How to Cope with Missing the Holidays…

So I’m depressed about missing Christmas, not so much spending it at home as much as spending it with people who want to spend it celebrating and truly enjoying the company of the friends their. But no one here with whom I’m ‘close’ is interested in Christmas. So I’ve been shedding tears here and there as I try to finish assignments for tomorrow.

(Cried twice about missing Independence day this year and last.) But Christmas is bigger, and this is my first year missing it. Last year, I spent it with a few missionaries, and friends who were interested in the cultural exchange. But I didn’t feel as though I have that sort of connection with anyone here. I’m friendly with people, but I dish out the confirmed status of friend to any Joe so…

Without Christmas (25 December) New Year’s is irrelevant. Celebrating it on another day is….like celebrating a birthday on the wrong date. (I only celebrate on the day, never a minute before or after). Anyway the point is, having googled how to get over missing a holiday and found this post. Firstly, I’m pleased that I’m not the only one who gets sad about missing holidays. And secondly, the tips are helpful…I’m exactly on this journey…different country…language…..major….but the same course of life all the same. I don’t feel 100% better but good enough to continue my tasks dry-eyed.

Every Student Has A Story

Rockefeller_Center_Tree

I am the epitome of Christmas-lover.

 I start listening to Christmas music by early October, I watch as many Christmas movies as possible, (unless I am at school), I partake in my family’s tree-decorating tradition (also, started by me) and invite my family/friends over to help decorate the beautiful evergreen the sits in my living room. I love to drink warm, holiday-spice tea while watching the snow fall to the ground. Christmas calls for more quality-family time, and my family, steps aside from their busy schedules, to cook, bake, watch Christmas movies, and wrap presents.

 Can you say Crazy Christmas Girl? I think so…

I do not think anyone could have imagined me being away from home and missing/skipping Christmas. Well, this year I kind-of-am…

I get home from Israel on January 8, 2015, which means I missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Honestly, I can deal with…

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Getting a Dorm: The Russian Leg

So I’d flown across the Atlantic Ocean from Antigua, landed in London at Gatwick Airport, bussed to Heathrow and flew out of London after 10 hours. After 4 hours I was in Moscow where I waited another 6 hours before flying to Krasnoyarsk.

Krasnoyarsk

The city of Krasnoyarsk at 7pm in mid-October wasn’t to me it’s lovely self that I came to know during the 8 months I lived there. I stepped into the night and descended the flight of stairs. As my foot fell on the earth, I surveyed it. The buildings were far in the distance and I was unsure if I was required to walk the stretch.

A bus stood before me. Was it for the VIPs? Or could I pile on with the other humans? I just didn’t know. It was cold. I couldn’t just stand there trying to figure this out. I got onto the little bus, sat, and waited to be told to remove myself from the vehicle. I wasn’t disturbed. More humans piled in, the doors closed. And we were taken to the building and offloaded.

As I had learned to do so well I followed the human breadcrumbs through baggage collection and out into the parking lot.I wasn’t sure if I should’ve been standing in the parking lot or waiting inside. But I hadn’t seen anyone who looked like they were waiting for me. So I continued walking in the cold, ignoring the looks of taxi drivers trying to silently ply their trade.

I had stared at the image of the gal who would be collecting me from the airport for quite some time. But I still couldn’t conjure a decent image of her to which I could compare the faces parading before me. I searched the eyes of my fellow space sharers. None were too interested in me. They all had their own business, and went about doing them. I arrived at the curb of a road  and stood. She was walking along the sidewalk beckoning to me. Eagerly I put the last efforts I had into pulling the large, heavy luggage behind me as I balanced my coats and laptop bag. Moments before the weight had been insignificant, but now it was weighing on my arms.

I followed the Russian girl, Nina, to her car. It felt like forever, but finally we there and stuffing ourselves and my bags into it. The car was warm and welcoming. We sat silently with the purring engine as it shook us with its warm hug. Within seconds it would be become apparent that our ability to communicate was restricted. But for the moment we enjoyed the heat and, shelter from the cold.

And then she began.

Nina wanted to know where I was going, and where I would be staying, and if I knew who I would be meeting. At this point I don’t know how I understood half of what I understood. But nonetheless let’s just insert “Thank God!” right here because what follows is nothing short of a miracle.

