I will readily admit that I’m not an adventurer. It’s my husband who is and over the 12 years we’ve been together I have willingly accompanied Michel (yes, that’s his name) to countries I would have never dreamt of visiting prior to our meeting.
I am a good wife like that. I’ll follow my husband to places if it means I won’t miss out on any of the fun and he does all the planning and organising.
Then a couple of years ago, just when I thought he couldn’t get any more daring, Michel did something really off the charts. He got himself a pilot’s license.
But as is the case with him, he didn’t stop there.
Last year with just over 120 hours of flying time under his belt, Michel flew a single piston engine plane from Switzerland to Poland and back, all in a span of 48 hours. It was a precursor to this year’s challenge, which is to take the same plane, over the English Channel and into Old Blighty.
But here’s the kicker. This time he won’t be doing it with another pilot for back up. In a few days – weather permitting that is – it will be me sitting in the passenger seat alongside him.
I didn’t bargain for this when I said, “I do” nine years ago.
I’ve hummed and hawed about writing this post for a couple of weeks now as this is our second attempt to cross the English channel into the UK after our first was thwarted by bad weather a few months ago. My blog has a small readership – three people at the most including my mother – and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
But then one of my favourite bloggers, Torre DeRoche who runs The Fearful Adventurer decided to hold a competition around the launch of her new book, “Love with a chance of drowning”. The book chronicles her yearlong voyage across the Pacific – inspite of her intense fear of water – with her Argentinian lover and his humble sailboat. The competition is looking for blog entries where writers outline an adventure that makes them fearful.
Torre’s timing was impeccable.
In a few days, I may be sitting in a capsule with wings crossing a rather large body of water. Believe it or not I’ve never really been afraid of flying. Want to know just what gives me the heebie-jeebies about this trip? Here’s the list:
- Crashing. There, I said it.When I voiced my fears about crashing into the English Channel to Michel, he took my hands in his and looking at me with his soft brown eyes said, “At least we will die together sweetheart”. (Ladies, these words – when delivered with a heavy French accent – make the moment all the more romantic and, just that much more, dramatic.) And I’m not the only one who’s afraid of us crashing. My mother is not so convinced that we’ll be safe just because we have to wear orange life jackets in the plane as we cross the waters of the Channel. In between nervous laughter she also suggested we wear helmets.
- I will have to land the plane. Don’t laugh. This has happened and it could happen. Michel could pass out or he could have temporary amnesia and I’d be left holding the stick – literally. If such a calamity came to pass, I just hope it does so over English speaking territory. After 10 years in Switzerland it still takes me time to process someone’s directions in French.
- That we’ll land up in Bulgaria. My co-piloting duties will include making changes to waypoints on Michel’s highly technical GPS navigation system for small planes. The man is putting a lot of faith in a woman who systematically gets lost in her own neighbourhood.
- That I will not be able to stay awake. Being able to operate the highly intricate GPS navigation system for small planes, implies that you are able to stay awake long enough to make the changes the pilot requests.I have missed entire plane, car and train journeys because I have an inexplicable inability to stay awake in a moving vehicle. This is not very helpful when you’re expected to help fly a plane.
- I will not be able to hold in a wee. This will not be the first time that I will fly with Michel, but it will be the longest time I will spend in a plane without any toilets. If I need to go for a wee while we’re in the air, life will be pretty unpleasant.
- I will be sick. Being sick in a bag is no fun for the passenger, or the pilot. (Apparently, nervous farts are also hard to handle when having to pilot a really tiny plane).
But if I was to be really honest with myself, I think I’m most fearful of the answer to this question: what the hell is next year’s challenge going to be?
It’s hard being the wife of an adventurer and I’m so afraid that I won’t be able to keep up with the man I married. He’s already talking about a round-the-world trip with the plane at some point in his life and I’m not sure if my bladder will be able to take such a long journey.
There is also a little part of me that wonders how I got so lucky in life. Not many people have the opportunity to experience this world of ours in such a unique way. It feels, for want of a better word, sinful. (Can you tell I’m Catholic?)
Even as a little girl I always dreamed of an existence filled with excitement and adventure. And now that I have it, my biggest first world problem is sitting back and just simply enjoying it. Most women would give their right arm to share a small space with a man who speaks with a French accent. I, on the other hand, worry about what this means for my karma in my next life.
So when we do end up going on this trip my biggest challenge will be to savour every single moment and really, truly appreciate it for all its worth.
P.S. Torre, just so you know – Michel also has a license to operate a boat, which is why I have decided he will not be reading your book. I don’t think my bladder could handle your kind of adventure either.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press
“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com
“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail