I try to keep away from non-WoW posts. But I wrote this today during some downtime on my trip home and I’m rather fond of it. There are a handful of topics that I’ll happily ramble on about for days and travel adventures are one of them. I don’t have a personal blog and still wanted to share, so I decided to post it here. Most of this actually happened. It was a pretty crazy trip, the usual 5 hours turned into 12, and I’m really happy to be home.
There is more than just part of an ocean separating Newfoundland from the Canadian mainland. Even ignoring cultural boundaries, there are times when I realize I’m a long way from home. These times usually tend to be whenever I have to fly in to, or out of, the island. My whole life, when I’ve wanted to go to somewhere, I could conveniently hop on a bus or a plane. I could be anywhere in a matter of hours. Not so on “the rock”.
St. John’s, Going Nowhere
The fog settles down on us sitting in the cab pulling into the departures area. I regret not choosing an earlier flight. The horizon was clear when I got up at 6 am, but now I can barely see the building in front of me. Fog on a traveling morning means it’ll be a rough journey.
“We’re a bit behind schedule”, the friendly (shocking, I know!) agent at the check-in desk tells me, “about 40 minutes, I’d say.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Airline Speak, 40 minutes means 2 hours. Thank goodness St. John’s airport has free internet. It only took me a few moments to dash through the deserted security check and fire up my laptop. There’s nothing like whining on Twitter and doing some quick WoW dailies early in the morning.
It’s hard to focus in St. John’s airport, though. There are babies crying, obnoxious teenagers and creepy men who can’t find anything better to do than sit next to me and peak over my shoulder. I mean, I know it’s insanely fascinating to watch someone play WoW in an airport but I have a big bubble. In disgust, I shut it all down and started roaming the small room that is St. John’s airport’s gate area.
Now, let me tell you something about St. John’s: no matter where you go, you will always meet someone you know. This is true for me and I can’t begin to imagine how many people I would run into if I was actually a friendly person. I had barely made one lap when I heard the familiar “HEY!!!”. And there we go, I had company.
The two hours would have been bearable had the TVs in the airport shown videos other than of people sleeping in airports and talking about how they’re stranded in New York. The very storm that had shut down air traffic in the Northeast US had Halifax set as its next destination. Unfortunately, we also had Halifax set as our next destination. I could probably escape the storm if we boarded right away. Should the wait stretch out any longer, though, I’d miss my flight away from Halifax.
The agent at the desk took the microphone in his hand.
“Oh no, they’re going to cancel the flight” my discouraged companion sighed.
“Nono! The sign still says delayed! There’s still hope!”
I was antsy. I did not want to spend the next few days waiting for another flight to free up so I could go home.
“Flight 851 to Halifax is now boarding”
But I cheered too quickly. Our plane broke down on the runaway. Welcome to another “20 minutes”, which means an hour, of delay as they fixed our plane. And my friend was seated a few rows ahead of me, so company was somewhat lacking.
Halifax, Land of Epic Adventures
Of course, I missed my flight out of Halifax. Of course, the sky was dark and ominous. The clouds hung low and the airport was ghastly silent. The silence was mainly due to all airport employees being on their lunch break, but when you just missed both your connections, when you’re exhausted and when your knees hurt from pacing in your gorgeous high heeled boots, no Airline employees is a chilling sight.
I listened to the chatter around me.
“We need to talk to an Airline agent” says a man behind me. “Should such a creature exist…”
So here I was, stuck in Halifax with no way out, an approaching storm had my name on it and my knees were really bothering me. I was really hoping to make the raid tonight too.
My buddy and I grabbed some lunch and watched some more news videos of people sleeping in airports.
I did eventually get put on a flight to Montréal.
“You’ll need to go pick up your bag at arrivals and re-check it.” the Airline agent smiled at me. “Boarding is in 15 minutes so you might want to get on that.”
Trust me, no one has ever bolted through an airport in gorgeous high heeled boots like I did, sore knees or not. My friend offered to guard my stuff while I ran. I warned her not to take off with the rest of my lunch. My laptop is fine, but I need the other half of my sandwich.
You can probably guess that they stuck me at the end of a huge bag check-in line. And that when I reached the counter, the agent’s computer decided I had been in the wrong line after all. Also, going through security without a coat or any carry on luggage? Try it sometime. They still have protocols to follow…and, after all, even though you don’t have a bag or pockets, you might still have liquids, creams or gels stashed away…somewhere.
I made it back as my travel partner was boarding, just in time to wave goodbye, get my stuff back and ensure that, indeed, she did not steal my sandwich.
I boarded 5 minutes later and, thanks to a Christmas miracle, I was not stranded on the runway this time.
Montréal and Self Discovery
A two hour layover in Montréal isn’t bad, but I’m not one to sit still long. Gorgeous high heeled boots, sore knees and all, I needed to pace. There’s one thing I love, love, love at the Montréal airport:
Moving sidewalks are clearly one of the greatest inventions of all time. They’re, like, super efficient walking. They make me so happy. What’s great about the Montréal ones is that they’re in a hidden, quiet tunnel. So I can get on in one direction, reach the end, get on in the other direction, reach the end, and so on. AND NO ONE WILL SEE ME.
Well, usually that’s how it goes. After a few laps, I realized I had a witness.
“Est-ce que ça va?” (Are you ok?) he asked, seemingly concerned.
Uh oh. Now I look like a weirdo who plays on moving sidewalks. Which is what I am, but I don’t want to look like it.
“Non, non, ça va!” (No, no I’m fine!) I said with conviction, acting as if I was a completely normal and sane individual. I also made a mental note of how wonderful it was to hear my language and my accent again. God, was I ever homesick.
“Ah…d’accord!” (Ah, ok!) he replied uneasily, then went on his way. I breathed for a second, then realized he’d been looking at my face funny.
Looking at my face funny is not good. I made a beeline for the washroom mirror and…HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS. Apparently, I am allergic to moving sidewalk gasses. The poor guy thought I had been bawling my eyes out for hours, because that’s how terrible I looked. Me, who’s never been allergic to anything in her life, discovered last spring that she’s allergic to her favourite, delicious coffee goodness, and now this. Why, oh why, must my immune system rob me of all life’s pleasures?
I admitted myself defeated and sat down to spend my last hour in the Montréal airport writing this. Which brings us to now.
Québec City, at the End of the Road
Actually, no, I lied. I didn’t manage to finish writing at the airport, so I can tell the rest of the story. Later on, about 12 hours after I left my house in St. John’s, I was greeted by this:
By then, I was really crying.
I moved away, what, 7 years ago? It doesn’t get easier over time. To the contrary, it gets harder and harder. Every time I fly over the bridges, the Place Lau mall, the Université Laval, the cégeps, the feeling of relief and of longing becomes stronger. There are so many memories here, so many laughs, so many friends. This place and I, we understand each other. This is home.
I love Newfoundland, I really do and I don’t regret moving there at all. But it’s a world away. A bumpy 12 hour journey is such a small price to pay for two weeks in a place that understands you.
Happy holidays. My heart goes out to all those who don’t have the chance to get a glimpse of home this year. May you have happy holidays despite it all.
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