It was not my first time across the Atlantic, but it was my first important trip out into the world all on my own. I had been through University, supposedly gained a new understanding of life the universe and all that, but as it turns out I really felt just as vulnerable and alone as I had stepping out the doors of my High School the last time. I tried the “working for a living” thing, and nothing stuck for longer than a few months, so with the small wad of cash I had collected, I made the most brilliant and irrational decision I could think of.
I was in the shower one day, where all the best decisions happen, and it came to me alongside an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. It felt like this was the right thing to do, and the only possible thing I could do at the particular juncture in my life. I would buy a ticket to England with the money I had made digging holes over the past few months, and I would visit my friends whom I hadn’t seen for over four years. I was free to do as I chose, and freedom was what I wanted. So away I went!
When my Mother left me all alone in the airport (or plane station as I have come to call it) in Toronto after check-in to fend for myself it finally hit me. I was going to cross the ocean all by myself and the feeling was exhilarating. The last time I crossed the sea I was escorted by several teachers as well as 12 of my fellow classmates, which changes the feeling of it altogether. This was a whole different world, and I couldn’t wait for it. As my Mother retreated towards the door and headed back to her life, I thought about how the next person I would see that I knew or could recognize would be my best friend who I hadn’t seen for four years. Then, obviously, I panicked worried what I would do if she wasn’t there at the terminal on the other end to pick me up. I quickly got over this rather unpleasant thought and moved on.
I wandered around the main area of the airport for a while, having a look at some of the shops that sold overpriced Canadian garb like maple syrup and soapstone carvings, and then headed through security into the heart of the terminal. Passport clenched tightly to me, I was mentally going over anything that was in my bags hoping I hadn’t forgot any offensive materials, like hand cream or nail clippers. Heaven forbid I upset an airport security guard…
I made it through with ease and was free to explore the inner bustling confines of this strange place. People were absolutely everywhere, like ants in a freshly smooshed ant hill. I stop and look at as many of them as I could, and wonder intently where they’re all going and if it was anywhere near as exciting as my current adventure. Like that man hidden underneath his backpack, is he off to India? South America? To live in the jungles for a few months? I hope he doesn’t get malaria…Oh, or one of the many families from what appears to be the Middle East, are they going back home for fun or moving somewhere else because Canada just didn’t cut it for them? There is also that old woman over there that keeps glancing at me. She and her husband are apparently moving back home to England on the same flight as me, which I learn after a brief chat. His accent makes me happy. They miss it terribly, which makes me even more excited.
I then wonder where it is I should be going. I glance up at the monitor and see that they haven’t assigned a gate to my flight yet, so I make myself comfortable with a hot cup of caffeine and get used to my new and overstimulating surroundings. With nearly two hours to kill I start to get terribly antsy. Thinking what it could possibly be like over there, in England. A whole country full of people living their lives in a completely different way than I do. Coming from a small country town out in the boons, this will be the most novelty I would have had to deal with all at once. I hope I can handle it.
It’s time to head to my gate, number 39. Ughhh why is it so far away, I feel like I’m speed walking a gauntlet. I eventually reach it with the help of super-fast floors, and settle in to wait for my plane to be ready. After far too long they announce boarding and away I go, heart in mouth, ticket and passport in hand, feet on plane, butt in window seat.
As the plane takes off I’m smiling so big I’m nearly giggling, and with no one around to giggle at I’m sure the others on the plane thought I was a bit off. The clouds fall below me and the sky opens up to a highway with absolutely no traffic. Nothing is stopping me now! Wahoo!
The tiny food on the flight makes me smile even more, and the courteous attendants are well received. Especially when they bring me a tiny ice cream cone that looks to be the right size for a cat. It’s precious! Not to mention delicious. After lots of hours, lots of bad music I will not admit to, and the novelty nearly wearing off, we begin to descend on London. My sleepy eyes become fully alert, I am sitting straight up, sucking on that mint like it’s the last mint on earth. As I see the patchwork land below me, I feel a strange feeling of relief wash over me, like I am back where I am supposed to be, yet have never been here before.
The tiny wheels touch down and we skid to a halt. No one claps…this is good. I hate it when people clap on planes…way to not have confidence in your pilot…
Anyway…I sit and wait until most people have de-planed and take my time collecting all of my things and then mentally prepare myself for setting foot on a new continent once again. The first thing I notice is how it smells different. Not different enough to really notice, but it’s a new and exciting smell and it seems to be everywhere. After a bit of analysis, I decide it’s a warm, old and comforting smell that I assume comes from a place that has been populated for many centuries longer than…say…my ‘native land’.
I wander along another long hallway of windows and find myself in another long line at customs. The nerves come back, and I fear that if they don’t like the look of me they have the power to turn me right around and send me packing on another flight in the direction of home again, just after I’ve come all this way to get here. Turns out it was not that difficult and before I knew it was free to collect my luggage and meet my friend on…the other side…dum dum dum..
I was worried I wouldn’t recognize her after not seeing her for so long, but again I overanalysed it and in reality had noticed her instantly as I walked through the doors and gave her the biggest hug I could muster. I was finally here, in England, free to lark about as I thought fit, for two whole weeks. It was right then, from that moment of arrival and onwards, that my life would begin and I would have meaning and purpose back again. It was sensational.
-Miss Hailey Jane