A special shout-out to someone who in all realistic probability will never read this: terrified as I was of my impending departure, my ability to small-talk strangers remained intact. Soon I found myself chatting with a gentleman at the bar next to my gate, after he made a joke (long story short - the bartender carding me was apparently airport policy and not because I appear to be anywhere near 21 years old). Turns out we were both headed to the same destination.
I had met my Flight Angel.
Flight Angels are those who I occasionally meet on planes and help me get through the fear - they talk to me, ask me questions, sometimes they rub my arm or pat my hand. Anything to distract me and keep me calm, sane, and away from cardiac arrest. I once kept in touch with a Flight Angel for years after our meeting, until she passed away. No matter who they are, these lovely souls keep talking to me, humor my endless questions, chuckle at my nerves, and our brief connection makes me feel validated and safe.
In this instance, my Flight Angel turned out to be my Temporary Flight Husband...I should mention that immediately upon sitting down at the bar, I ordered my usual double tanq & tonic and took an Ativan. Then our flight was delayed, so back to the bar we went, and ordered another round.
This is probably what led to my mentioning that I was flying alone, and how this made me more afraid, and that I'll be sitting next to "some stranger", and knowing how nervous I was, Temporary Flight Husband suggested that I could sit next to him.
"How? I have to kick someone out of their seat?"
"Just say - 'Excuse me, but would it be okay if my husband and I sit together?' "
And that's exactly what I did.
Being a small plane, most everyone around us heard. So the pressure was on, for some unspoken but understood reason, to keep up the charade.
"Sorry, we booked separately, and I'm afraid to fly."
He rolled his eyes and sighed for affect. "Thank you, we appreciate it."
"Oh! You're going to have to take the window, Honey - you know I don't like the window seat."
Later, in response to something I said to the flight attendant, Flight Husband quipped "Ah, that's why I married you."
"Well we know it wasn't for the sex."
"That's right, because I'm impotent" (sits up to address the plane) "I'm...impotent."
It was all in good fun, and a nice distraction from the amazingly horrible turbulence that otherwise would have had me paralyzed and crying. Didn't hurt that he was okay on the eyes.
As I waited for my carry-on, Flight Husband walked past me and didn't stop. I called out to him. "I'm filing for divorce tomorrow!" He laughed. "Yeah - we're through!"
Thank you, Flight Angel. In 2 hours we were engaged, married, honeymooned, and divorced. Or fake legally separated anyway. Pretty sure that's a non-Vegas record. We laughed, I didn't cry, and I'm pretty sure you checked me out. Ego boost for me, nice scenery for you.