“What is your reason for entering the U.S.?”
“I’m doing some flight training.”
“So … you’re a flight attendant?”
“No. I’m a pilot.”
“So … you train OTHER flight attendants?”
“No. I’m a pilot.”
“So … you’re a LADY pilot?”
You know those epiphanal moments? Those watershed suspensions of the time/space continuum, in which if you just listen to the Universe … if you just remain receptive to the many signs, both obvious and subtle that Life will present to you … you can make a sage decision that will propel you onto the right path towards your sublime and serendipitous Destiny? Yeah, well apparently I’m the least perceptive asshole on the face of the earth cause I sailed right through that awkwardly sexist exchange at the U.S./Canadian border and began my odyssey towards a career in aviation.
As a pilot.
Not a lady pilot.
Note: On that particular trip, I was sent to secondary screening because the customs officer didn’t believe me. Spent four hours in there … missed my flight … which was the last flight of the day … had to come back the next morning … where I went through pretty much the same style interrogation with another customs officer. Again – I’m not the most perceptive asshole roaming the globe.
Several years ago … several lifetimes ago … I was an established actor and writer, living in Toronto, Canada. “Established” is a euphemistic term we creative types use when we have the respect of our industry peers but a relatively shitty income. I did, however, own my own home, a very old sailboat with a wonderful personality called “Ship for Brains” and a stainless steel Kitchen Aid blender.
This year I own … a stainless steel Kitchen Aid blender.
But back to Toronto.
I’ve always enjoyed characterizing myself to others that I feel inferior to as a “goal-oriented” person. Truth be told, I am an “enthusiast”. Or, if this conversation is taking place in a writers’ room, I am a “dilettante”. I am basically a dog distracted by a squirrel. Whatever new shiny thing glints in my peripheral, I will happily wander out into traffic in pursuit of my next opportunity at greatness. Or at the very least, temporary mediocrity. I’m only 5’4”. I don’t need to set the bar that high.
To date, I knew how to play a piano, a guitar, a clarinet and an alto sax. I knew how to use a table saw, a jigsaw, a compound miter saw and a reciprocating saw. I knew how to make curtains, a panini and my boyfriend, miserable.
I was on my way. But restless. Always restless. Eyes peeled for the next squirrel.
Scuba diving? Trip to Venezuela … diving course … dragged into the boat by the seat of my bathing suit … BOOM. 1 PADI certification.
Sky diving? Trip to Simcoe … diving course … dragged across the ground by a re-inflated chute … BOOM. 17 Solo Freefalls.
House flipping? Trip to hell … diving into domestic discord of course … dragged into debt by a delayed timeline … BOOM. 5 Renovated House Sales.
The more difficult the endeavor, the more of an “enthusiast” I became. And if anyone told me I couldn’t do something … I didn’t hear it because I was already backing my car out of the driveway. I can make a mule look mellow. So, I was enjoying being dragged along by the seat of my pants when a most unfortunate occurrence took place.
I had a birthday.
I hate birthdays. Birthdays have always made me feel as though I’m running out of time. The copious amount of cake I traditionally consume assuages the panic somewhat but still. Birthdays are a bitch. Each year my beleaguered boyfriend attempted to seek out a present that would render the day a bit more palatable. Band aid on a gunshot wound. A lesser man would have left Earth.
Instead, he decided to have ME leave Earth. He was beleaguered. He wasn’t an idiot. My birthday present that year was an Introductory Flying Lesson in a Cessna 150 at the Toronto Island Airport.
And so it began …