So, I'm not the best flier around. It's by no means a phobia, or anything that severe, but I have to remind myself to breathe normally, that everything I'm feeling is normal. That sudden dip - planes do that sometimes. The wings are still there, we're still flying normally. I had a bit of a breakthrough landing at Melbourne last Friday though, one of those moments that's so absurdly ironic, that you can't do anything but laugh, even when you're gripping the hand rest, and your heart's beating more quickly than normal. After an event free flight, the plane's descending for landing. I've watched the flaps extending, felt the landing gear thump into position. All those strange noises that disconcert, while comforting you that everything's going to plan. I formulated a bit of a theory about fear of flying half way between Canberra and Melbourne. I think that when you're at 33,000 feet, and feeling things that you're not used to, you tend to act as though you're in a car. So when feeling a strange vibration, or thump, you think as though you're feeling that while driving, and most of these things would be a very bad thing to feel in a car. They're probably perfectly normal in an aircraft, but it's easier to link the unfamiliar to something you are familiar with, and tension ensues. But I digress... We're fairly low, it's not too far to the runway. The plane's obviously slowed down a great deal, the flaps fully extended, wings gaining as much lift as possible.
Then we start rocking.
A window seat overlooking the wing allows me to see everything that's going on. The ground on the right hand side of the aircraft coming into view, then disappearing, visible, gone. All the while, the ailerons lift, retract, lift, retract, as the pilot tries to get us back on a flat glide path. People in the cabin are starting to look at each other, this isn't exactly normal. I'm definitely getting edgy - my grip on the armrest's testament to that. A little earlier, I'd switched the audio channel from the news that had finished, to the music channel. At that moment, I notice the song coming through the headphones...
"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...."
I don't know what my neighbour, looking a little stressed himself, would have thought if he'd looked over at me, grinning like an idiot and shaking my head. It was just too perfect, and I knew that everything was going to be just fine.
Melbourne has a reputation as a depressing city, constantly raining. The truth of the matter is that Sydney has a higher annual rainfall, however Melbourne has more days of rain. I have an idea now of why it's called the dreary city by some people. I love the rain...I see a storm approaching, and anticipation rises in me. I wake to hear rain falling outside my window, and I actually find it easier to get up, I feel more motivated to rise, not wanting to miss a moment of the rainy day. It had been dry and sunny up until the time I got into Melbourne on Friday. Friday night, the rain started to fall, and left me unsatisfied, and tense. It was as though the clouds were struggling to break free, to really let the rain pound down. In small, drizzly amounts, the streets gradually got damper, gutters ever so slowly started to fill. It never quite got there though.
Rain for me is a cleansing force, it's as though the air itself is washed clean. Friday night, it felt as though the job was only half done. As I lay in bed in my hotel room, I listed to the wind howling, seven floors above the street. And I heard the rain against the window. It sounded like a stinging blast, like someone was flicking water from their hands. As I woke the next morning, I went to the window to see what the day brought. The streets were damp, but the rain had never increased, it was still spitting a little from a grey sky. Eventually that stopped altogether, and an uneasy balance lingered for the rest of the day. The release never came.