At home, I had been informed that a fellow Antiguan would meet Tiffany, the other student with whom I had been travelling, in Moscow. However, I would have to find my way on my own. I had been told that the workers in and around the airport spoke English. Hence I wouldn’t have any problems. But I worry as a way of keeping calm. So I asked, and asked so’more, and then asked if the guy in Moscow might know someone in Krasnoyarsk.

Hallejuyah! Thank You, Jesus! He knew someone!

Now, if we are to get into the dynamics of “knowing”someone this could get complicated. In the simplest of words they were online acquaintances, not friends, acquaintances. But this young lady decided that she would assist by picking me up from the airport after 7pm mid-October.

She knew the least amount of English words, and the same could be said for me as well. I had tried to learn sentences in Russian like: I’m hungry; and Where’s the toilet? You know…survival stuff. 😉 But I didn’t need either in this situation. The only important bit that was certain was that I was headed to Siberian Federal University to study. So Nina pulled the car unto the road and headed in that direction. At that time I didn’t know this, and it took some time for it to be communicated.

According to the usual proceeding in a case such as mine, the receiving university would be notified of the arrival time, send someone to pick up the student and deliver them to their room. That sounds so simple and perfect. I didn’t receive simple, because the university administration hadn’t been informed of when I would be arriving, but thankfully I got the perfect.

Having finally come to the understanding that we were going towards the university, the task of explaining who we would be going to ensued. First their was a worded explanation, which was completely lost on me. Then a mime was added to the explanation and I came to the understanding that we were headed to see Nina’s fiance with whom she was presently in a fight. She managed to explain that he spoke English. He was the only person she knew who spoke English, and so we headed there without calling. If she called, he would ignore it.

Where were we really going?

We were going to the university Nina had implied, but she had also mimed that we were headed to the English-speaking fiance. At the time I didn’t know but they were one and the same. The little lady and her beau were past and present students of the university (respectively), and the latter was still living on-campus. And so on we went.

The drive was a long one, made slightly longer by the extreme traffic jam. Work had ended an hour before so you can imagine the amount of cars lined behind one another simply waiting for a jolt forward by their predecessors. Nina is the friendly type, so as we made our way behind the other mobile snails she told me various things while pantomiming, and driving. It was interesting and taxing at the same time. And I really don’t know how Nina kept it going while maintaining her chipper disposition. But all in all her positivity kept me feeling rather optimistic.

After some time the lines of traffic dissipated and we were cruising. The road was massive. I had had this thought earlier as we were pantomiming but now in the silence and the lack of vehicles I could see it more clearly….and the buildings! They were so big, so tall, towering. I felt as though I was on a magnificent evening tour…like a kid in a shop with really big, beautiful candy that had never been seen before. I didn’t want to eat them, but simply to stare at them in awe forever. My eyes bounced from left to right as I tried to consume everything.

Siberian Federal University Campus

We turned off the main road into a darker section sparsely filled with tall buildings.  We wound around a few buildings, jumped out the car, and climbed the steps into one of the dorms.

Nina spoke to the guard for a short while. She referred to my presence by turning towards me so that the elderly man could get a view then they continue their parley. She for my passport as she gave an ID of hers to the guard. We were let through, and the guard removed himself from his small office and made his way with us to the dorm of the lad.

Nina knocked on the door several times. There was no answer. We became uncertain about if it was the right room. And at that moment the door was opened. The English-speaking fiance, who was actually a former boyfriend, a Nigerian, stepped out speaking Russian as he greeted the guard and to Nina in an irritated tone.

The breakup had apparently been tumultuous to the point where they were not on speaking terms. Both had informed me that Jeremiah would not have picked up if Nina had called. They both seemed like alright human beings in their own right. But you know, love/romance changes things.

I was extremely gratefully that neither had allowed their broken relationship to hinder their ability to assist a complete stranger. At the time, the bizarreness of the situation didn’t register but looking back I can’t help but think: How many people would go to the extent of going to an exes home for a stranger; How many persons would solicit the help of acquaintances to help a stranger and despised ex? It would be a tad difficult for me on either side. But these two did it with open hearts and in earnest.

Jeremiah greeted me with an open smile.

My story was relayed to him, and he began the act of finding whether I should be there, and finding the necessary individual to assist in my situation. To find this individual, or rather the number of the individual, the help of other foreign students was enlisted as doors opened to find the reason for the noise in their hall.

