November 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm , by Nick Shell
I’ve been on so many plane rides in my life that now, anytime a pilot warns “we may experience some turbulence,” I remain unfazed; like in the opening scene of Garden State where Zach Braff’s character blankly stares ahead while everyone else panics.
However, two weeks ago on a flight from Nashville to Detroit to tour the General Motors headquarters, for the first time in my life I actually thought, “What if I die in this plane?” It’s not so much that the pilot faced some serious threat as he maneuvered the aircraft.
More likely, it was the fact that A) the last time I was on a plane was with my wife and son and B) I was overly aware of how if something bad did happen to me, I wouldn’t be able to share my life with them anymore. Therefore, the bumpiness of that hour-long flight had actually spooked me.
Even if it’s a slight cliche to say it (which it is), all my worries had disappeared while up in the air that day. I was able to just focus on what really mattered; not the thought of unpacked boxes in our townhouse, along with a living room ceiling that (at that time) still needed to be repaired.
As I made my way out of the baggage claim area, I looked up at saw a peculiar, yet appropriately serene sign that read: “Religious Reflections Room.” How random. I had to check it out.
The only way to get there was by taking the employee elevator up to the 3rd floor; keeping my GM chauffeur surely waiting at the terminal. I finally made it to the Religious Reflections Room. I slowly opened the door and saw a man bowing and praying over a compass painted on the floor pointing towards Mecca. Chairs lined the room in a horseshoe shape along the walls.
I figured if A) the Detroit airport saw the value in designing a Religious Reflections Room and B) I went through the trouble of finding it, that I should use it for its intended purpose.
So I sat down in the chair closest to the door and reflected religiously (for about 43 seconds) about how I didn’t die on the plane. Maybe it was a tad on the melodramatic side for me to keep thinking about being taken away from my wife and son, but I thanked God for my safe arrival anyway.
It was a pretty weird situation to have flown to a different region of the country without my family; like riding on an empty plane- or at least with dozens of cardboard cutouts instead of real people. Of course, it was just as bizarre to check into my hotel room in downtown Detroit without my wife and son; to try to legitimately fill the space of a king sized bed on my own, sprawling out like a kid making a snow angel.
How odd, to only be accountable to myself. Maybe above all, it simply felt unnatural.
I am no longer an island; I have a helper and a peripheral. Sure, it was nice to have a break from reality for 36 hours; but at least in my head, I sort of felt it was a lot like playing a dull lead character of a story where there is no plot. Sort of like The Hills.