Joining in with Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop: Life on Film this week.
I chose the first prompt: Due Date
– Tell us about something anticipated and what happened when it arrived.
I can see the tail lights heading for Spain…’
The words of the song rang in my head and tugged at my heart. It wasn’t Spain though, it was New Zealand. He couldn’t have gone to a habitable place further away from England. Of all the countries he applied to, in his graduate I.T. job, it was the New Zealand office that responded with a vacancy. We both thought it would be a great opportunity. In our early twenties and keen to see the world. To be able to see a new country on an income with a plane ticket paid for was a bonus to our pockets, worn thread bare through our student years. But it wasn’t all perfect.
His contract was for two years. We weren’t seen as a ‘couple’ in the eyes of the law; since we’d not been living together. The best I could get was a one year working holiday visa, and hope that I could secure employment that might sponsor me to stay on in New Zealand for a bit longer. With that in mind we decided it would be best for me to follow Dan six month’s after his departure.
Six months of waiting ensued. Phone calls, letters and e-mails. It was 1996. There was no Skype. I read books by New Zealand novelists trying to feel close to the young man I loved on the other side of the world. I listened to the cassette tape he’d made me of our favourite music over and over again. I touched the paper of the letters he wrote with tenderness and lifted them to my cheek imagining his hand penning the words that comforted my love-sick heart.
And then the day came. A cold day in the midst of an English winter, in February 1997. My suitcase was packed to bursting point, with no room for my winter coat and very English umbrella (what was I thinking of taking an umbrella with me – to windy Wellington of all places!). I was torn in two as I hugged my dearest Mum and Dad good-bye. My heart would be healed in one part and broken in another. A flurry of emotions overwhelmed me as the plane lifted off the ground at Heathrow. Tears pricked my eyes as sadness, relief, excitement and fear raced in torrid conflict through my every cell. Farewell.
I vividly remember the domestic flight from Auckland to Wellington. It was a clear, summer’s day and I had a window seat. I gazed out at the rich, green land unravelling beneath me and felt a stirring of love for the land that would, unbeknown to me at the time, be my home for many years and the birth place of my three daughters. The young landscape had wrinkles and folds like a newborn’s skin. I was minutes from taking my first steps in a new chapter of my life.
Questions raced in my mind and crossed my heart.
‘Would I still feel the same way about the young man I’d not seen for six months?’
‘Was I right to leave my home in England, family, friends, a job?’
Suddenly there was no more time for questions. Butterflies danced in my stomach as I reached up to the overhead storage for my bag, umbrella and winter coat. My instincts told me I was doing the right thing. There was no turning back. Answers would come the moment I set eyes on Dan.
I shuffled to the exit of the plane, sandwiched between fellow passengers, feeling foolish clutching my umbrella and coat. I could feel the humid heat of a New Zealand summer filling the cabin as the doors opened.
I walked through immigration in a blur. All I could think of was how I’d feel when I saw him.
Rounding the corner into arrivals was like stepping onto a stage with the curtain ready to be pulled back. There was no backstage to run to. The show must go on.
Then I saw him. His smile. I ran to his arms (still clutching the stupid umbrella).
‘Hello,’ we both said in harmony, our voices meeting like they had on the telephone many times over the past six months, but this time every other sense was alive too. In a blink of an eye I knew this felt right. He smelled the same. His body locked to mine like a jigsaw piece finding its resting place. His body always warm, no matter the season, mine sometimes ice cold needing his embrace to heat my core.
We stood for what seemed like hours, struggling to find words. But words were all we’d had to cling to over the past six months. This wasn’t the time for words. We giggled like children. The umbrella was noted and laughed at. How very British of me to bring an umbrella. I would soon ditch it in a bin, like thousands of umbrellas in Wellington before mine. This was the time to shake off any stuffiness. To let the weight of history remain in the past. To live in the moment and be free in a new land.
Eventually we moved towards the baggage carousel. We moved in slow motion. All other sounds were muffled. The moving of people around us was blurred. Our spirits were lifted to a higher level of energy and we were in a space of our own, floating in luminiferous ether.
I felt nervous, like a young girl on her first date, but I knew the outcome was going to be good.
We’d waited six months. We were together again and this was going to be the start of a very exciting chapter in our lives. We had no idea what the future held and we didn’t give it much thought. When caught in a moment of true love there is no past, no future, only the present.