When my folks invited me out to the coast with them to stay in their huge 7th floor penthouse apartment with them for a weekend, and then alone for the following week – to have some alone time which they know I desperately need, I was more than happy to take them up on it. Not to runaway from my life… but just for a change of pace and scenery.
I almost cancelled the trip because the days leading up to it were awful. My dogs, for reasons I still don’t entirely understand, decided to try to eat my cat. Marley has now for the last five days been at the vet recovering. Thankfully he was not as badly injured as we had initially thought and will likely make a full recovery.
Everything fell in to place… from what I should do with the dogs to who will care for Marley while I do it… and leaving to have my mini holiday became less intimidating. I still feel guilty for leaving James behind, but he agreed, and understands that I went from someone who had all the alone time in the world, to not having any for over a year… and with the tenants and the crazy friends three houses away – it took its toll on me.
Then with all that happened with the dogs and Marley and seeing as we wont be going anywhere for Christmas… it was important that I get away. Or I may have spent the next 20 to life in prison.
So I obsessively made a ‘To Do’ list for James, and stuck post-it notes everywhere. Being the control freak that I am – I still call to make sure he has fed dogs, eaten himself, done this… done that… and to be honest… I missed him before I even made it to the airport. And the weird part was that I landed on his home soil… and had happy flash backs of meeting his family for the first time not too long ago.
The taxi ride TO the the airport was a near death experience. I counted – we were honked at a total of 21 times. What should have taken 45 minutes in NO traffic, took us 32 minutes IN traffic. .. I still put my medical aid card in my cleavage in case a paramedic needed to resuscitate me… I knew it would be found.
The driver also had a serious body odour problem… which was the only blessing in him driving that fast. I didn’t have to endure it long.
Once at the airport, I was reminded of how long it has been since I was in amongst THAT many people. I used to travel a LOT when I lived in London, on trains, planes, underground etc… and I always loved the anonymity and the feeling of being surrounded by people and the energy in it…. but that was before the fire, before I came back to South Africa and hermitted away, and forgot how to navigate crowds and the hustle and bustle of rude ignorant idiots.
Standing in the check -in queue, I saw the sign that said I could only take one carry on item for free. Panic set in because my laptop bag and my camera bag are the same size. There was no way I was going to get my Nikon and all my lenses and batteries and chargers and attachments into the laptop bag. As calmly as I could I checked my main bag through, and tried not to look like I was holding more than two bags.
After surviving that, I headed for the nearest bathroom and became paranoid about the cameras in the airport. It would make sense to me that they would watch bathrooms for unattended bags, or dodgy behaviour. If anyone was paying attention they would have seen that I went in with a green bulky camera bag and a black back pack, equally as bulky.
Once in the cubicle, I tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do. I took all my camera things apart. Lenses, chargers etc. I pulled the cushioning out of the camera bag – which is attached with SERIOUS Velcro – and tried my best not to sound like I was strapping or unstrapping some sort of explosive device to myself.
It took a while but I figured out how to get all the camera bits into the laptop bag. I did, and the actual camera bag looked more like an origami soccer ball by the time I was done with it, and that got wedged in there too. Confident that I now looked like a ninja turtle with a giant black shell, I exited the bathroom with no green camera bag in sight. I even walked slowly expecting to be jumped by security – but apparently blowing up my local international airport would be relatively easy.
So I set an alarm clock on my phone to tell me when I should head to the boarding gate which I refuse to do any earlier than I have to because I was hungry and needed to smoke first. So after much squinting at signs and a LOT of going up instead of down, I found the food court.
I parked myself and my Ninja Turtle shell in the smoking section of a Wimpy. Famous for their cheap and nasty but still somehow delicious food. The only problem with Wimpy is that it is a weirdo magnet when it comes to tourists. Also by then my OCD had started to do back flips because of how many people I was near – and I was on the aggressive side because I was tired of walking and carrying a heavily loaded bag behind me.
The woman opposite me coughed like a a mule choking. The man next to me kept wiping his nose on his arm and then on his pants. The man opposite me on the other side smelled like beer when he was drinking a milkshake – and then it occurred to me that an airport is the LAST place I want to hallucinate in. And I hallucinate when I am tired or stressed. The last thing I need to to is imagine my waitress…
Thankfully I didn’t see any cats or birds or half cat half birds and even more thankfully, my waitress was always real and I was able to have my smokes, eat my food,drink my coffee and exit with out making a tit of myself.
After making my way all the way back to boarding gates, I decided I wanted a magazine. So I went back in the opposite direction only to discover that I had been right next door to a magazine store. So I chose a few and as I walked out the store, I looked at the time, and realised my alarm had not gone off. There was NO WAY this Ninja Turtle was running so I just walked as fast as my shirt little legs could carry me, and arrived at the boarding gates red faces and out of breath. Two blokes behind me were driving uo my butt, so I stopped and said, ‘Okay – daddy long legs – GO PAST ME.’ He remarked something about dynamite coming in small packages, and I tapped my laptop bag shoulder strap and said, ‘Not if you bring back up’. And walked on. But as I did that… I realised that they make you unpack electronics at the detector areas of the boarding gates.
I could have cried.
So I have dumb and dumber standing behind me carry on on in Afrikaans about how people shouldn’t joke about bombs, and I am looking at the official praying he will not make me UN pack my bag. Of course, when I begged him not to make me unpack it – the two men behind me became quite determined that I did. After all, I could actually have a bomb.
Thankfully all I had to do was slide the laptop out and the rest stayed tucked into their various places. My bags made it through fine, I however got felt up on the other side because I made the thing beep. I still cant figure out why ….
So I dash off to the gate I need to be at – and I see this flat moving escalator thing (I dont know what they are called) and I get on it thinking I am very clever because it will move me faster in the direction I need to be. But as I pass people, I say… What flight are you waiting for? ‘They all in unison said C10 to Durban…’ and I realised that I was busy making my way to the wrong end of a VERY long queue. And there was no walking escalator thing back.
By then I was just exhausted, morose and DYING for a smoke. But I boarded successfully, and did a good job of scaring the girl who sat next to me when she asked me certain drugs. By the time we landed I had convinced her that her brain would be mushy wet toilet paper if she carried on with it.
I am still trying to figure out what Karma will come back to me on that.
Arrived in Durban safely. My folks leave tomorrow night and then I have complete alone time until the following Monday. I will have a coffee with my Dot every second day but for the most part I get to just unwind. I am SO excited about that.