Boarding pass, security check, gate 12.
If you were solving a Sunday paper riddle and these three, seemingly innocent phrases were hints, the immediate answer would have been ‘Airport!’. As a frequent in-between-homes air traveller, I must say, this single word does not solve the puzzle – it is much more complex than any non-nomad can imagine.
Before I started flying back and forth on the Poland-England line, waiting for an plane journey was always a pleasant experience. I enjoyed the anticipation, the excitement when reaching the tried and trusted duty-free area, the tight knot somewhere between your heart and stomach at taking off. I still get those feelings, but it’s a one-way exhilaration.
Going home is like galloping on a candy meadow with a bunch of unicorns. Coming back, no matter how much I miss university and the UK, is never ‘easy breezy.’
Whenever the online check-in window opens, it feels like I am about to step through the gates of hell. The little, red light in my head starts flashing ferociously, making me realise that the time, which I thought I had so much of, is slowly shrinking. My suitcase is lurking from the corner of the room, demanding to be packed. Again.
Although I am one of those emotional individuals, who can burst into tears while watching a Pixar short about lonely volcanoes, I manage to keep my chin from trembling till we reach the airport. But once I’m there, I begin to melt like a sundae on a hot summer day.
I don’t know if my airport did this as a cruel joke, but there is this 10-minute parking zone there, called ‘Kiss&Fly.’ Just noticing the sign reminds me of the sad fact that it is me who gets the kiss and then has to fly. I’d prefer if they named it ‘no worries, you’ll see each other soon.’ That would put my heart at ease.
Next step is security. When walking through the detector gate, I almost pray it beeps and those cold-hearted people find out I am entirely made out of metal, like the bloody Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz. But 10 minutes pass and my Dad has driven away already anyway. So I might as well suck it up and keep going. I can’t really go back now.
I begin to miss the cold faces of security when I reach the top of the plane stairs and the crew that’s giving me a heart-warming welcome. Still pulling my ‘wet puppy’ face, I fall heavily on my seat and look towards the curled up creature next to me.
It’s a teenage girl, intensely plastering her sad, little face to the miniature window. I take a sneaky peek at her phone’s screensaver. It’s a photo of an identical face, just a lot happier. There’s a boy’s face squeezing into it, suspended in a permanent laughter.
The engines begin to roar, and her tears start rolling. She doesn’t want me to see, but they are like little pearls reflecting in the window.
I cry to keep her company, but I also smile feebly.
We might be leaving home, but home is never going to leave us. It’s always in the same place – right where you heart is.