Finally, a Chinese student, Qi, produce the number after asking several friends online. The call was made. Jeremiah translated as he asked questions and relayed my information back to the administrator on the phone. He asked for my documents which stated that I should be there, relayed his findings to the administrator, then we waited.

is post. Nina stood to the side staring out the night. I stood in the hall hungry, a bit anxious,and feeling a bit filthy as I conversed first with Qi, and Jeremiah. Finally, Jeremiah’s phone rang, and he was given instructions about where I should go. Nina, her ex, and I made our way out of the building and to her car. I collected my things, and we said our goodbyes.

Jeremiah, helped me with my language, and we made our way up the slope and into the dorm I would be living in for the next several months. He exchanged words with an elderly lady who had been waiting for us. She escorted us to the room. Jeremiah gave me a tour of the two-room dorm, asked about what I’d like to eat for dinner, so that he could get it for me. Then left me to myself.

I was tired, and besides the cup of orange juice I’d been offered by him some time earlier I hadn’t eaten an actual meal (excluding airplane food) since I left home. However, the feeling that pervaded my very being was one of filth. Everything felt strange, and I felt to dirty to actually be there.  The only thing I could really think of doing was taking a bath.So I did.

THAT CANNOT BE THE END OF THE STORY! It’s not but you’ll have to wait for next week for another installation…

The Writer is Here: The Russian Leg

I’m still here.

You’d think I’d disappeared. But I’m still here, offline but here. I’ve been existing majorly in the real world and enjoying to some extent the pleasure of interacting, of being busy with other human beings: sailing; hiking; learning to cook Russian dishes; going on excursions. But I am returning.

I haven’t written anything in along while and I have a lot to say. I could tell my stories to folks around, or keep them to myself. But writing to you always makes me feel better, as if I the big old world got help from an insignificant being such as I. Also I’ve began to miss the online world of the freedom I came to know at 15 years old.

 

I’ll be here.

I’ll be here with stories from Russia for the next 4 years. Because the world is too small for you not to know what’s happening…NO I will not be writing any sort of news, but rather everyday stuff. Like meeting Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, Chinese, Americans, Vietnamese, Norwegians, Slovaks, Brits, Bulgarians, Mongolians in classes, on the street, in hostels, and restaurants, and just about everywhere.

 

Why write about it?

Well, haven’t you been taught that Russia is under the dome? Of secrecy, silence, and hate? Who knows..it might be, right? But why not experience it before using that brush.

 

Why now?

I’ve been in Russia since last October (2015), and I am alive and unharmed, and absolutely no one has tried to harm me in anyway humanly possible. However, when I went looking for stories about blacks in Russia, I found largely the same content I’d found before moving with even more recent uploads by the same naysayers who might have deterred me coming.

For some reason, unknownst to even me, I thought there would be a lot more positivity  or better yet neutrality online, but I haven’t found it.

 

When will I begin?

Tomorrow you will be graced with the story of my first night in Russia. And that’s all for today. You know me…tomorrow’s piece will be a mouthful.

Until tomorrow…

Time to say good bye and спасибо большое!

I felt rather envious of Sarah, and hope that you find this post, and the blog as enticing as I have.

My Siberian story

IMG_5611.JPGComing to Russia as an EVS volunteer was a big challenge for me… I didn’t know the language and was not sure about what to expect exactly. To not make things easier, I didn’t choose to go to Moscow or a city located in the western part of the country, but instead, to go in the middle of Siberia, to KRASNOYARSK! (it took me a while to remember and be able to pronounce the name of my new home!)

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Getting to Russia: London

After writing a few thousand words in what could have been two or three posts it seems I forgot to include the departure and arrival destinations. My editor of course didn’t notice as she’s had to endure the torture of reading everything which could have been a post. I realized that the destination points (yes, plural) had been left out when replying to one of your comments. (Thank you for reading and giving your feedback as well.)

My itinerary looked a bit like this:

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

London (Heathrow – T5) –> Moscow
Oct 12 2015
2150 – 0340 (0350)

Moscow –> Krasnoyarsk
Oct 13 2015
1010 – 0650 (0440)

For the first time in my life I was not in the Caribbean.

