Hello, all! I hope you’re having a lovely morning/afternoon/evening/night, wherever you are in the world!
Well, I have a pretty big update today.
This past Tuesday, I did the most spontaneous thing I’ve done yet in my life!
Jon’s trip to Canada was just about over. Our last day together had calmed into night, and the girls had just headed to bed. I sat in Jon’s arms, drinking in his gaze with my hand on his heart. “I wish I could just go home with you,” I sighed, leaning my head on his chest where my hand was.
Then I looked back up, and we stared at each other.
“Should we?” he said.
“Absolutely,” I replied.
And a few minutes later, I was booked onto his flight back to England.
I broke down in tears as joy flooded me. This sudden burst of emotions then decided to fling me like a sack of potatoes straight into a severe panic attack. I quickly began gathering things to pack as I trembled and hyperventilated. We knocked on the girls’ bedroom door and got them out of bed to tell them what was happening; they were stunned at the suddenness, but also very happy for us and glad we were going together. They were my anchors as the panic grew worse and I felt like I was dying. The worst of it soon subsided, however, and I was able to sleep for three hours. I had no idea spur-of-the-moment trips would freak me out so much!
My building’s storage rooms aren’t accessible until 10am, so I wasn’t able to go grab my suitcase until then. After I’d brought it up and had everything neatly packed, Jon and I made our final rounds around the apartment to make sure he’d gotten everything, and then we were out the door before the girls woke up. I couldn’t believe this was happening!
We actually wound up on the wrong 52 bus out of Lawrence Station; it went past Pearson without stopping there. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover this until pretty late in the game, so we got off the bus into freezing wind and light snow near the airport. The route sign showed that the bus we needed didn’t stop there, so we walked back to a different stop that had no route information whatsoever.
Not good for my anxiety.
But then the 52A came about twenty minutes later, and it ended up at the stop that we thought it didn’t go to, naturally! Oh well, I suppose it was good to burn the extra calories, anyway!
Once we got to Pearson, we wanted to check in as soon as possible so we could get through security and go relax at our gate. But the British Airways desks didn’t open until 3:30pm. Jon had trouble acquiring our flight information from online, so he sat down in the queue with his laptop and finally found it, so then I went over to the self check-in kiosks. Well, some of the kiosks just weren’t working, and the one that did told me my check-in couldn’t be completed and that I had a message at the desks. Since the desks weren’t open yet, so all I could do was rejoin the queue with Jon and worry about what had gone wrong.
Not good for my anxiety.
The BA desks finally got set up and were opened. Even though we’d been waiting second in line for over an hour, we were told we were in the wrong queue and had to get behind a VERY long queue further down. But when the couple ahead of us complained that we’d been here first and had been waiting for a long time already, we were allowed to check in. The lady we had at the desk was so sweet, and assured me nothing was wrong with my flight information and that one can’t check in online or at the kiosks when it’s a last-minute booking. Then she made sure to get Jon and I sitting together on the flight.
Once that was done and our suitcases were checked in, we went through a very slow security process and found our gate. Somehow in the tussle I’d lost nearly all the TTC tokens we’d just bought a couple days prior, and I was hot and sweating and anxious, but then we passed a David’s Tea and were drawn in by all the wonderful smells. So we relaxed with pistachio ice cream lattes and watched the snow start to accumulate around the airport.
With an hour left before boarding, we went to our gate and got some terribly expensive sandwiches and wished we’d eaten something substantial before having to pay airport prices! And then it was finally time to board.
This was really happening!
We sat next to this very friendly Canadian who was just passing through London to visit his brother in Germany, and we immediately befriended him. Our plane sat at the gate for over two hours as the snow started coming down harder, and we commiserated with our new friend every time we got an update from the captain. We started thinking that our flight might get cancelled. We could see dozens of vehicles working on the runways to keep them clear and keep the planes de-iced, their flashing orange lights blurred in the thick snowfall. Finally it was our turn to leave the gate and get the same de-icing.
