The anticipation of departure makes champagne-like bubbles rise up in my stomach and tickle the back of my throat. The journey before the journey has begun and is a blur of foam shrimp sweets, ginger beer and windows down. Strawberries and cream are a tonic for the sleep that will evade us.
The sunlight trickles through through the thin curtains and accompanies the trill of the 4am wake up call. Clothes prepared the night before in neat ordered piles. Shoes tied, belt buckled and suitcase locked. Even before it occurred to me what time it was, we were in the car, typing in the postcode and blindly following the American lady’s GPS directions. Thick warm air creeps in through the car air vents and wraps us in lethargic slumber. The evening is winding down and last minute double checks don’t trouble us. A deep mist has settled overnight and hangs heavy in the air over the park. The wide, quiet roads are coated in a blanket of grey fog that will be burnt off in a few short hours. We pull into the airport car park and our luggage is placed onto the connecting bus. I hand my keys over to the man who parks my car next to the other holidaymakers abandoned vehicles. Barely a moment to think as we arrive in the airport, fresh and ready. Voices can barely be heard and the rhythmic clack of suitcase wheels become the metronome of the morning. We move through the check-in queue like a stream of fish swimming downstream, all towards the same goal, the sea. The busy airport is our ocean, with the staff as the sharks, snapping and biting us small fish to move in the way they wish. Even a very early Sunday morning cannot stem the flow of holiday makers, in their sun hats and sandals searching for warmth. They are leaving the UK on a deliciously warm morning that holds all the promise of a truly beautiful summers day. Heading across oceans and countries, high in the sky looking forward to somewhere new. Among these lightly clad holidayers I feel out of place, as my legs are covered in thick Levi’s and my arms are concealed by my black and white baseball tee. Sweat pools in the small of my back and I feel the padded straps digging in, weighed down by cameras, leads and cables. In another seemingly endless queue, a little girl is forced to give up her teddy so the man can scan its insides. It sharply reminds me of something similar happening to me in a vast anonymous airport in my innocence. I wailed at the thought of my honey coloured bear being cut open, to reveal nothing but wiry stuffing, by a brisk Australian man.
We join another queue as a sharp and pointy faced woman barks at us to queue in the proper fashion at Gate 19. The queue is full of interesting and diverse individuals, their feet clad in thick socks and hiking boots & thin waterproof jackets tied around their waists. Pale Scandinavians look bored and a chic father & son duo join the speedy boarding line. As I escalate the stairs towards the aircraft, I look over the concourse at the other brightly coloured planes preparing for take off. The sun is warm on my face, even though it is before 7am. The leather boots and jackets of the interesting men behind us are as intriguing as their conversation. Screen changes and test audiences make my ears prick up and I not so discreetly listen into their discussion as much as curiosity lets me. I take my seat only 4 rows from the back of the plane. I arrange my things around me, my novel & snacks take priority over my initial comfort. I sit back in the orange and grey patterned seat, with my eyes closed and hands in my lap. Waves of nausea wash over me, crashing against the shore as we rise into the sky. I feel like a small boat bobbing up and down way out to sea. My red cracked paint contrasting brightly against the dark sea with its hiss and spit of foam and waves. The small ping of the disabled seatbelt sign pulls me out of my reverie. We are off. High in the sky, anticipating reaching highs of 36,000 feet the pilot tells me. I’m restless, tired but the adrenaline flowing through me makes me unable to concentrate on anything for longer than a few minutes. A free row of seats just ahead of me entices me forward and away from the unpleasant odours of my neighbouring passengers. I sneak forward and stare out of the window, the true blue sky looks fake, the scant clouds, like cappuccino foam. I take the obligatory shot through the plastic oval window and don’t care if its been done a million times before. I’m fidgety and dig around in my bag for noise cancelling ear buds to drown out the dull airplane drone. Some teens a few rows in front are leaning over the seats and chatting, sharing stories with all around them. I can just see their eyes crease in laughter in the gap between the seats in front. I wipe sleep from eyes as another yawn washes over me. The music emitting from my laptop does nothing to soothe my restlessness. My office in the sky does not keep me entertained and I decide to work when my focus is better.
The seatbelt signs are suddenly illuminated & I turn to the bright open window. The lady in the row in front is talking animatedly about glacial melts, tectonic plates and arctic climates. I discover she is a geography teacher and the groups of teens in front are with her. She explains what I’m seeing below me. Great expanses of white to our left, I am told is the largest ice sheet on the island. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I am overcome by its beauty and scale. The view from out sharply descending plane is making me even more excited to explore the things I may find on the ground. Our smooth and easy landing quickly gave way to walking through the connecting tunnel to the terminal. I pass through a gift store on our way through to the warren-like terminal. The interior of the airport is a myriad of slate and structural glass. As I queue to have my passport checked, large quotes in a foreign tongue blare down over us with their indeterminable meaning. With all the adequate security checks proved correct and luggage collected I pass through the arrivals hall, with husbands waiting for tired wives; excited children wait eagerly for Dad’s return. I scan the crowd for my name on a board, and a bespectacled man shakes my hand & takes my baggage. Through the revolving doors and I’m out into the fresh air. I breath deeply and its cleaner than I could have ever imagined. For all the waiting I have done, I’ve finally arrived. I am here. I am in Iceland, and there is a whole new world out there for me to explore.
Abigail – Tweet Me!