I was walking into another airport: Gatwick Airport. And again the air was cold, and the lights were bright and white. The personality of this building was a stiff one. She was icy and unsmiling. As I moved through her hall and into the large cavity of her reception area it became warmer, but never more pleasant. We made our way to the line for non-nationals. We were silent in spirit and it felt as though everyone else was too. Our turn came to approach the counter. It was quick. We answered the questions about if we were together, where we were headed, and what we would be doing there. Then we were sent on our way. We felt our way to the baggage section holding onto the sight of other passengers and signs.

The bubbling had ceased.

My thoughts were on finding the bags. That was everything. In this moment, it was the most important thing. There was a certain feeling about her, the place, as if one could exist without existing. I didn’t feel anything. I saw a lot but none of it connected with me. It wasn’t cold on the skin, but in heart. The mass of people searching for their own belongings was most potent. They were all doing the same thing some more human than others. Nonetheless the atmosphere possessed the chill of familiarity and distance wherein we only speak to the people we know. Everyone else seems to exist and despite the fact that we see them, we don’t ever see them. This was the same. Finally we saw our luggage making its way towards us on the belt. After surveying the area for trolleys we found them lined and latched. We could use them for about a pence. Unfortunately, we only had USD. For a short moment we considered exchanging currency,but that would have been more trouble that it was worth.

We found an even colder place beyond the doors.

It was icy. Winds slapped our faces quickly and fiercely. Despite the fact that we were willing to join him he didn’t address his rage. He didn’t stop as we walked into his Fury looking for our…not final but intermediate destination. He didn’t stop as we stood in the cold waiting for our bus. He continued to bombard us as we stood with him. This was my first encounter with real cold. (According to the accuweather.com it was between 15 to 8 degrees.) I was 25 year old girl who spent her entire life in Paradise, Land of Sun, Sea, and Sand: http://www.visitantiguabarbuda.com/. It is generally 25 degrees, the sun is generally shining and you have 365 beaches. The winds are generally soft kisses. Paradise this is my home everything that I knew. And to my first encounter my first real encounter my first face-to-face encounter with another country was a chilly one at best.

But that did nothing to dampen my spirits.

The autumn jacket I had pulled on didn’t seem to be doing anything. I was stressed and anxious. I didn’t know if the bus had arrived. I didn’t know if we were at the right spot for our pickup. This was my anxious brain at work. However, you should know the time had not yet arrived for the bus to pickup its passengers and according to the ticket which I held in my hand and the sun which was at the designated spot. I knew I was in the right place, with time before the buses arrival.

The bus arrived on time.

We fished our tickets out and noticed that the crowd had multiplied and was overflowing like a frothing beaker. The majority would miss this bus. We inched our way out of the crowd and made our way around the edge and to the front. Then we stood with our tickets visible. The bus was almost full, and its belly, packed with bags was almost there as well as the driver twisted and turn various bags to arrange, and rearrange so others could fit. The bus conductor took our tickets, noting that we were students, and the bus driver placed our bags into the belly of the bus. We mounted the large beast and sat at his rear.

It was warm, and lovely.

This was the most comfortable experience of the trip. It had been my intention to see as much as I could on the hour-long trip. But after several minutes of the same scenery in addition to the warm comfort we were asleep. I woke intermittently to ensure we got off at the designated spot. After some time the driver made an announcement informing us that we were nearing the drop-off point. I woke Tiffaney. And then we poured out of the bus along with other passengers into a puddle as we waited for our bags to be extracted.

We stood for a short while at our drop point.

Then we made our way into Heathrow Airport after clumsily waking about outside trying to find the entrance. To our redemption, the sitting area was in view as soon as we entered. I logged the airport’s wifi, googled for a map, and located all of the necessaries: bathroom; food; check in points.

We remained there for the next ten hours. Most of the time was spent watching others go back and forth. This was also our first experience shopping (for groceries) in Europe, and we were both shocked that consumers have to pay for their shopping bags. Besides that were was nothing particularly eventful.

We checked in with some talk of over weight luggage, repacking, and payment. Then we were in the departure lounge. We changed a sum of our US to rubles, browsed a bit and then went to the sitting area we were able to board our flight in a relatively quick time, and this time around I was less clumsy in finding my seat.

And then we were in the air heading to Russia.

