- Discussion (3)
Page 1 of 3
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
A few years ago, I wrote an article in which I confessed, in rather jocular fashion, to a fear of flying, even though – with no little show of courage – I board a plane about twenty times a year. I’m pleased to say that I now feel much more confident during flights, perhaps because I’ve grown used to it or perhaps, as the trail of years behind us grows, we become more scornful about our possible future life and more satisfied with the life we’ve already accumulated. However, over a period of at least twenty years, plane journeys – of fifty minutes, two, seven or even twelve hours – could be relied upon to transform me into a highly superstitious little boy, who reached his various destinations feeling utterly drained after the hours of tension and the indescribable effort of having to ‘carry’ the plane.
What I’ve always found so odd about my fear – although it might also be the explanation – is that I first flew in a plane when I was only one month old, in the days when, for most people, flying was still a rare experience. I was born in Madrid on September 20, 1951 and on that very date – it had been planned beforehand, so it wasn’t that he took one look at me and fled – my father set off on the first of his Atlantic crossings and travelled to America with a contract to teach at Wellesley College, Massachusetts – a college for young ladies – for the academic year of 1951–2. My mother followed a month later, taking with her my two older brothers, Miguel and Fernando, as well as me, the newborn baby. I don’t know what the travelling conditions were like (apart from the fact that I was dressed all in pink, because they had been expecting a girl), or whether I cried a little or a lot as we crossed the ocean, or whether the crew members of Iberia or TWA made a fuss of me or loathed me. And I recall nothing, either, of the return journey – New York–Madrid – nine or ten months later. I do, however, have a vague recollection of my third trip by plane. I was just four years old, had acquired another brother, Álvaro, and my father had decided to take us all to New Haven, Connecticut, at the behest of Yale University. It’s not a very pleasant memory: I can see myself – not crying, but very, very angry – lying in the aisle, refusing to get up and doubtless obstructing crew and passengers alike. I don’t know how long the tantrum lasted – possibly a couple of minutes, possibly much longer – but I’m sure that if, as an adult, I had seen the child that was me, I would have hated him for blocking the aisle; more than that, I would have thought it a bad omen, which is always rather worrying in mid-flight.
Page 1 of 3 | Next Page