After years of procrastinating,months of saving and days of sleepless nights the time had finally come for me to leave Aberdeen.My family had gathered (despite their differences) to wave me off at the airport. I didn’t really want everyone there if I’m honest. My parents we’re hardly on talking terms,my grandmother and father hadn’t spoken in years and i was a nervous wreck. But not only was this moment in my life important for me,i knew how much it meant to my family, that i was finally taken the leap i always wanted to take. Before i had even stepped foot on the plane i could feel they we’re immensely proud of me.There need not be a flow of conversation (although my two grans could chat for all the tea in China) as my family knew this was my moment.I had said most of what i wanted too the weeks before. They had formed a delicate environment for me to play in as i took centre stage. There would be no drama. Just teary goodbyes that i knew I’d have to deal with and handle as i boarded the plane. My grandfather was a rock.A worldly man with countless great advice and kind words. If I’m honest i would of loved him alone,to take me to the airport and said my goodbyes to everyone else the night before. I knew he would of said the right things if and when i needed them. I wanted strength that morning. And i knew he was the source.But as it was my parents,grandmother and other grandmother came too and to be fair – i needed not worry. We shared a coffee,a few last minute chuckles and some mandatory travel questions – “got your passport?got everything you need?when does your flight get in?”etc.
My flight got called.It was time to leave. I had a flight to Heathrow and a connecting flight to Beijing.It was now time.
As we (as a family) took the short walk up to the check in desks i said my goodbyes. I can’t recall the order but i do recall the reactions. My grandmother was in tears (as presumed) as was my other.I remained strong. My old man was upset.I couldn’t recall ever seeing him upset.I harbour a lot of feelings on my dad.I kept it brief.We are both very similar.We both knew how we felt about eachother or perhaps just to proud to say. Amazingly i still stayed strong. Then as i approached my grandfather suddenly i began to crumble. My eyes filled up.My lip began to tremble and i was met with more wise words in which i sorely needed. He assured me I’d be fine and i would have the time of my life. It was almost as if i was getting into trouble for getting upset. We shook hands,exchanged a hug and i worried if i would see him in that great of health again. I then said a tearful goodbye to my mum. She of everyone was gutted i was leaving,yet she knew it was something i had to do. As she held on i said my last goodbyes and turned to the boarding desk,grasping my boarding card and passport. I marched on.They had decided to follow me down to the boarding desk! I continued to march on and waved my passport in the air as i carried on through.
That was it. I had officially left. But i was a mess. It was harder than i imagined it would be. I had played this scenario over and over in my head.I was always slick about it though – “Yeah I’ll give you a call on the other side – it’s all good. Don’t get upset. I’m off to get pissed and see the world.Back soon!”.I checked with the check in lady if i was in the right place. She assured me i was. I felt stupid for crying. I pinned a couple of Scotland badges on to my bag that my mum bought me from the gift shop earlier. I already felt like i was waving the flag for back home and i hadn’t even left Aberdeen yet.
The flight was only an hour or so but i was already anxious to get off,just so i could gather myself. It was full of business men and i felt out of place with my red eyes and Adidas hoody.
Stepping into ‘Terminal 5’ i began to feel alone. It hit home pretty fast that i was on my own. I walked around aimlessly looking out for shite tv celebs and drinking coffee. I had hours until my flight to China. But i needed it. I felt very self aware.I was protective of my bag.I had checked everything in it a thousand time. I read over my trip notes again and again,looking for possible stumble blocks and potential problems for my trip.I had no one to talk too. After being so overwhelmed with love and admiration i suddenly realised that this is what i was truly searching for.I wanted to deal with myself.I wanted to live in my own pocket. And i wanted to change.I knew before i left that only being on my own would achieve this. It had began.
The flight to Beijing wasn’t particularly memorable. It wasn’t like the movies where some hot bird sits next to you and you engage in meaning full,quirky chat for 10 hours. I had an older Chinese couple (who oddly owned a restaurant in Aberdeen).The gentleman spoke some English. His wife none at all. As much as i enjoyed engaging in idle chit chat,his breath stank a bit and he had a few bad habits. I spent most of the flight staring out my window blankly,waiting patiently for any sign of ‘a new world’.After 13 hours it came. The gentleman suddenly became very animated and excited – “look! The Great Wall Of China!” he said. Looking back on it I’m not sure what the fuck i was looking at but at the time someone could of said they we’re an undercover agent for the CIA and i would of believed it.I had played the same few songs over and over.I knew these songs would be etched in my memory forever. I picked them wisely. As we flew closer to Beijing i began to see hundreds of sky rises in huge industrial grids. I wondered how many people lived here and where they all worked.I had a couple of glasses of wine a few beers to calm my nerves during the flight. All i wanted was a cigarette. We we’re beginning to descent…..
April 14, 2010