"Fine," he shrugged. "It's not eating at airports that I'm afraid of."
We weren't there to catch a flight. We were completing homework from Ian's therapist, who was trying to desensitize him to the airport environment. The next month, I was returning to my home state of Michigan for a good friend's wedding. No one there had met Ian, though we'd been introduced by mutual friends two years earlier, flirting by the heat lamps during a chilly night at the Edendale Grill in Silver Lake. By now we were sharing an apartment in Atwater Village. I was eager to show my family and friends that I had found someone worthy of being my permanent plus one. There was only one problem: Ian's fear of flying.
He'd flown before. Just not since
I'd known about his fear of flying from the beginning of our relationship, but it didn't begin to bother me until a year later, when it became clear that we were committed to each other and to our lives in L.A. So how would we maintain close relationships with our families in the Midwest if he could never fly back to see them? I placed so much importance on mobility, he even agreed to see the therapist, though her journaling and airport dining exercises did little to help.
Ian took two
I told him that he could. All he had to do was let me guide him onto the plane and just sit for five hours. Despite my pleading and reasoning, I joined the boarding line alone. During takeoff, I couldn't shake the feeling that Ian had chosen his fear over me. By the time I got to Michigan, I had convinced myself that the empty seat next to me foretold our relationship's doom.
The day I returned to L.A., I shrugged off Ian's apologies and went to my regular Monday night
Mara reminded me that I had both the balance and strength necessary for the pose. I tried again and even managed to briefly attain the position. But my legs started shaking and I couldn't tell if I needed to move them forward or backward to stay up. Something about inverting completely disoriented me.
As I plunged to the earth, I finally understood: Ian physically couldn't put one foot in front of the other to walk toward that plane any more than I could hold my headstand. His inability to fly had nothing to do with how much he cared about me. His fear of flying had nothing to do with me, period.