As I did so, I realized that I had become friends with half of the people in my grade. In opening up, I found that the world was not nearly as scary or dreadful as I had feared; instead, it was full of warmth and positive energy. Now, though, I am vice president of the Chinese Culture Club, a top student, and a confident friend to many. Looking back, I still remember the innocent and quiet boy who arrived in this country, afraid of even trying to talk.
How far that boy has grown; now, I am a man who loves greeting others: Passengers dozed peacefully in the cramped, cold, and dark cabin, eye masks on. A sudden jolt, riveting the plane, spurred only a few grumbling snorts from the unconscious travelers. The engines droned while chatty flight attendants gossiped behind a curtain. Everyone seemed at ease, if not bored. Passengers stared blankly at the monitors in front of them and stewardesses sighed when summoned by blinking lights bearing their caricatured silhouettes.
I imagined pilots, surrounded by panels of crude switches, nodding off in the wake of the vast and empty frontier ahead of them. I, however, found the flight neither boring nor exciting; as a twelve-year-old, everything about air travel terrified me. My white-knuckled fists, glistening with cold perspiration, clamped onto the nearest armrest at the mere hint of turbulence. I bawled during takeoff, clenched my eyes shut while landing, and remained fidgety and sour in the intervening hours.
This phobia began affecting me long before my actual departure, days or sometimes even weeks in advance. At first I would lie awake into the wee hours of the night, actively calling forth violent fantasies of what could very well happen during the coming flight. My first vision would be of a quick death: I considered this possibility most preferable, as I would not have to endure the torturous moments of panicky contemplation that would accompany falling to my death.
What if the plane did not simply explode, though? What if a wing dropped off at 30, feet? My fantasies would delve into every conceivable disaster, each less plausible yet more terrifying than the previous. Just how carefully did they inspect the engines?
In fact, my mind would be so consumed by thoughts of my impending demise on the flight that the prospect of survival would was begin to seem improbable, despite my continued existence flight after flight.
On this particular trip, though, my fears were nearly realized. After settling into my seat as much as I was capable after takeoff, my gaze flickered out the window, coming to rest on the billowy plains below.
My father joined me and began naming the illuminated grid patterns and landmasses gliding by beneath us when he noticed something I had not: I tried not to look or listen as the pilot arrived at my seat to observe the phenomenon. He craned his neck in what seemed a scrupulous observation and, after a few moments of squinting, delivered his analysis. My father and I leaned forward, expecting more explanation or at least some tangible emotion. The pilot, however, returned to the cockpit without answer, apparently realizing that we would not be able to comprehend, much less do anything about the information he had just gathered.
No doubt this would delay our arrival. At this announcement, two passengers had seizures and a jittery man seated behind me had to be handcuffed. A decade after the Great Recession, the U. The top-paying jobs tend to cluster in two industries -- and may prove less vulnerable automation. Share Tweet Reddit Flipboard Email. Last Updated Jun 15, A bland admission essay can put an overworked college rep to sleep.
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