See you next Tuesday…in Russia. 🙂

Getting to Russia: Leaving Home Pt.2

Passport.

Ticket.

Boarding pass.

Checked twice.

And then me.

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

London (Heathrow – T5) –> Moscow
Oct 12 2015
2150 – 0340 (0350)

Moscow –> Krasnoyarsk
Oct 13 2015
1010 – 0650 (0440)

I cannot truly explain the luxury of being clumsy on the outside as well as on the inside. But I will try. Going through security…was nothing, but it was also very much like being tortured. First, I had to locate security…which was immediately to the front (my right) and then figure out the maze to getting there…which it turned out was just a few long lines going this way and that until the exit which was the maximum of 10 feet away.

I was confident, or at least I was pretending be, on the inside. After hoisting my carry-on onto the belt surface, detaching my jackets and placing them in a plastic tray, I placed my overly stuffed laptop bag up as well. And then I turned my thoughts to watching Tiffaney go through the process so that I could feel less ignorant. But I couldn’t.

“Please place all devices in the trays.
“Do I have to take my laptop out of the bag.”
“Yes. If you have any devices in your bags or in your pockets, place them in the tray.”
“Okay.”

I had stuffed my bag in a very neat and organized way: wires here; adapters there; books to that side; tablets in one pouch; phones in the outer sides; laptop and all important documents at the center; and chocolate bars and cakes tightly packed into whatever spaces were left. And now I would have to undo all of my hard work…quickly.

As I opened the bag, candy and cakes began to spill. I caught them and pushed them to the sides as I opened the bag fully. And then I was fighting with the laptop. It budged only a little each time. And then finally it gave. The other devices were retrieved with ease.

Next, I was de-clothed. I hadn’t been ready for this. I ask for each instruction, about the removal of my belt, which held my large pants on my waist, and shoes, twice. I removed them and felt more awkward than before. Trying not to feel more self-conscious I pushed through the motions of being patted, walking through the metal detector, and waiting for my belongings to get to me. And again I was fighting with them as I tried to shove everything into the bag all at once. It took awhile. Tiffany finished gathering herself and stood waiting. I tried to arrange the sweaters on my suitcase, but that didn’t quite work either.

I dragged my carry-on towards Tiffaney with my laptop bag still open, and my belt unbuckled, and the sweaters thrown over the carry-on in a haphazard fashion. I pushed the thoughts of my awkardness away, as I looked this way and that for Mr. Cavehill.

“Are you ready?”

He had been standing at the side, waiting. He led us into the departure lounge where he handed over the documents I would need, while informing us of who would meet us in Moscow. He then ensured that we had his number, as well as the number of our contact person in Moscow. He sat ensuring that we each had all the documents we would need. And then, he sat for a bit longer in silence. Tiffany and I found a bathroom and we fixed ourselves, and returned quickly. Soon, it would be time for us to board. Cavehill give us a word of encouragement while also noting that it would not be an easy feat. And then we were alone.

Cavehill had told us where the gate was, and we sat watching the airline workers as they readied themselves for the approaching time. By the time it was announced that passengers could board there was already a line.

We boarded with ease, relative ease. Despite having pulled myself together, repacked my bag, and rearranged the sweaters I was still awkward. As I arrived at the opening of the plane I stopped, and tried to hoist my bag into the plane by its handle. It didn’t work. On my left I carried my laptop bag, and the sweaters which I couldn’t rearrange on the suitcase as they had been. With my free arm, I pushed down the handle and lifted it by its strap. I had forgotten how heavy it was. And finally I was in the plane.

I had never in all of my previous pre-anxiety reruns thought that finding my seat would be an issue. But it was. After being told to go to the second corridor I was on my own with several persons behind me. I felt lost. I pulled over to the side and asked where we were. The passenger in the seat fussed with her things until she found her ticket, and told me. She was ever so kind about the whole ordeal despite being disturbed. Tiffany relayed that she had an idea of where we should be and so I began to walk feeling rather blind. It was an entirely foreign feeling of being misplaced in an enclosed space of no great size. Finally we arrived at our row, and I was confused about seats, then clumsy with the luggage compartment, and interacting with the helpful passenger who opened said compartment. Ugh! It felt like a lesser but still intense form of torture. I stumbled into my seat, strapped myself in, and waited.

