I’m in transit. Three horrible words: the act or fact of passing through; passage or conveyance from one place to another, as of persons or goods. This morning I’m definitely falling into the ‘goods’ category. I feel less of a person and more of a sack with a heartbeat. I feel like a DHL package, stuck and waiting for collection in Heathrow with a long layover between flights. Could someone please just place me on a trolley and push me to the bag drop? A friend once proofed some of my writing. In it I had made reference to DHL – as in, the international logistics delivery company. He suggested I change it to a generic term, rather than the company name, as for him the only thing that sequence of letters conjured up was D.H. Lawrence. Isn’t it interesting how we can have such very different points of reference? And isn’t it funny how that incident, long since forgotten, has come to my mind today as I wait in Terminal 2, coffee in hand, brain slowly turning to mush?
Tired, achy, weary, bleary, drained, blurry, groggy, foggy…. it’s magnified now, but I was already feeling that way last night. All of those feelings rolled into one lumpy body following a sudden haemorrhaging of energy as the renowned B. family wave-off ebbed away. From the moment I sat down at the gate, delays of 15 minutes were incrementally added to our scheduled departure. Long overdue rain had rumbled into Ottawa to usher me home, and with it (what else, given the humidity?) came thunder and majestic lightning, putting paid to any notions of a prompt departure. By 11.15pm we still hadn’t boarded. Every other flight had departed, and my fellow travellers looked as shopworn as I felt. Pyjama-clad children in the play area became grizzly, then fell silent and curled up in balls like kittens on their parents’ laps. Some, small enough to lie under the static arms rests, were stretched out on the benches sleeping deeply. Around me people were nibbling on pringles and trail mix and werthers originals and liquorice. Some were staring into space, some were watching a TV screen with pictures no sound, and many were resting their eyes in hopeful anticipation of sleep to come. I was getting more tried by the second just watching them.
By midnight we were in the air. I slept a little early on, but the smell of chicken in cream sauce woke me at 1am. I can’t say it’s a smell I hanker for at that time of the night (or morning). Food declined, I watched a movie, ‘Argo’. I was interested in Canada’s role in helping to rescue six US diplomats from Iran in 1981 (about which I have quite a lot to say, but for the time being I’ll leave it with the non-contentious observation: doesn’t – or didn’t – Ben Affleck have a lovely thick head of hair?). Looking out the window I saw the sun rise over the Labrador Sea – black above and below with a salmon coloured scorch mark bleeding into palest blue. Worth staying awake for. I fell back to sleep though; maybe for another hour or so. Enough sleep to feel like a semi-human DHL parcel who might be able to navigate herself towards bag drop in a few hours time. In the meantime, I’m off to call T., to see what’s being going on in her life for the last three weeks. It’s good to be (almost) home and I can’t wait to curl up tonight and sleep peacefully, like a cat, or a kitten. Although, I can’t say it will be in front of a fire.
‘Pax’by D. H. Lawrence (excerpt)
‘Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace
and at one with the master of the house, with the mistress,
at home, at home in the house of the living,
sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.’