“Descending Through Weather” (Chapter One)

The view from the window of seat 27F is like trying to look through a snow globe after you’ve shaken it so hard the artificial white flakes don’t know which way is down.

“Restless” is the word that comes to mind.

Is it safe to land a plane in a snowstorm?

I stroke my fingertip against the screen of my phone, leaving behind a sweaty streak of mysterious residue.

Is it normal for fingertips to sweat?

My heart pounds in anticipation of our landing. In the battle between solid ground and thirty thousand feet in the sky, solid ground wins every time. Hands down.

We’ve been circling for almost forty-five minutes, waiting for our turn on the one plowed runway.

I glance around to make sure no one is looking, unlock the screen of my phone, and swipe the little green Airplane Mode toggle to Off.

My phone searches for a signal. I silently will it to connect. But it won’t. We’re not close enough to humanity yet.

I toggle the switch back to On.

The flight attendants were all asked to take their seats fifteen minutes ago. “We’re expecting a little turbulence as we descend through some weather in Denver,” the pilot said.

Why do they call it “weather”? Why not use a less innocuous word? A more accurate word? “We’re expecting you to be bounced around like the last few Tic Tacs in the box while we descend through this shitstorm that we probably shouldn’t be flying through to begin with.”

“Weather” could mean anything. It could mean sunshine and fucking rainbows. It could mean warm rain and cool breezes. But they never use it to describe anything good, do they? When it comes to the airline industry, “weather” is unequivocally bad.

Maybe that’s how I should start referring to my life.

As in, “Don’t worry about Ryn. She’s just descending through some weather. It’ll be choppy for a bit.”

At least then it implies transience. Weather always changes. It eventually morphs into something else. It never stays for long.

It sure as hell beats the term supplied by the therapist my mother has been making me see for the past ten months. “Survivor’s Guilt.”

There’s nothing short-term about that.

I will always be a survivor. I will always be the girl who didn’t get in the car that day. That will be my identity until the day I die.

After that, no one can call me a survivor anymore.