I heard the sound of something hitting plastic, the plastic in my lap. It was wet. There was a small puddle on its surface. And there it was. Water was dripping from the plane. I didn’t know what to do. Calling the stewardess was an option but I would first have to get her attention and I simply didn’t know how to, and of course I was too nervous about it. Suppose this was a signal that something was wrong, and the plane crashed. Then we would die. I prayed for forgiveness, and a safe flight, and moved to the empty seat between us. The water continued to drip for awhile. I am unsure of when it stopped, but by the time we landed it wasn’t dripping anymore.

I peered out of the window awkwardly from the middle seat. The space was vast and covered in unpainted cement with a wash of orange light. The plane began its journey down the runway, and then we were in the sky. It was dark. There was nothing else to see except the light blinking on the plane’s wing. I brought my attention to the interior once again.

For the next seven hours and fifty minutes I would sit in this seat feeling cold and awkward, unable to sleep. I would close my eyes at some points and at others I stared at various sections of the plane. But, oddly, I don’t regret it in the least. Very near to the end of the flight, but far enough away from last so that I could only discern sea and land I got to watch the sun rise. It was spectacular. It was the most wonderful experience I have ever had. It was so beautiful, so perfect. I felt as though I was watching God paint the sky.

I was ecstatic. I could not have been any happier or any more at peace than I was in that moment. I was content, and elated. It was, and will remain (I presume) the purest form of beauty I have seen. Simply thinking about it makes me calm. (Thank You, Jesus!) And my journey continued with a happier me.

Having realize where the bathroom was, and how the door was operated I made use of the facilities still feeling very aware of how clumsy I must look fidgeting with the door. And then I was falling across Tiffaney to get to my seat again. We were served breakfast. It was then then that we realized that the passengers who we had envied for having empty seats next to them in the middle seat column where they could lie across and actually sleep weren’t occupants of the middle row. They had simply seized the opportunity and slept there. They were returning to their original seats. We were besides ourselves with a mixture of amusement, and bewilderment at having missed the opportunity to sleep, and to sleep in relative if not complete comfort.

The sun, had risen fully. The sky, was bright, and beautiful. This time I delve for and into my laptop bag shoving my fingers here and there trying to find my phone. Bent in half between two seats, with my seatbelt on I twisted my head in every possible way to see, then feel for the device. With my face pressed into the back of the seat in front of me, and my sealtbelt keeping my hips connected to the seat, I couldn’t reach deeper. Pulling the bag to my lap had proved to be much too much work. So I wouldn’t be doing that again. I pull my face out of the cushion while righting my position, undid my seatbelt then slammed my face and fingers into the seat and bag again. Bent forward with my face as far into the seats back as was possible without disturbing it’s occupant, I felt my phone. And then I began the jerky movement of pushing it here and there in the tightly packed bag, as I tried to get it to the top. As I had thought, it was a clumsy and tiring effort that left me breathless. I caught my breath for several seconds before preparing to take the image. I took a few snaps, and then continued to enjoy the view.

Soon after we flying over land, and I could discern trees, and streets, green blankets over the land here and there. I loved it. As time progressed we got closer and closer, and closer, until we finally touch the earth’s surface again.

And the anxiety began its slow boil again.

Getting To Russia: Leaving Home Pt.1

After three or four months I can’t say it’s a blur, a clouded moving image maybe, but not a blur. It might have been significantly better if I, as a self-proclaimed writer, had penned my doings sooner. But that is never the case as I either find other things to better the procrastinator in me, or write, re-write, write again and discard thousands of words…to better the writer in me, I guess. Nonetheless, here we are finally at the “unveiling” of all my re-writes, many thoughts about how to correctly, and adequately portray my experiences, and the feelings attached to them then and now. Initially, I wanted to follow the advice of my good friend, advisor, and editor, Chelsea. However, as I stand writing this I feel a desire to simply tell you about the instances which stand out in my mind.

My itinerary looked a bit like this:

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

London (Heathrow – T5) –> Moscow
Oct 12 2015
2150 – 0340 (0350)

Moscow –> Krasnoyarsk
Oct 13 2015
1010 – 0650 (0440)

As I walked along the long corridor with my mother I inhaled the salty air. It was cold, and crude, and I liked it. I felt like my nation was saying goodbye to me. It felt like the 365 beaches we often boast were waving to me with their silent voices, for I couldn’t hear them. I could only feel the strength of their breath as they wrapped themselves around me, clinging to my skin, as if saying “Don’t forget us. We will not forget you.”

