January 3, 2021
I want to tell you how I got here, and what I’m doing, and what’s in store. In the weeks leading up to my departure, the days passed in a blur as they often do. Time seemed to be moving exceptionally fast and I had that heightened sense of awareness for everything around me because I knew they very soon wouldn’t be.
I purged closets, I tidied drawers, I binged Ozark, I tried to speed read through books and failed. Then, suddenly, it was December 29 and I was at the airport with two suitcases and a brand new backpack.
I hugged Mommy and Papa outside. I didn’t look them in the eye; I couldn’t. I guess that was me turning away from sadness.
Anyway, I walked into the airport alone and tried to scan my passport but it wasn’t letting me check in so I spoke to the West Jet lady. I remember it sounded funny when she said my name because I haven’t heard a random person say my name in a very long time.
She told me all the flights to the UK were suspended as of December 24. The old me would have probably cried or called someone in a panic when she heard that, but I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I asked her what we could do about it and she recommended some alternative routes, like flying through Amsterdam, except I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have my negative Covid test. I spoke to the Air Canada people next and they told me about a flight that flew from Vancouver – Toronto – London that left in 1.5 hours. They also told me I’d have to quarantine in London since it wasn’t possible to travel within the UK anymore. Well, I booked the flight, I went through security, found my gate, and looked up London hotels.
The plane took off. I watched Jojo Rabbit and cried at all the mother-son scenes, especially the happy ones. I also cried at the quote ‘Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final’ by Rainer Maria Rilke because it made me think of everything I felt this year and gave me hope.
I got to London at 8:30 in the morning and found my way to Terminal 5. It was hard to be in London, even for a little while. Memories and all that. But I got through it, as you do.
The Air Canada people must have been misinformed – as people often are – as I was able to buy a ticket to Edinburgh on the spot. (This is why you can’t believe everything people tell you). 1.5 hours later I was en route to Scotland. The security lady said I had to fit all my liquids into the plastic bag but one item didn’t fit. ‘I wouldn’t throw away my lippy if I was you,” she said. “You can buy another hand sanitizer anywhere.” So I sacrificed my safety for beauty.
There was snow on the ground when I arrived which was delightful. It looked and felt like a fresh start. I took the 100 bus and got off at Princes street to transfer to the No 16. But first I had to run into Boots to buy soap because I needed change for the bus since my credit card wasn’t working for reasons unknown.
I got off the bus at St. Anthony’s Place. My roommate met me there and we walked to the flat which had a blue door. It was surrounded by all these other doors that had pots of flowers and various plants in front of them but I tried not to be bothered by first impressions.
We were on the top floor of a spiral staircase. There was no elevator, of course. So heaving and hoing, I dragged my suitcase up the flights and found myself in front of a firetruck red door. My room has a view of cobbled streets, and mountains, and basically everything I ever wanted. There’s a desk right by the window, too, which I think is the perfect spot for a desk.
I hung dresses onto empty clothes hangers, neatly folded sweaters and jeans to tuck them into drawers, and placed my lone book, Les Belles Images, on the shelf. I hung my bags on hooks on the back of the door, put my toiletries in the bathroom. And when my suitcases were empty, I placed them on top of the wardrobe and then moved them underneath the bed because that seemed like a better spot.
My room! A bed, a wardrobe, a desk, a drawer, an empty bookshelf, a mirror, a rug, a chair.
There is something special about completing a long and arduous journey, and finally putting away the last of your things, and looking around your new space. I stood on the bed, I lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling, I poked my head out the window, I opened and closed cupboards for no reason. I got that feeling…you know the one? It feels warm, like a blanket. Safe and secure too.
It’s the feeling of arriving home.