“Flight VA898 to Melbourne is boarding now.”
I look up at the sound of the announcement, checking my ticket to ensure it’s my flight that has been called. People around me scramble to line up, the line stretching further than the seating area. Those at the front who were lining up, even before the boarding call, watch with smug smiles on their faces. I may never understand the need to line up straight away, the sudden rush everyone finds themselves in to get onto the plane; as if, if they don’t line up fast enough, they won’t get to sit in their assigned seat.
I turn back to my book to keep reading. The mindless chatter of people surrounding me flows past my ears, the whirr of the milk being steamed by the barista nearby, the overhead sound of the flights being called. I close my book and my mind goes into flight mode; thinking of the life I’m leaving behind, the unknown I’m stepping into. The opportunity to turn around is right at the tip of my mind, giving it up and walking back into comfort. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing every grows there,” I hear in my mother’s voice at the back of my mind.
I feel a body sit down beside me, shifting my body a little to the left to move away, our bodies a touch too close in proximity for my liking. I watch as the line gets only a little smaller; children getting agitated at having to stay in line, parents already wishing they hadn’t booked a family holiday. I get transfixed in a weird mix of wistfulness and disgust at a couple on their honeymoon or just fresh in a relationship, as they can’t keep their hands off each other.
“Isn’t it funny how people feel the need to line up so early?” The male voice next to me says.
I take a moment to snap out of my reverie and realise that he is attempting to strike up a conversation with me.
“Haha yep,” is all I manage to say.
“So what is sending you to Melbourne?”
I turn toward him, realising that I won’t be able to get out of this conversation lightly.
“Oh, cool. I live there. What are you moving there for?” He asks, relentlessly trying to keep the conversation alive.
“Change of scenery,” I say, giving him my best please-stop-talking-to-me-I’m-not-in-the-mood face.
“Ah,” he says, with an understanding look on his face. “Bad break up?”
I do my awkward, uncomfortable laugh that saves itself for new people or wrong situations.
“No,” I say, less than convincingly. Uninvited tears spring up in my eyes as memories cloud my mind, as I hastily rub at my eyes; cursing myself for forgetting I’m wearing mascara.
This man beside me politely turns away, feigning ignorance at the embarrassing tears. I gain just a sliver of my composure back as I notice the size of the line has lessened.
“Better get going then hey?” I ask.
“I guess so,” he says, and sticks out his hand. “Alex.”
The loudest HA! I have ever heard comes out of my mouth and I cover my mouth in shock. He looks at me with an amused look of curiousity.
“I reacted to that more than I meant to. I’m Alex, too,” shaking his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Alex too,” he says, having the audacity to cut in front of me in the line, handing his ticket to the staff member as she smiles politely and scans it. I move up behind him and hand her my ticket, almost expecting him to wait for me, shamefully hoping that his seat would be next to mine.
“Have a nice flight,” the staff member says for the umpteenth time today, smiling to me as she hands back my ticket.
“Thank you, you too,” I reply, cringing as I realise what I said; knowing I will remember this for years to come in the dark of the night as I’m trying to sleep.
I check my seat number – 38C – three times before I’m sure it’s embedded in my memory and I won’t forget as I am trying to find it when I am on the plane.
“Here we go,” I breathe, walking toward the start of the next chapter of my life.
I make it to my seat with no problems, saying polite hello’s to my neighbours for the flight, cursing myself at the disappointment when I realise Alex is not sitting near me. After settling in and the plan sets off, I nod off in no time.
I wake to the plane landing with a dry mouth, a sore head, and a very hungry stomach. I look to the left and catch the woman beside me smiling, as she gestures to under her eyes. I wipe under my own, the mascara residue crumbling at my fingertips. She passes me an untouched cup of water and a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich.
“I grabbed yours when they passed them out for when you woke up.”
“Oh my god, thank you so much,” I say, my stomach rumbling in thanks. I shove the food into my bag and down my water, as I stand up to join the rest of the slow moving line of passengers desperate to get off the plane.
“Enjoy your time in Melbourne,” the flight attendant smiles at me, thanking her and walking into the sunshine. A new home. A new beginning.
I had a comforting thought in meeting Alex, or even the food-plane-lady, thinking that I was lucky enough to have my first friend in Melbourne even before I had left home soil. People are fleeting, as are moments, as is time. You can spend four years of your life with someone and, after seemingly no time at all, they are gone forever. Relatively, you could spend a mere four minutes, and they could impact you in just the smallest way.
I booked a hotel for my first two nights, before my temporary home is ready on Tuesday morning, before my more permanent home is hopefully ready by November. Picture it. I’m in my underwear, I’m clutching my wine, and I’m staring out my window at my new landscape – buildings, lights and so many people. Not at all what I’m used to, I cannot see a single star in the sky, not a single soul I know walking the streets below. Change; doesn’t it taste so bittersweet?
© 2017. Rackers.