Imaginary round houses and real yellow slides

It's five-something in the morning. After a restless night dreaming of fighting fires and evacuating passengers I've spent the last two hours desperately trying to sleep. I've tried counting sheep, meditating, designing imaginary round houses and any other trick I've ever heard of to try to sleep. 

My round house has four levels, a courtyard and a wrap-around deck and I don't even want to tell you how many sheep are in my paddock.

Eventually I gave up and just studied. I'm not sure how much is retained at 5am but there you go.

Yesterday was intense. I went from highs to lows and upside down, around and back again. The day began with an exam and then we had drills until the early evening. My name was drawn to inflate the escape slide, which was awesome, and then we all got to jump down the slide, which was also pretty awesome.

Christa Galloway deploying the evacuation slide on JLB. Photos by Roxanne.

Then I voluntarily strapped myself into a jump seat, heart pounding, limbs shaking, gave a thumbs up to start the drill, shouted evacuation commands and "evacuated" a B737 while an instructor evaluated my every move. And again, and again, and again for the next seven hours on different planes with different scenarios.

Several times I felt the strong overpowering urge to run away and weep uncontrollably in a dark corner, but I stuck it out. I went into these drills knowing they would be very hard for me but with the intention to do my best. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, but if nothing else, I did my best.

I had help. I remember once, after feeling quite beaten, Jessica looked me in the eye and said "We got this." At one point Erin said a quirky "erinism", like only Erin can, and the tension evaporated into laughter. When I nailed a drill I got high fives and "You rocked it." I feel closer to my team mates than seems possible after four weeks. I consider every one of them a friend and without them, and my instructors, I could have conceivably been out on day one. My instructors are fair, tough, encouraging and relentless, all at the same time.

I can't congratulate myself on getting through it quite yet. I have more drills today and a final exam on Monday, service training, not to mention my line indoctrination. If I don't pass, I will be extremely disappointed but I feel like I've grown so much, the experience is worth it. Plus, it's like the most effective weight loss program ever!