Southwest Flight 812: Making sense through story

After a fitful 90 minute nap, I find myself in a
TV studio preparing for live TV. Not my typical
Saturday morning experience!

It’s a little after 3 a.m. today and I am sitting in the green room of some television studio in downtown Sacramento. At 4, I’ll be on the weekend edition of Good Morning America, live. LIVE. To talk about being alive after Southwest Flight 812. I’m still stuck on the word alive.

While fellow flight survivor Willie and I wait with his charming wife and a studio producer, CNN plays quietly in front of us. All of a sudden, I see one of my photographs and my name flash across the screen. I squeal! I haven’t seen any of the news coverage except for my Twitter feed explosion. Soon, I see my own face and hear my own voice. If going on Good Morning America isn’t surreal enough, seeing my mug on CNN minutes before hand was like being in an alternate reality.
I still can’t believe this has happened/is happening to me. Have I mentioned I’m just happy to be alive?
My trip to the Twilight Zone continues with calls and interviews with various national media outlets. (I wonder how they got my private cell phone number; I suppose Big Brother is alive and well!) A frequent question is why.
Why did I take pictures?
Why am I doing all of these interviews?
Why am I so calm?
The calm thing I can’t really account for–I’m still waiting for my big “ugly cry”–but the storytelling is natural. Telling stories is how we live our lives, process experience, make sense of the world and, as I’ve learned again in the past 30 hours, develop connections with others. And pictures, well you know what they say.
As a budding communication scholar, college journalism major, and lifelong writer, I am committed to telling important stories. I just never imagined that I would have one so sensational of my own. The decision to take pictures and tweet from the flight was instinctual. Despite being labeled a “citizen journalist,” I just wanted to show my friends and family what it was like and that I was not offering the most tasteless April Fool’s Day joke ever. Although it sounds melodramatic now, I also wanted to document what happened just in case our outcome wasn’t so positive.
Happily, I feel my 15 minutes rapidly coming to a close (more on that later!), and I want to say thanks again to our amazing Southwest flight crew for getting us home safe. And also, a huge thank you to the many individuals who have helped me to construct, tell, and share my story. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful wishes and kind words more than I can say.
xoxo,
shawna

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