June 2, 5:45pm
Six hours ago I was running back and forward between my moms room and mine searching for what more id possibly need and removing the unnecessary luxuries from my suitcases–extra tights, bottles of conditioner, my favourite yet ridiculously heavy journal, sneakers–all left behind for the sake of ease and simplicity. In truth i was thinking 1) i don’t want to have to be responsible for all this stuff and 2) I don’t want to look like Im loaded with goodies. Even though I was desperately trying to minimize the load, In the end i did opt on having two suitcases, not necessarily because i needed both but because im expecting to purchase worlds most glamorous djembe, and i wanted to be able to travel back with it securely. I left home after taking my millionth survey of my room, making sure no must have items were left behind, after a few anxious looks from momsie and some last minute to do’s for my aunt, we were off! (half and hour later than we had planned, but hallelujah off none the less!)
In the car I was going through my usual airplane check list. Its the one that I do in my head to avoid setting off alarms–passport?check, debit card?check, flight actually booked? check, is today the right day?yes. check. MERCY. Everything felt right, normal and was falling into place.
Once I got to the airport Jeff was waiting there for me to give me the gifts he had for Johan and his family. It was amazing for me to think this man has a solid connection with someone, some people, some place that I had yet to even experience. I thought about the memories he must have and the friendships he shared with folks in Saint Helenas Bay and it made me feel even more excited for my arrival. How would I be received? What would be my first impression of the community, the people, the landscape, the weather, the food? I dont know these answers, and its fantastic to think that. It was during that short conversation with Jeff that I realized, rather remembered, that Im once again in the ‘before’ and this time it feels different. Im more prepared to receive this journey, but not over analyze it, im more interested in being myself, and not a student or a researcher, im more aware of human constructions, but not willing to bow down to them. As Keisha Monique taught me on one sweet bus ride: “take what you can use from every experience, and leave the rest”. Thats what I plan on doing. Ill let you know how that plan works out ;).
The airplane scene
something about being in the bucket seat of an airplane always makes me want to write. This first trip (TO to Amsterdam) is about 6 hours and some change. The plane itself is a three rower, fairly large, with inviting colors that make you want to stay just a little bit longer than a flight. Outside is warm and dry, and with the sun embracing so unapologetically, it makes my little awkward window seat seem like its giving my departure its full blessing. We hit the runway right on time and began our journey south, over the baby city of TO, towards the lake, all the while soaring through, above and beyond the clouds. The pilot came over the waves and told us to look out for scenery. Clearly, i immediately fell in love. Toronto and her suburbs looked like a crazy snakes and ladders game. With its ridged, winding matrix of residential roads, highways and clunky concrete buildings its certainly a different place than the tropics. Even so Im always glad to be able to see the departing and arriving landscapes. Luckily, I selected my seats a few weeks in advance so i had the prime choice of choosing the window seat (the exact same window seat actually) for every single flight ( thats 4 x 33J, in case you’re curious ). Right now the flight is only an hour into its course and we have already been offered drinks, given roasted almonds and served hot wet cloths for our fingers. Damn, European airlines have certainly got it going on. As much as Im feeling this flight attendent-passenger love fest, Im not ignorant to The irony of travelling in such luxury on a Dutch airline to a township in South Africa. I got to say its deep. I’m returning to my Nelson Mandela autobiography, I got to get more in tune with the context Im soon going to be immersed in. end scene 6:46pm.
Luxury Gone Wrong 10:15pm
Its the eleventh hour (i dont know why shows say that or what it really means but hot damn, it feels right right now!). My feet are swollen, my body is cramped, Im peckish but too shy to inconvenience my mildly unfriendly seat mate for help retrieving my snack from the overhead, the woman at the end of the row seems to prefer sleeping with her entire body blocking the only way out, the flight attendent-passenger relationship has gone astray, my window seat long lost its charm, im trapped in the belly of a flying bird from which i have no escape. (inside voice, mini scream) AHHH! Props to homeboy from the Bible who got out of that whale, baby boy i feel you. What a feeling. I’m a mess and the worst part is the “remaining flight time” number hasnt changed since before i went to sleep when it also said “03:39″. okay sister, pause. breath. reread the gems you wrote earlier and remind yourself for one that it is a privilege to be here, the work you are going to do is important, what you are about to experience is necessary for your life’s story and every journey requires a path to walk. This particular path just happens to include a 6 hour frozen vertical semi fetal position yoga pose from hell. To avoid blog induced worry for any readers, Ive etched a plan! Here’s what Im going to do: Im going to do what I would tell someone else to do if put in this situation then Im going to come back and tell you how it felt. ehhem..Here, ladies, gents and gender non-conformist, are a few ideas for what you can do the next time you are in this position. Lets call it the escape plan for WHEN LUXURY GOES WRONG (yes. that was purposely dramatic).
Step 1. Figure out what you have control over and make a decision if changing or manipulating any of those things can help how you’re feeling. For example I have control over my physical position, the movie I choose to watch, whether or not I ask for help with my suitcase, when I go to the washroom etc.
*pause.. was that the captain who just walked past!? Now excuse my divergence but Jesus take the wheel! Lets hold down step 1 for now i got to monitor this captain walking situation.
11:20pm Toronto time, 5:15am Amsterdam
So I decided to work through step number one and I walked over to the washroom. By the time I came back they had served breakfast. And I opened my window and the sun had risen and it was morning. Wow. Let me see if I can remember how that works, I’ve crossed some latitudinal line and all time is reversed and now I’m in bizarro land. Haha, that last sentence was the worst thing to say out loud to my seat mate, whose response was ” no, I think we’re okay”. We’ve become time travellers, i say, and poop at that i’ve missed an entire nights sleep. Here’s the thing though, if I can stay awake throughout the Toronto night and sleep regular time in my new time zone, life will be crisp once I land in Cape Town. So Im doing just that. This friends is the new plan and the official beginning of my trip to Africa. Whoa. I got to take that in…