And, at last, we took off and left Ontario and the winter storm behind. We found out afterwards that Pearson cancelled 250 flights going in and out of Toronto, so we were lucky that we got out in time!
Our journey was short; just over five hours as opposed to nearly seven or eight. I enjoyed some vodka and orange, and mere minutes later my cheeks were blood-red and I felt goofy and non-anxious for a while. Jon was greatly amused by this and kept teasing me for being a lightweight! Then we had dinner, which was quite nice and the best I’ve ever had in-flight (and I also had some white wine, which was lovely), followed by a nice cup of tea.
Because we’d set out so late, the crew worked diligently to get new bookings for anyone with connecting flights. I was glad we didn’t have the stress of that, at least!
Jon and I then started up Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the same time so we could watch it together. I missed a large chunk of it because we hit turbulence over the Atlantic, and as usual it scared me so badly that I was convinced we were going to die. I felt a bad panic attack coming on, which I rode out with the bumps and shakes as Jon gently reassured me and kept his arm around my shoulders.
Not good for my anxiety!
At last, we passed through the turbulence and approached Ireland. The black sky slowly began to lighten, and then suddenly there was a beautiful pastel pre-dawn over the Irish coast and a thick, low woolly sea of lavender clouds (the top layer of Winter Storm Jake, I suspect). As we passed over Ireland and were given small breakfasts in cute boxes, the sun emerged and bathed the sea of clouds in gold. I was airsick from the combination of the turbulence and all the action in The Force Awakens, so I couldn’t bring myself to eat breakfast and I stuck it in my backpack and settled for orange juice as we began to descend.
I thought it was beautiful as we began to sink into those pale purple clouds. But as soon as we did, we hit nasty turbulence that had us jerked and yanked around our seats, and one of the flight attendants hit their head at the sudden drops. I know that planes don’t really move around as much as we think they do during turbulence, but it felt like we dropped about 3,000 feet in three seconds!
Not good for my anxiety!
After we emerged from the bottom of the big storm, I could see lone, ragged rainclouds with long sun-gold sheets of rain over London. We landed in a patch of blue sky and sunlight, which was good, because we didn’t park at the gate and had to tightly pack into a shuttle bus to be taken into Heathrow. Everyone was irritable at this point and all wanted to be off the bus first, just like on the plane where Jon had been shoved aside and then trodden upon by a very impatient female passenger.
Not good for… Oh you know what, skip it.
The lineup for customs was very long and slower than I’d ever experienced before, which had my heart racing and my throat and tongue dry and burning. I hunted the faces of the border guards, hoping to see more cheerful faces than not. Most of them were chatting, smiling, and laughing together, so it seemed like a decent day. The guard I got wasn’t smiley, but her questions were minimal and she was personable enough.
Our suitcases came out as soon as we reached baggage claim, and then we were home free.
Good morning, Heathrow!
I sat down and messaged Liat while Jon went to get tickets for the coach to Leicester. We didn’t feel up to getting on the Tube and trying to catch the express train at St. Pancras since we’d gotten in so late, so even though the bus would take three hours, we felt it was more than worth it. It was certainly less stressful!
Almost as soon as we boarded, Winter Storm Jake unleashed his wrath in the form of strong winds and heavy rain. There was even a spectacular bow of lightning that struck close to Heathrow as we spent a half hour driving through and around it (good grief, I didn’t realize that airport was that massive!). The coach was warm, not very busy, and was a little uncomfortable with tight seats and weird orange curtains, and we kept falling asleep for minutes at a time. Sometimes there was a break in the storm and I could see blue sky again.
And soon enough, we’d arrived in Leicester just as the skies were clearing up again. Elaine came to pick us up, and it was a joyful reunion as we drove home to Ravenstone.
It really does feel like my home.
My England, my soul.
It feels like these six months away never happened.
And that, friends, is how I grabbed hold of spontaneity and found my joy again, even though I had a few panic attacks to go along with that joy!