet. Here is the scary bit. The toilet flushed all by itself. I could have been sent through to Sydney Harbour at a million kilometers an hour. I could have been injured. I could have gotten a very wet bottom. I could have experienced a non-consensual colonic irrigation massage!

6. Is it any wonder, therefore, that I was too scared to wee on the plan? What if it flushed while I was sitting there and my bum was sucked out the exit hole? What if my arse ended up performing a nationwide brown eye? What I ended up with a massive hickey on my butt from the suction? And even worse… What if I wound up with a prolapse?

7. Boredom. I got bored very early in the trip, which resulted in all of the above thought processes.

So, friends, suffice it to say I am not a seasoned traveller. I enjoy mischief too much to be in a confined space for an extended amount of time. Maybe it’s just not for me. Which I reminds me of something.

My beloved often recommends long distance train driving as a potential career option for lots of different people. Her daughter, her best mate, her ex husband – lots of different people… But not me. Never me.

I think there’s a certain wisdom in that.