UFO: Unexplainable Flying Oddity

March 14th, 2008

I remember going through security. I remember stowing my carry-on in the bin above seat 18A. I remember the empty seat next to me that stayed that way as they closed the cabin door and swept down the aisles checking that all bins above the seats were secure. I put my seat in the upright position and made sure my seat belt was fastened.

And that’s the last thing I remember. I have no recollection at all of flight 37 from Amsterdam to Logan leaving the earth behind as the big Northwest jet lifted from runway whatever and headed for the East Coast of the United States. I don’t remember drink carts or dinner carts or the distribution of customs declarations cards. I just remember holding that clicker thing in my hand that operates the map page where the passenger can track the progress of the plane all the way to Boston. I woke under an image of Greenland, the contrails of the digital plane a bright orange. In my lap, a flight attendant had placed a blue and white customs declaration card.

I’d taken no medication or ingested any mind altering substances. I wasn’t tired though I wished I could sleep. I’d eaten a delicious breakfast of eggs, fruit, and warm croissants. I’d said goodbye to all my friends at the Rokery and towed my wheeled carry on and backpack with me to Central Station. I’d purchased a round trip ticket to Schiphol. Minutes after the train pulled out from the station, a matron came through the car to check and to stamp our tickets. In 17 years of traveling back and forth to Amsterdam I’ve never been asked for proof I’d purchased a ticket, though I always do. The Dutch allow me freedoms available nowhere else on earth. In return, I offer my respect for those freedoms and the wonderful ability to enjoy them.

But what happened to me just before the plane revved the engines and raced down the runway? I wasn’t asleep. I can’t sleep with my seat in the upright position. The empty space in my memory is just that. Empty. No nothing. No images, no glancing out the window, no high speed head rush. All gone…if it was ever there at all.

Morbidly, I can imagine that the plane never lifted from the runway or exploded or lost power and crashed and that in truth I may be dead in that reality but somehow alive in this one. I’ve never experienced this ever before in my life. I’ve never had such a naked gap in memory that should be there but isn’t. I love to travel by air. I enjoy every second of it. Especially the takeoff.

But where did it go? The closest experience I’ve had similar to this one is when surgeons use Verset to anesthetize patients. You go someplace where you’re not completely gone and then you come back unable to remember the previous moment.

This incident bothers me and it bothers my therapist. My psychiatrist was curiously amused.

Something happened inside of me. Or did it? Does everyone else who was on that flight have the same story to tell? That they too have no recollection of rolling down the runway and into the air?

I’ll never know. But I’ll never forget what is obviously not there.


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