Getting inquiries and having teens sign up for our Adventure in Alaska – A Trip for Teens this coming July 12-23, 2020 has me walking down memory lane. Imagining participants arriving by plane, some flying without their family for their first time, triggers memories of my first flight to Alaska. Not only was it my first flight on my own, it was my first flight ever!
I was 17 years old and I’d never been on an airplane. I think my entire family accompanied me to the airport in Rochester, New York. I was all dressed up. I think I was wearing a skirt and red high high heels. Back then getting dressed up for air travel was, unlike today, more the norm than not. My final destination was Kodiak, a community of several thousand on an island of the same name. I was headed there to work on a family friend’s boat for 30 days. If memory serves the round trip airfare was 900 and some dollars.
My first flight landed in Chicago where I was to change planes. First though, I went to baggage to collect my bag, a great big backpack. Passengers came, picked up their bags and left. More passengers came and more luggage went around the carousel. But not my backpack. So I waited. And waited. The clock was ticking and I was starting to get a little concerned about making it to my next plane in time. I spotted a man in a uniform and figured he worked for the airport. I told myself if my luggage didn’t show up in five minutes I would approach him and ask for help. Five minutes went by. I gave myself another five minutes. And another five.
At that point in my life, I was quite shy about talking to people I didn’t know. I had a weekly babysitting gig on Friday night. Dinner was usually pizza that we ordered over the phone and had delivered. This was well before internet and online ordering. Someone had to call the pizza joint and order the pizza. That meant talking to someone I didn’t know and doing that made me nervous. But in order to eat the pizza we had to call and order it. So I enthusiastically turned it into a game and the four kids I babysat were all eager to phone in the order so I didn’t have to. They never knew I was scared to make the phone call.
Those eager kids I babysat weren’t here in the airport with me to ask a stranger about my backpack. No one I knew was around. And the clock was ticking. Finally, with little time to spare before my flight left Chicago, I took a deep breath, mustered my courage and approached the uniformed man and inquired about my luggage. He asked to see my ticket and after he looked at it, told me my luggage was checked through and I would get it after I landed in Kodiak.
I don’t remember much else about the plane trip. Coming from Rochester, I’m pretty sure I only got to Anchorage the first day. I know I didn’t spend the night in a hotel room. I think I slept in the airport and the following day boarded a plane that took me to Kodiak. Where I was reunited with my backpack.
Since then I’ve been in lots of situations where I’ve approached and talked to people I haven’t known. Often it comes easy and is even fun! Still there is the occasion where I am nervous. I take a big breath, psyche myself up, breathe through the discomfort and deal with the situation. All while remembering and channeling my 17 year old dressed up self of long ago.
I hope you spot joy in your day. Sparkle on!
Molly Mulvaney is an unschooling mom with a part time law practice. She, her husband and teen son live in Cordova, Alaska. Their venture, a little alaska...BIG FUN! is a unique opportunity for small groups of teens to stay, play and grow with them in an eclectic town on the edge of the wilderness. Teens have fun, trust themselves, grow their confidence and increase their independence. You are invited to join us for epic adventures and respectful appreciation of the natural world and our place in it.