GATE 54

Gatwick Airport.

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While I waited for the date to go back to Jamaica; I delved into my course at college.  I was more focused academically and I was surprised at how easy I found the course. Even more surprising was that I had left school without any qualifications. It was empowering to receive compliments from the teachers, and it was a great difference to my wayward days in school. This time I welcomed the lessons and became a model student.

Academically, it appeared that I had somehow retained all that my father had taught me whilst being home educated in Jamaica; as well as the little that I had learnt in the short time at high school. My confidence was growing each time that my teacher would use my work as a demonstration to the class.

Yes, I had manage to work myself up and take myself out of the gutter, even from a young age I knew I was not going to be a statistic and I certainly was not going to rely on state handouts and I tried hard to maintain some dignity.

Looking back, D very rarely gave me money in my hand unless I asked for it, and this was a rare occurrence, but he would provide shopping, and what the children needed. It was as if we both lived separate  lives  whilst living together; what was mine was mines and vice versa.

We lived each day as if  in slow motion just journeying through,  but of course I preformed my duties.  It was as if I was so programmed to do what I thought my duties were. D had his family and a small amount of friends but he didn’t really see them much apart from family functions; during this time his best friend was his bottle of alcohol.

For  me the word  family was still an unhealthy obsession. I still desperately wanted to belong, although I was still unsure what belonging actually meant. I had spent most of my life with the idea  but somehow I never quite manage to make it;  maybe it was because I was trying too hard especially as each time I formed a bond with someone they made it clear somehow that I was not family.

It was as if the attachment I formed were just momentarily,  this was by simple things that was said or jokes that were made. In my mind it felt as if friends were siding with each other. I y was as if they could read my mind and knew how lonely I felt. I recall times when friends would make jokes with me being the target although they could be perceived as *normal everyday fun*  it affected me when they were laughing at me; or even laughing about me for some reason it always made me feel more alone. But, I never said.

For others it was a harmless piece of fun; it’s funny how simple words spoken can affect others, without us realizing.

l  always found it difficult to work out if people were being  deliberate, or if I was just overly sensitive. I did notice though that  each time a comment or joke was made in relation to family my stomach would tie into knots. So clearly something was still missing.

People didn’t realize though that as result of their actions forming a sibling bond between my children  was my ultimate goal in raising them.  I was determined that they would always remain close. It was a common courtesy in our home that if they had one sweet they would have to share. The family loyalty was a strong ethos of their growing up and my children knew that. This was the one thing that my heart desired, that they would never know how it felt to be alone, or to feel they needed strangers to be happy. At today’s date I feel I have achieved that.

I  had noticed  of late that although there was a longing, I no longer had the passion I once had to belong, but I was now focused on wanting my children to have the family that I didn’t have; and as I sat back deep in thoughts, I realized despite the passion to return to Jamaica and bring back my siblings; I was not really fighting for myself anymore but for my children.

I continued to work at the residential home until it was time to fly out to Jamaica. My book was written with all the household bills to pay and a financial tracking of what spending should take place each week. This included their pocket-money. I did thoroughly enjoy planning my trip down to the finest detail.   D still had no idea I was going away for two months and I wasn’t going to let him know either, well, after I was safely in Jamaica.

 

My cousin and I communicated most of the time about our excitement of going to Jamaica alone, we talked about the fun we would have and for me this spelled freedom.

The week arrived and it was time to leave.

Traveling to Gatwick airport in UK, was absolutely exciting and having said goodbye to the children. I selfishly couldn’t wait to go. The child in me wanted this freedom more than anything something I never really had from a young  age. I was always a mother from the age of fifteen so for me this excitement was well overdue. so off we went.

My neighbour came with us to Gatwick and waited while we checked our baggage.  We had bought with us two very large hand luggage, but that didn’t stop us as the smell of food   mingled in  the air. The popular saying was Jamaicans always carried a lot of things. I had already sent down two large barrels for my brothers and sisters with food and clothes toys and books so by right we did not need a hand luggage. But we still crammed all we could into  medium sized  holdalls.

Well having had our lunch and said goodbye to my neighbour my cousin and I decided to walk around duty-free. As we was about to go into one of the shops. We heard an announcement. It was quite muffled at first but on listening again I was certain our names were being called.

” Will Mrs A B and C (,meaning us and another) Please make your way to GATE 54. The plane is about to leave”

My cousin and I both looked at each other when we realized it was us, and as in panic mode we came out the shop and ran up the stairs with our hand luggage.  we had no idea where we were heading although common sense told us that we need to head to the left of the terminal.   We were currently at GATE 63… On the ground floor which was level 1.

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We ran up the second floor up  some more stairs until we reached the moving walkway. There was the announcement again.. Looking back at my cousin who was on the large side and with a very large hand luggage it seemed impossible to reach GATE 54 Panic set in, anxiety set in and although my cousin was running. She did not know how I felt inside it wasn’t just about missing our flight. In my mind I would not see my family, I would lose the money I had saved so hard for and worse  I would not be able to travel again for a long time. my chest felt as if it was on fire, my friend anxiety was back.

I needed to fly, I was going to reach the plane by any means necessary.

I started to run again up another flight of stairs constantly looking back for my cousin. Who was trying to tell me to give up. The other lady was also running and although she was behind me she was far away but just in front of my cousin. Now there were the three of us running, huffing and puffing and ironically all three of us had heavy hand luggage. What seemed like ages we arrived at GATE 58, This was a disaster. My chest was aching and my legs were tired but I was determined to reach.

I couldn’t understand why  GATE 54 was so far away. By now my chest was tight and      burning more as I tried to catch oxygen. The other lady gave up and turned back she couldn’t run any further. I kept running towards the desk my cousin could hardly be seen in the distance but I knew once they got my paperwork they would wait so I fumbled for my passport and boarding pass giving my cousin more time.

“Please my cousin is coming”, I said. as I reached the entry with an angry smiling air hostess. Then the funniest thing happened my cousin and I still laugh about this until today. She grabbed the heavy hand luggage and with a strength that I never knew existed she throw it over the barriers towards me.

Yes… This was how we started our journey to Jamaica.

I recalled walking into the plane embarrassed to sit down. Only to be told a few minutes later that someone had dropped a Camera. Yes guess who? It was mine and so I had to get up again shame face and pass all the other passengers to reclaim the camera.

Despite this our plane was delayed for another hour because the other passenger who had decided she could not go anymore had to have her luggage taken off the plane.

Once all this was over. Our flight took off, leaving all my troubles behind. We were on our way to Jamaica.

I finally felt at peace,  I felt calm and free. My cousin and I spoke about meeting our brothers again and my sisters and father. We watched a movie in flight and I smiled to my cousin as we drifted off to sleep.

After nine hours on flight…

We arrived at Kingston airport…and following a lengthy drive in a cab, I was taken to my aunt’s house. As it was late evening when we arrived there wasn’t much to do apart from get ready for bed and prepare to face the next day.   Sleep came easy but
as with everything else in my life, there was always some disaster waiting to happen.

I know now that this journey to Jamaica was the beginning of another twist in my life..It was preparing me for another one of life’s most  painful lessons, what I didn’t know at the time was how painful it was going to be.

 

 

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