Your mission, should you choose to accept: Cross the Atlantic on your own. LOL.February 25, 2012
"Right. Well. I can't go any further now, you're on your own."
I was biting down on my passport and boarding card so tightly inbetween my teeth that dad had to prise them out slowly, while my eyes were fixed on the security archways, like I was a teething baby. Up until that point, everything had been fine. I'd checked in fine, sent my suitcase off, answered "WINDOW!!1!!!1!1!" before the check in girl had even finished her seat preference question. Now, dad was yabbering away with "Text mum when you're on the plane. Actually, text her when you're through security, then sitting down in the lounge, then walking to the gate. She's your mum. I'm surprised she hasn't phoned to ask if you got up these escalators okay." I wasn't really listening. I was focusing more on the lack of saliva in my mouth, lips looking like they'd been fighting a cheese grater, and sweaty palms, smearing the ink on the boarding card. Now I didn't know whether I was in seat 23 or 38.
"I thought I'd booked a plane, not a tube! Haha! HAHAHAHAHA! Ah." The woman manning the new security gate just stared at me, chewing gum, with a look of 'bitch that's the 8th time I've heard that joke just this morning now leave' on her ever drooping face. I was hysterical. My emotions had gone haywire, and if no one was finding me funny in England then I had no hope in Canada. "REMEMBER TO EMAIL WHEN YOU GET THERE!" dad called, before I was directed into a line and people blocked my view behind me. Then he was gone. I was now totally alone and, somehow, had to get over the Atlantic by myself.
"Shoes off." Rude. Please and a smile would be nice. The archway had bleeped and a woman frisked me like a dog with two penises (that's the first simile that came to me, i'm really sorry). But she really did frisk me and I was glad I'd put my best fitting bra on. By the time I'd made it to the lounge, I felt rather exposed so went and bought a load of chocolate and handcream. My hands were flaking and I genuinely thought someone would think I had a disease and subsequently not let me on the plane. Turns out, putting handcream on incredibly dry hands isn't the best thing to do. They turned a shocking red colour, accompanied by a screaming rash and I swear to God they were vibrating. What the bloody hell was I meant to do now? I sat in the lounge, a quizzical expression staring at these anthropomorphised hands, and said "Oh dear.", acquiring the attention of the woman next to me who also adopted the quizzical expression. They effing hurt! No time to ask for help though, because my flight was called. I was now a flakey, rashy, chapped, dry, sweaty disaster. This wasn't starting to feel like such a good idea after all.
Thankfully by the time I was at the gate, my hands stopped their screaming and calmed down. They'd realised I was only trying to help them. I phoned my nan, who made me go through the brace position with her and what to do if my toes got too cold in Canada. I phoned mum, who wanted to know the demographic of my flight. I phoned Megan, who gave me strict instructions for capturing Justin Bieber, and I was going to phone others before the man next to me did a massive sigh so I thought better of it. Excitement took over fear now. I bloody love planes, and had a perfect window seat by the wing of the plane. I could see the flappy bits come out and the wind against the metal, looking like the monster bin in Monster Cafe. I'm glad you understand what I'm talking about. Just before we took off, a man on a crane sprayed green liquid all over the wings. I have never seen that before but it's obviously necessary so I gave him a massive grin and enthusiastic thumbs up. Unlike gum woman, he actually responded, in typical British fashion with a tight smile and short nod. Success.
I was proud of myself for not constantly manically hitting the woman next to me as we were taking off, like I would have done with mum, reminding her that "WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING FASTER FASTER FASTER SCREAM WE'RE IN THE AIR I'M FLYING SCREAM HIGHER HAHAHA OW MY EARS HAHA MAKE IT STOP NO SERIOUSLY." Although I MAY have done, because I'm adamant she was poking and prodding me on purpose as I tried to sleep in the most awkward position. I woke up with my mouth open, face planted against my engraved cased phone...yep...which was now indented on my cheek. This was going WELL. My full page drawing of different sized circles, and bark laughs at watching Happy Feet on my phone, didn't really evoke the best of me and the woman did at one point ask if I was okay, with a slight head tilt and eyebrow raise. I muttered "Fine thanks" as tears streamed down my indented cheeks, and I wiped them away with my slightly rashy hands.
The annoying woman did come in handy, however, as we had to fill out our Canadian declaration forms before landing. If I'd have been left to my own devices, I would have said I was born on the 93rd September in 2009, making me a smart 2 year old making virtuous errors with nice handwriting. I had to really think about my nationality, am I English or British? Do I have animals in my luggage? How long am I staying here for again? I almost wrote H O P E L E S S as my name. But I did it, and we landed, and all I had to do now was get through tight customs, get my case, and find my auntie.
I waited at customs for over an hour.
Over an hour.
I didn't have WiFi.. I'd run out of water. I'd run out of chocolate. My feet hurt. It was hot. I was BORED. I watched the customs lady interrogate our flight like we'd committed murders whilst illegally downloading films onto stolen laptops at the same time. By the time I got there, I'd formulated answers to every possible question she could throw at me. "Have you ever caused harm to another human being?" "Matt punched me first." "Do you have any plans to take large quantities of food through?" "Our chocolate is better than yours." "What are your plans for the immediate future?" "Get through your questioning then eat said chocolate." But in reality all she asked me was, "Who are you staying with?" and I growled an answer of "My aundee" because I hadn't spoken in a long time and my mouth was still dry. I legged it before she could rethink my poor existence.
My suitcase has a red strap with my name on (thanks mum), so it's always easy to spot. So I stood, and I waited. People arrived, people left. The belt emptied. I waited. After 20 minutes, I was sure my suitcase was lost. There was one suitcase that went past me three times, identical to mine. But it didn't have the red strap. So it wasn't mine. "Are, are there any more to, er, come out?" I stuttered to an airport employee who cheerfully said "Nope!" before asking how I was and where I was from and "YOU'RE ADORABLE!" and I was definitely in Canada now. Turns out, if a case looks like yours and hasn't been picked up after the fourth time it's been round, IT'S BLOODY YOURS. My strap was lost/stolen/smart by finding a new sane owner, but I had everything now. I ran towards Arrivals where my auntie was waiting with a flashing camera, and collapsed on her repeating "I did it. I bloody did it."
Because I did. I got to Canada by myself. I was, officially, a clever, independent, adventurous, confident woman.