And then I was in another cold: a still, unfeeling, “professional” cold of the airport’s interior with it’s bright, harsh lights which held no personality, and it’s large space which held no voice or emotion of its own. I walked to the counter. I was greeted, and returned it. Then I gave what was asked of me. I was nervous, and cold. I felt alone….I had left the sounds of my home at the door. This port, this transition, from island-sounds to no sound was a quick one. I yearned to be outside in the air with the silent, talking waves, but I dared not tempt myself with such luxuries of being too near to who I’d come to be. I was leaving myself…so I tried to embrace it. I pushed thoughts of never smelling the salty air of my shores to the farthest regions of my mind, as I slid my empty navy blue, passport across the chilly, marble counter, and waited, trying to let everything happen with as little feeling as was possible. And then it was over. I could breath again. I was taking the cold into my lungs, as I moved in this silence as though I was apart of its design.

I saw Tiffaney, and her family standing in what looked to me like the centre of emptiness. They spoke silently, huddled together in a small space. Here they stood out, and yet in the vast building around and above, they were insignificant. Under the bright, hollow lights they were less animated, and so were my family and I. We stood there talking together…about nothing. Tiffaney would be my companion for the next few days. She would inevitably leave me, but our journey together would be a long one, and so we began to connect.

“Do you know what I should put here? I don’t know if I should put our first location or our last.”
“I don’t know either. What is that?”
“Oh. You didn’t get one?”
“No.”
“The lady at the counter told me I would need it.”

I watched her as she ran off. I was anxious. It wasn’t just a small simmer like my feeling at the counter. It was bubbling now, softly, but it was bubbling. She returned with the small, thin square form and asked her aunt. She couldn’t remember. And it bubbled further. I looked around in what to me felt frantic, but to others might have looked simply observatory. I located four uniformed individuals on the floor. Of the four, one odd couple wore similar uniforms. I knew one of them was my target. They continuously moved across the floor as I analyzed the mark that would tell me who it would be. And then I found it, a very obvious difference I managed to miss, the words I needed “…Airport Authority”. I continued to bubble. I almost lost the courage but grabbed it at the last second, when she was almost gone.

“Excuse me.”
“Hi?”
“Do you know what I should put here?”

She knew. She asked where I was going, and told me that I should put my first locations: Antigua and London. We completed our forms. And then we waited. And then, it was time. But I wasn’t ready.

“So you are going to board now?”
“No. I have to wait.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“I don’t have all of my documents for the university.”

It began boiling in that way, that makes an unstable pot vibrate on a stove top. I couldn’t leave without my documents. Where was Mr. Cavehill?

“Did you call him?”
“No. He said he would give them to me here.”
“He said he was coming to the airport?”
“Yes.”
“Do you have his number?”
“Only his office number.”
“You should have his cell. Call him.”

I called. It rang. I called. It rang. I called again. And again, and again. Tiffaney’s aunt called a friend who worked with him. And then they left. And we continued to wait. Tiffaney sat calmly, as she waited for me waiting on him. I was anxious.

Suppose he didn’t come? He would come. Suppose he had forgotten? I had bugged him for the last year and he’d seen me just two days ago. He would not forget. Suppose he got there late? Suppose he got there too late?

“If he’s not here in the next few minutes you should board.”
“And what are you going to do?”
“I have to wait. I can’t do anything without my documents.”

But I considered her words. Maybe I could go and then he would send the documents later. But what would I do without the documents. I would basically be stranded, right? What would be the point of arriving without the documents. And so I resolved to wait even if it became too late. And then he was there.

“What are you doing out here? You should have checked-in already?”
“We were waiting on you.”
“Waiting on me?”
“Yes, for the documents.”
“You should have checked-in. I would have brought them to you.”
After we checked-in?”
Yes. I can go anywhere. You didn’t know?”

I hugged my grandmother, aunt, mom, brother. Then we were off. And up the stairs. And I forgot to look back. I forgot to tell them a final goodbye, with a wave from the last point at which they would see me.

I forgot to burn their goodbye smiles into my memory. And I forgot to give them one last smile, one last wave.