Two-time Oscar nominee Catherine Keener reads Katherine Friedman Holland's essay about a near-death experience on an airplane.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Catherine Keener reads her story, she's known for her Oscar nominated performances in the films being John Malkovich and capacity here she is with Catherine Friedman. Holland essay live without me, I'll understand.
We we're flying to a resort south of Cancun for the wedding of my husband's cousin as we rise into the cloudless LOS Angeles sky. I try as always, to suppress my unease. I have always been afraid of flying, but today I am tired enough to doze off, as we make our way south. Just over an hour into the flight. There is a slight bump, followed by a distinct click. As overhead panels fall open and the oxygen mask unfurl, then the plane begins to plunge the murder we've put on your oxygen mask and bathroom people. The murky I look pleasingly at my husband of six months. It's okay. He says just as he has on so many other flights. When I panicked at an unfamiliar noise or tip, we are going to be okay. This time is different. The plane is racing downward. My seatbelt, pulling taut against my lap, my mind fumbles to assemble a picture of what is happening, but each piece of information seems disconnected absurd. The cabin is eerily quiet shouldn't someone be screaming. I think I hear a muffled sob, but I cannot look the other passengers. The flight attendants doubled against gravity pull themselves up. The aisles by the armrests bent over like mountain climbers, one holding an oxygen mask to her face the man behind her cradling, the portable tank in his arm. No one speaks there's the smell of something smoldering fire engine failure. I look into my husband's eyes, begging for reassurance or an explanation. Again. He says we're. Okay, a smoldering smell is strong now, and so we say what people say when they think it is the last thing the other will ever hear. I love you. I love you too, so this is it the scene and the diving plane seems choreographed rehearsed as if I had waiting for it to happen, my entire life, yet my reactions are alien. Yes, my heart is pounding through my fingers. My pupils feel as if they're about to burst, but the sense of panic, the urge to scream or cry is absent. There is no instant replay of my life. No existential secrets are revealed to me. Could the moments before death really be this banal? I feel a deep and penetrating sadness for our parents and my sister wave of empathy for our friends when they hear the news, but I know life will go on for them. They have no choice and so in a falling plane over the sand coated mexican canyons. I look out the window into the endless orange afternoon and I wait and then the plane stops falling. It levels, dips levels again or seatbelt slack at the captain's shaky voice informs us that we will be making an emergency landing. We can remove our masks. There is no need to assume crash position. It will be a normal ending.
Some time later, we down at a small domestic airport, three hours south of the american border as the plane taxis, Cabin is silent, afraid, that wiped away tears. The pilot stands ashen faced in the cockpit nodding be filed passed, but no one speaks to him, and he offers no words of explanation. And the tiny airport lounge scatter into clusters, not making eye contact, seemingly embarrassed to have shared this near tragedy? I try to Reach out to a young girl who is travelling alone to meet friends for spring break, I can t- she's been crying. That was my worst nightmare. She says mine too. I reply
cry until I hear my father's voice on the payphone, and I'm afraid I won't stop. So I hand the phone to my husband. Not before saying to my father, I can't get back on a plane. Yes, he says you can. So we wait for word. An airline official appears and says: perhaps they will try to fix the plane and fly us out later in the evening, but the passenger rumble collectively in protests. No one wants to board that plan again. Instead, airline detours of flight. full of mildly surprised, passengers to pick us up and take us experts city from there. They put it On another plane to Cancun
the hotel is colonial and enormous. We are tagged with white, Tick wristbands for the all you can eat and drink the face, and then we had to our rooms to sleep The next morning, predictably, is washed and sunshine. at the beach children, shriek and tumble in the gentle surf. Their hair braid tightly into cornrows affixed with plastic beads every When rejoice in the delights of this paradise, I stand and watch transfixed my husband and I have barely spoken since the events of the day before when we do.
It is the moat owns as if we are what performance, we don't want to disturb. We try to talk about what happened on the plane, try to reckon tracked it, and then we stop he wants to past it. I can tell we're lucky. He repeats I nod, but truth, is I don't feel lucky. or even alive, I feel indifferent. All I can do is watch everyone around me experience. What I should be feeling. No, it's worse I watch them Condemn them. we utter uselessness of their joy. When it is time to go, we take the shuttle to the airport
I wait It's a familiar tingle of anticipation about returning home and surge of anxiety upon boarding the airplane, but I feel neither the first time in my life. I am not afraid to fly. In fact, I am not afraid of anything. But the feeling is not one of the British. I am still search For something, even my old fear, too Heather me to my previous life, It is only this feeling of utter remove.
And suddenly, as our plane, precious skyward, its engines roaring. I am taken back to the moment when the universe tightened its grip, threatening to peel me from my family, my friends, my memories, a few sure I would never know Second, I resist I asked: my loved ones- and I exist part- how can I be lost to the world? We spend our lives binding ourselves to one another. attaching ourselves to this life like mollusk clinging to the reef but that plane dropped from the sky. I knew that the world would go on without me, my friends, grieve and move on
my loved ones- would endure all had did do was accept this and let go so I did, but we didn't crash. Here I remain among friends and loved ones, Beginning of my marriage and all the fierce entanglements of my life, yet letting go, it seems I created a break between my former and selves that isn't so easily bridged at home. I go, grocery store rubbed the dog's belly fold, the laundry all the routines and rituals that are supposed to give life structure and meaning, but week the week, I'm still in that other place a half step remove wondering when and how I am ever when you come back from this
a month after my return. The answer comes in the form of phone call summoning me to the emergency room. My father has had a heart attack. It is not until I am beside him in the intensive care unit ripping his hand as he battles his weakened heart for each breath. that I feel my own heart pounding again for the first time since that day it's all so familiar. The panic. The terror, the threat of imminent loss But this time I don't let go. my father laced with wires and unconscious. pulling me back. If you're hiring, you know it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. You just hope the right.
