After drinking my way through Spain’s vineyards, falling down wooden staircases in Portuguese palaces, and getting married in Seville (see photo / blog to come), I found myself on a Greater Anglia train departing a small Suffolk town in England bound for London Liverpool Street with 40kgs of luggage.
Every year, I make the same treacherous journey across London to Heathrow Airport via Holborn where the escalator is yet to be invented with my unmanageable, back-breaking suitcases on my own. This means I have to rely on Holborn’s Knights in shining armour who are unafraid of offering a damsel a hand across this inaccessible underground station.
Last year in 2016, the anticipation of this experience turned into a panic attack amidst Liverpool Street’s crowds and I had to evacuate, make my way to the bar, and inhale a glass of wine while trying to control my sobs.
This time, I managed to get through Liverpool St. and disembarked the train at Holborn trembling like a rat on drugs in a little cardboard maze. My first Knight saw the horror on my face as I pulled back from the crowds and asked, “can I carry your suitcase up those stairs for you?” The anxiety I had felt all the way from Suffolk as I anticipated rejection and being left helpless with all of my crap vanished thanks to my shining chivalric London commuter.
The train which would take me to Heathrow approached the next platform. I had big plans to hop to and fro like a little leprechaun lugging my luggage on an as quickly as I could before the doors dramatically closed.
I executed this plan in such a fluster, however, that I clumsily ran the wheels of my massive 32kg suitcase over this innocent girls foot who had stepped off the train. I shouted “I’m sorry, really sorry…sorry” as I literally threw my coat and my backpack, containing everything I actually need in life, onboard under the eyes of a bemused audience as one by one my belongings slapped against the door on the other side of the train.
Not a soul offered me a hand this time, but it’s not surprising as I ran back and forth like I had taken speed. I am only imagining this is what someone on speed would look like; sweaty, mumbling profanities; eyes as wide as a deer in headlights with post-anxiety shiftiness. At least this time I didn’t suspect that a man I was alone with on the train a mere stop from Terminal 4 was weird and get off and wait 15 minutes for the next one like I did last year.
I made it on to the train with my arms in tact. I slowly wiped the hair out of my face, picked up everything and composed myself to create the illusion that didn’t just happen. As the train pulled away, I saw I had broken the girls flip flop, as I watched her holding on to the toes that I had just crushed. I whispered “I’m sorry” in the hope she might look up and at least let me see if she was ok. She didn’t look up. I felt like a massive ass hole.
I soon arrived at Heathrow panting and sweating like I’d run a marathon and NZ immigration had cancelled my residency visa. I was not allowed to fly. I can’t say I felt my best, and I did wonder if I might actually just rock my self to sleep in the corner of the airport.
I had coincidentally been reading goodbye, things by Fumio Sasaki on the Underground. How ironic it was to be feeling flustered amongst my audience because of my stuff and reading a book on the problems with having too much stuff. “There’s happiness in having less,” is how Sasaki begins his book. No shit, I thought.
He explains that I wanted to escape to a corner of the airport rather than deal with my struggles, because “there are limits to the capacity of your brain, your energy, and your time,” and because of my stuff and the debacles it had caused me from the moment that suitcase was zipped up my brain was at it’s maximum capacity to deal with anything else.
A lot of emotional baggage comes with flying alone. Especially when you’re blessed with a period that starts 35000ft in the air and would later turn out to be so bad that even the full cup of warm coffee I spilt down my bum crack after sleep spasming and kicking the table wouldn’t cover up what was now more than a coffee stain in my new white striped dress. #WonderfulAndMemorableTimes
After these travel disasters, therefore, which I believe would have been funnier without my luggage debacle throughout London, I made a decision on the plane to rid myself of the stuff that didn’t make my heart sing and my insides sparkle, as suggested by this Japanese oracle. This stuff of mine can make the hearts of someone searching through Auckland’s charity shops sing and sparkle instead, and next time I will fly to and from New Zealand with a clean, fresh empty brain, feeling prepared for all of life’s more serious first world obstacles.