My heart sank and my insides felt thick and clouded, slowing both my thoughts and movements. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in such a short time, and I will always wonder what would have happened if I had made the other one.
My first two weeks in England were thus far the best two weeks I had ever experienced as a human being, relishing what the earth had to offer me. They say the best way to learn about your country and culture is to leave it behind; I’ve said this before but I just want to repeat it because it still holds true. It’s also no coincidence that the best way to learn about who you really are, is much the same process. And I will tell you one very important thing. For the first time in my life, the self that I found those two weeks was the first one I’ve ever really fond of.
I found a welcoming home in the hearts of my long lost friends, I made new ones who I will never forget, I saw so many wonderful things and learned more about life than most of the 22 years before me had taught.
And now, after all of my adventures, I found myself waiting for a westbound plane, sitting in a Costa at Gatwick Airport with two of my friends, the lot of us being completely miserable. Even in the insanity of a churning and flowing plane station, I swear you could have heard a pin drop.
“You know, you could just…stay?” she said quietly and nonchalantly, as simple as one would ask ‘could you pick up some milk?’, and like it was the obvious answer to all of our discomfort.
“I could…” I said passively, nodding my head slowly and staring at the bottom of my coffee cup, expressionless.
“We’d look after you, you’d always have somewhere to stay” he threw into the budding serious life-altering conversation.
Moments which seemed like hours passed in silence…
My brain began to run at top speed, overanalyzing all of the implications of not getting on that plane. The pros, the cons, all the other stuff that doesn’t really matter. Would my cat miss me if I never came home? What would the government think? Would it botch my chances of getting back in later if I stayed? I’ve got 6 months as a tourist before they get suspicious…How much money do I have left? Oh wait, my Mom would throw a fit, and I don’t think my boyfriend would like it much either. I would be out the cost of the flight too…and I’m actually SUPPOSED to be there. What if the person sitting next to my seat is worried I was killed by the people in security, or being held hostage by secret terrorists and the whole flight is doomed to failure and fiery death?? I wouldn’t want to wish that on them. But on the other hand, she (or he I guess) definitely doesn’t deserve that extra seat space for the ride. My friends also just drove me all the way to the airport, and having to drive back with me would seem like a big waste and I’d feel guilty for the rest of my life…but It’s just so lovely here and I don’t want to go! GRAHH!
I have gone off on several ridiculous mental tangents before someone spoke up again.
“You are so happy here, do you really want to give it all up and go home?” She said
“No, I want to stay.” I say smiling, seriously entertaining the thought of just staying here.
The mood of the conversation changed to reluctant excitement, so hopefully this new simple idea wouldn’t get destroyed by too much enthusiasm all at once. Like it was a lost and lonely kitten and we didn’t want to scare it away, even though we wanted to cuddle the shit out of it.
The minutes to the flights’ departure were counting down faster than I would have liked them to, and I was beginning to panic.
‘I want to stay…’ I kept repeating over and over in my head, an unhealthy mantra that would soon lose it’s meaning due to blind repetition My emotions were viscously rolling between excitement at the thought of staying, and terror from the thought of leaving everything I knew and loved in Canada behind me.
“I want to stay….But I can’t.” I finally said, desperately trying not to cry. I was disappointing everyone I knew in that room including myself, but it was all for the benefit of everyone and everything I had back home.
And that was it.
We all said very reluctant goodbyes on my way to the gate, but I was confident I would see them again. Not that that was any consolation for openly choosing to leave. I felt like a bad person and began to regret my decision. In the movies people always get up off the plane on the last minute to run back into the arms of a lover, but it seemed like the moment of decision was past and once I stepped through security I was committed to going home.
I punished myself with two simple thoughts over the next 10 hours. The first was my now over stated mantra now in the past tense, of “I could have stayed” and the second which was torture in the nature of itself, “I can always come back”, which everyone knows is only an excuse and a terrible one at that used only to actually avoid doing things.
I was a coward that day and it changed my life. I’m not saying for the worse or for the better, but it made a drastic change on the outcome and on who I am as a person.
When the flight landed at the Pearson intl Plane Station, I de-planed, got my bags and went out to meet a comforting face so everything could go back to normal. I was exhausted, I was covered in plane grime and wished for no more than a hug, a kiss, some fresh air, and a shower. I crossed the threshold into the arrival area and looked for someone I knew. I couldn’t see anyone right away, no one flailing and jumping at my momentous return, so I just moved out of the way to let others have their moment.
I thwumped my bags down next to a stone pillar and waited. I then started to think… I began to think about being back in cold and grimy Canada, where no one had come to meet me at the gate, or bother to pick me up on time. I couldn’t help it, but it was then that I finally began to cry. I cried quietly but with every single emotion in my body. I was disappointed, I was scared, I was angry, I was alone, and I was SO full of regret I thought about running all the way over to the departure gate and getting a ticket back to England. But instead I just stood there, crying.
After an hour I was beyond frustrated and began actively searching for him. I found him sitting on a bench down some odd and random hallway that was clearly not the arrival gate, sitting under a sign that pointed towards where the gate actually was.
‘So much for the hug and kiss’ I thought, as I looked at the unshaven trollop before me. I just wanted to go home.
Maybe I should have just stayed.
-Miss Hailey Jane
(Note: As it has been pointed out to me that ‘trollop’ is a word describing something very different, I would like to say that I know it probably shouldn’t be in there. But due to the general hilarity in describing an ‘unshaven’ person as a promiscuous woman, I will leave it for your general enjoyment. Thank you. This has been a Note.)