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I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes, when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed. Sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o t jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as the sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times, dot com, slash games,
I love, spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed. Sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o g jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as the sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at Enron, times dot com slash games,
Catherine Keener reading Catherine Friedman, Hollins essay live without me. I'll understand it's been almost ten years since the incident on the plane will hear. What's happened since after the break. Support for modern love, the podcast comes from living proof, the site. It's behind healthy hair, I'm Katie from living proof, and we get love letters all the time like this one, dear living proof, I thought I was going to have to cut off all of Hair so dry and frizzy
new hairdresser gave me no fresh shampoo and the leave in conditioner, and now I have a full head of bouncy shiny, hair, awesome, stuff, love, Donna. use the code, no friends for a free travel size, humidity shield, with your twenty dollar order, living proof that come with act. It's modern love, the podcast, a mega. Chakrabarti and now a postscript from the editor of modern love for the New York Times Daniel Jones and the author. This week's essay, Katherine Friedman, HOLLAND, when we got back? I I really wanted answers. I wanted to understand what had happened. Why it had happened, And I wrote to the airline and the boy mine is there are valves in the plane that keep it pressure and there was a malfunction with one of these valves that caused the cabin to become depressurized
and when that happens, the protocol is that the pilot has to get down to an altitude where you can breathe without the oxygen masks as quickly as possible. So the dive. We experience was actually controlled dive that the pile was making intentionally, but he just didn't have time to explain that, and so in the moment when What's going on, it's pretty terrifying, in the immediate aftermath of that experience. My fear flying disappeared, but it disappeared along with a lot of other things and emotions and anxieties cause. I just I don't know if you'd just it as serve a post, traumatic stress reaction or Depression or something, but it was part of that flat ass to I was feeling afterwards afterwards, just
the fears were gone, but so are so many other emotions that engaged me in life and in the world and then you know after My dad had his heart attack, and I felt kind of back into the business of life and all the complicated emotions and entanglements and everything the fear started. To return to the point that I even took a fear of flying course in northern California, and it was helpful in many ways. I would say I'm back to being an uneasy flyer, but I I fuse to let it prevent. From experiencing my life. Yes, it is the kind of essay that we run in modern love. Occasionally that really stretches definition of what modern love can be people might wonder how. How is that about love, but at Deepest level, what what this experience
What's to her, it makes her question what did that love amount to at the end and what did those bonds amount to at the end, What's so refreshing and in sing to me about Katherine's essay is how it turns the cliche of the near death experience on his head. When you're in a car accident or you survive cancer treatment or in her. in case you're on a plane that you think is going down, you think okay! Well, once you get through that you're, so more appreciative of life and so much more appreciative of love and hers. opposite experience, but an understandable ways. It's realization for her that is so sort of stark and disappointing. But she doesn't know how, to accommodate that into her life when her life, continuing
husband about life. and you know later when we talked about it and, I sort of said what were you thinking like? What did you really believe this was it and he said no, I thought the plane would crash land somewhere and I was looking out the window and figuring out our escape plan like how we would get out is I I just went The place of over you know like weird, and I could say that become sort of a metaphor for our marriage, where I'm ready to just give up and he's Always has a plan, in a way that we're going to get through things
Catherine and her husband believe, in LOS Angeles, with their two sons who are seven and nine years old and there's someone else and Catherine's life whose helped her through the experience. So happy to say my dad turns turned ninety one in December. He still put on his three peace suit every single day and goes into his law firm, he's no longer technically practicing law but he's just someone who doesn't waste today, My dad always said it's better to be lucky than smart. I do in so many ways feel like I've been so lucky and and I'm grateful
Katherine Friedman, HOLLAND, author of live without me, I'll understand. We also heard from modern love, editor Dan Jones, and now we want to hear from you on this. Have you had a near death experience? What did it teach you about? Love. cause you to make any big decisions in your relationship or did it reveal any regrets? You have in your love life record of voice memo, keep it to sixty seconds or less pleased and email it to modern love. At W B, you are dot org special thanks to Catherine Keener for reading this week's essay. You can see her later this year and the films unless and we don't belong here- next week, on modern love. You might know him as Gary Walsh on Veep or maybe as Buster Bluth in arrested development. Tony Hale read the story about getting dumped and falling hard. Did she have her reasons
and a better boyfriend. It's telling that I was forty eight when we met and never married, that I had recently looked in the mirror and seen staring back male pattern. Baldness and the egregious folly of my broken field running brand of romance. No good can come from dwelling on such questions. Modern love is a production of the New York Times and W B you are Bosnians, NPR station, its produced, directed and edited by Jessica Airport, John Parodi and Emory seabirds. It are casting
salt and is aiming Libyans Iris Adler, as our executive producer, Daniel Jones, is the editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show music for the pod cast courtesy of a p m. I magna trucker body, see a next week. If you love modern love check out W B, you are advised podcast, dear sugar, where hosts Cheryl strayed and Steve Almond answer all your questions, no matter how deep poor dark subscribed. Dear sugar on Itunes or your favorite podcast app. Squarespace is proud to help make modern love possible. Please visit squares Stockholm and build your own website, whether you a landing page, a beautiful gallery, a professional blog or an online store. It's all scalable and easy to build start. Your free trial today
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Transcript generated on 2022-04-17.