One more week to go and I am off. I am out of here for 5 months, exploring a new world, a new country and getting to know better a slightly familiar language; English. Leaving for a sweet little island in BC, Canada - Salt Spring Island. Stacks of clothing and other things like the small white pillow my grandma made a few years ago, my stuffed tiger, a few electrical cords and a first aid kit for my wheelchair in case I get a flat tire, are almost ready to go on the sofa in my room.
What would I have done without the support of my mom in the last few weeks of preparation? She kept track of the shopping list when everything got too much for me. She helped me finish my history essay because I couldn't think about anything other than the big big trip that would happen in just a few days. Whatever it was, she was there for me. Half a year without her? I could not imagine it.
One thing after the other gets crossed out on my packing list. But every time one thing is done I remember another thing to do so I write it down. It does not seem like the list is getting any shorter at all.
Only one more week until I leave, tons of things left to do and I am freaking out.
One last trip to the outdoor store; 6 days to go. A pair of gloves, rain pants, picking up the right sized boots and the coat I ordered two days ago. The stacks of clothing are getting bigger and bigger and I am wondering if all of it will fit into the suitcase.
Our family organized a barbecue outside in the yard for my grandparents, aunt and uncle, neighbors and friends. My mom printed Canada flags on Chinese Lanterns and I ordered maple leaf napkins. Too bad that it started raining as soon as the first guests arrived. Good thing we had a pavilion to sit underneath, the food was good and we had a lot of things to talk about so I had a great time. I hope everyone else did too.
Mom gets the scale from the basement. I figure I might want to weigh my suitcase to make sure it is not too heavy. When I finally fit in all that I have to, close it and put it on the scale; it is way too heavy. Oh well I think. This is going to be easy to fix. I take out a couple of soaps, shampoos, socks and shirts. I close it and put it back on the scale. Oh no still too heavy. Alright so I'll have to leave my favorite sweaters and two pants behind. Four pairs of pants should work. So I try the scale again. Still overweight. This suitcase needs a diet and some exercise. Seriously. Although it is hard I will have to leave some scarves here. Maybe I should bring only one instead of three.
So I go back and forth until I finally just reach the limit. Actually I am still over the weight limit. But whatever. Five days to go.
I figured it would be a good thing to walk around in the streets and take as much in as I can. I want to say goodbye to the view out of my window, the busy streets and the smell of nature in the park. I take my camera with me and fill the pictures with an infinity of memories. Four days to go.
Emails from friends and family fill my inbox; words of love, wisdom and farewell. Why do they have to make it even harder to leave? I am asking myself if it was such a good decision to go away. All by myself in a foreign country with total strangers. That's insane. What am I doing? But there's no way back now. Three more nights.
Only two full days left. One last check to make sure I have everything I need. To get my mind off of the thought of leaving I decide to go to the bookstore to calm my nerves; to calm my nerves and look for inspiration.
Why buy a book now? I am not going to have time to read anyway. But the thought of a new book is too tempting. I cannot leave a bookstore without a new book. So I buy a book about a boy that falls in love with a girl who is deaf. Doesn't sound too bad and love stories are always a good choice.
As I am trying to fall asleep I realize that tomorrow will be my last day. Oh what have I done?
This is my last day so I thought it would be sweet to spend it with my mom. I take her out for coffee and invite her to a movie in the late afternoon. My mother cannot stop talking about my departure tomorrow. Poor mom, I think she is more nervous than I am. This will be a sleepless night. It is hard to admit but I am nervous too.
My alarm rings at 4:30 a.m. Way too early. I take a shower to wake up but the warm water almost makes me fall back asleep. There is no way I can have breakfast at 5 in the morning.
On our way to the airport we all dwell on thoughts. No one says a word. It is quiet, all I can hear is my own breath and the car engine.
As we drive over the bridge to cross the Rhein I look back and see the Cologne cathedral. A part of me stays here and it feels good to know that I will come back.
My dad, his wife, my siblings and my mom’s friend who is a pilot meet us at the check-in of the Frankfurt airport. I am still in this dreamy bubble and have not yet realized that I will be leaving in a few hours. A little bit of breakfast for everyone, smiles for pictures and love for hugs.
Mom is so nervous, she cannot sit still. My siblings are tired and excited at the same time so they are bouncy at one moment or tired and snuggly the next. My dad, his wife and my mom’s husband are tired. My mom’s friend left a while ago to get ready for a flight to Istanbul. Me; I am still okay. It is time to say goodbye as we reach the passport control.
All of a sudden I am conflicted again. Should I really leave? Can I stay? The assistant that is going to keep me company on my way through the passport control to the plane seems impatient. I hug everyone, mom sheds a few tears and Dad looks like he has watery eyes too. I gulp back my tears. I take a deep breath, say my last goodbye, turn to my assistant, smile and leave through the barrier towards the grumpy officer that asks me for my passport. The officer gives me a scrutinizing look and hands back my passport. I am not strong enough to look back at my family so I look forward and follow the assistant through the crowd.
As we walk beside each other I do not bother to listen to the loudspeaker announcements any longer than five seconds. I bet I could write a three part novel from all the announcements that are made in a day. Luckily we walk through the more quiet halls and escape the rush. It feels good to have someone by my side who knows the airport like the back of his hand because I lost track of where we are seven minutes ago.
I do not say much; just listen to the sounds of the crowd and my own thoughts. I am half awake as I follow the assistant. I am trying to calm my nerves and it almost works.
Before I know what is happening we are at the entrance of the plane. The stewardess smiles at me as I hand my ticket to her. The assistant left with my wheelchair and my crutches. I can only hope they will arrive safe and sound in Vancouver.
I follow the stewardess through the seating rows. As I sit down in my seat all of the tension is washed away. I take a deep breath and relax. Voices appear as if they would break the surface of water. The other air travelers come on board to take their seats and join in on the journey.
The captain gives his little speech and the stewardess goes through the safety procedures as the airplane taxis to the runway and gets ready for takeoff. One seatbelt after the other clicks into place. I lean back, close my eyes, listen and calm down. The engine and turbines start, I get pushed back into my seat. The airplane moves faster and faster. I get this really funny feeling all over my body and cannot help but smile. The aeroplane tilts and we leave the ground.
This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I have never been more ready to turn this page.
I dedicate this story to Scott Bergstrome, Sheri Wakefield, Nia Williams and Liis Graham. Thank you so much for everything. Your work made every single one of my days special. I would not have been on Salt Spring without you and I would have missed out on experiences without your dedication and organisation. You guys are amazing!
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
June 17, 2014
Lucy v. K.