I’ve never been this close to the moon. I’ve watched it from porches, sun roofs, bedroom windows, patios, and the shitty camera lens on my iPhone trying to capture what God’s eyes had already etched in my mind for the moment. The reflection of the crescent shined off the wings of a mechanical angel and that was the only time I felt like I was close to God and above the devil. I was being carried to a new destination as landscapes created by the hands of humans passed under me.
Growing up I would sit with my sister watching planes cross through the skies. We would dream about the days where we would catch flights (not feelings lol). Instead of watching cars go past our neighborhood home and saying “that’s me”, indicating that we wanted the flashy car, we thought about the desire to do more and thought we were in deep intellectual discussions at the time. Even asking the questions “what if we move from Freeland right now and were sitting in Atlanta? Would we still be unhappy since nothing has changed but our location?” This was deep for a couple of kids who didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. No idea how we would eat, if we would wake up to the lights off, or a missing mother. It was our way of escaping the realities that continued to have us dreaming of a life on the other side of a plane ride.
Either way, we watched as these planes zipped past our neighborhoods, dreaming of the day we could look back at our home from 30,000 feet in the air. Well, it happened. I was able to board my first plane in 2016, a few days after New Year’s Day. I went alone and flew to Huston for a conference. Since then, I’ve had my share of plane rides and airport experiences since dreaming on the block with my baby sister. It wasn’t the dream I expected, nor what I saw on MTVs The Fabulous Life Of. There was no champagne, wide leather seats, a bedroom, and televisions mounted to the walls of the aircraft. The planes I was boarding was not jet. But, it was an experience that people from the places I come from have yet to experience.
The main reason for this lackluster airplane experience was because I was fat. Me expressing this isn’t a way to create a pitty party because sis, I’m going to get my behind on a plane and FLY! But I’ve ran into multiple situations where I panicked to put on a seatbelt and never asked for a seatbelt extender. I have had this discussion with others who had a similar experience. Each time the bell run on the plane to alert passengers to put on their seatbelt, I sucked it up, literally, and rode this motha all the way out. You hear me jive turkey?
But today was a celebration. I rode with American Airlines and my hips didn’t converse with my seat neighbor. I extended the seatbelt buckle and still had room had room. ROOM ROOM. Like hula hoop room. I posted it to my IG story and Hilda (the poetry queen) quickly sent me a reply saying “Which airlines?!” There were exclamation marks! You hear me? To some this may seem odd, keep it moving this ain’t for you, but for those of us who have to always double check our lives because of size, this was a sigh of relief as I did not have to think twice of my existence in a space that has shammed fat bodies for years. I told her is was American and she responded “I’m about to book my next flight with them. F praying that I don’t need an extension”
Some would say “just ask for the extension” or go further and say “lose weight”. First of all, these thighs ain’t listening to you or me. So go sit in your seat and buckle up, you body shaming hater. Cause these hands? Are available to book you a flight into next week. Ask ya momma what I’m talking about if you’re confused. Mind ya business.
Nevertheless, this short discussion means a lot for those of us who have to feel anxiety when we enter a plane. There is pressure including watching eyes glare at you as you shuffle down the aisle to your seat. Praying that you don’t have to sit between or next to someone who shows distain or resistance towards you, all because you may “crush them” or have all your fat on them. I’m warming you up fam. You’re welcome. I understand personal space and I wouldn’t invade it, if we could ask airlines to make first class size seats for all of us instead of just for the coin advantaged persons.
This seatbelt fitting meant I did not have to expose myself to the flight attendant to get an extender. In the past, I have seen attendants dramatically announce the request of the passenger out loud and get the attention of the whole damn plane. I’ve seen grown men and women turn childlike when they had to ask for assistance to accommodate their larger frames. They were ashamed to receive what they needed to be safe because everyone always reminds bigger bodies that you shouldn’t need more if you were less. You wouldn’t need more if you were less.
This is a reminder that because our size doesn’t “fit” into the spaces we were given, it doesn’t mean we should be scoffed at or considered an inconvenience. As individuals, we try to shrink ourselves mentally and physically just so the world accepts us without ridicule. The same flight I paid for is now an uncomfortable minefield with live mines that I can trigger because of my body. I am literally walking through a space that could erupt on me if I make the wrong move in my body. We are a problem for simply existing.
At least American Airlines reduces the fear of not fitting in a seat and adds just that much more peace to my flight. I can’t change people’s thoughts, but I can sit in my seat knowing I don’t have to prove I “fit in”.