Sunday Scribblings: With Baggage

I decided to do this one as a memory recount rather than fiction, just because my heart is not in the right place to be creative today.

Rewind back to January, 2004. J. and I had just had a lovely lunch (of McDonalds, I believe!) at the airport with both sets of parents, our luggage had already been checked in, all we had now was time. I remember the pictures being taken outside the glass windows of the "passengers-only" area, I remember the tears, I remember feeling so paranoid; "Could I even do this (sort of) on my own?" But then, the time came and we left everything behind.

This was, as you may have imagined, the beginning of our Europe trip together, and even though it was 2 and a 1/2 years ago, it feels as though it were even further away than that. On the contrary though, there are some memories which I feel as strongly a if they happened yesterday.

We had been lucky enough to be given seats in Economy class which were near the exit doors; seats in the row which had no seats in front of them. What did this mean? More leg room! It also meant that during take off and landing time, the crew would sit facing us, which was rather amusing. Those are faces that would make an interesting character sketch, indeed; faces of absolute blankness, seeing as though they had done this (and would do this) a thousand times.

I remember feeling terrible after the plane trip to London. I had started the journey with my contact lenses in, but a few hours into the flight took them out and put on my glasses; the ventilation made my eyes so dry that they hurt. I also walked off the plane feeling as though I was suffering from a shockingly bad cold, so I didn't feel too wonderful.

I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the airport, and thankful that J. had been here before and knew where to go.

I remember feeling paranoid that our luggage (mine in particular) would have somehow been left behind, or smuggled off, or left on board, and all of those other crazy paranoid fantasies people have when they cannot see their luggage. Our baggage was late off the plane, so I sat down in a corner of the airport and ate gummi lollies. When the time came, I remember standing at the baggage claims area freaking out (silently) because while J. got his luggage at once, mine was nowhere to be found. It still amazes me that our bags were checked in together, yet his came out on the first rotation and mine did not come out until about the third!

And then, we were out of the frantic airport, out into the freezing cold air where dozens of buses appeared and disappeared. Thank goodness for J's brother, who came and picked us up, showed us the right way to go, and our adventure started. And what an adventure it was!

Highlight baggage experiences;

# Trying to repack a smaller bag for our Contiki tour, where the luggage weight is lower than what the plane trip allows. This continued all the way to the breakfast area of the morning we left, where we were constantly rearranging our things to make them fit. We were JUST over, but they allowed it.

# Every time we purchased a souvenir, having to do the baggage shuffle in order for it to fit.

# Me realising that in all of my haste, I had forgotten to pack a pair of dressy shoes to wear out to all of the nights out (including Moulin Rouge, fancy dinners, etc etc); leaving me wearing a pair of closed in Colorado shoes with open skirts. Bleh! I cringe to this day.

# Lugging our "Contiki-bag" up Paris staircases which were less than 1metre wide and frustratingly winding!

# One elevator in the whole hotel; basically meaning lots and lots of stairs every time!

# Arriving back in London once again and then repacking yet another bag; this time for our Scotland one-week adventure! This bag had no wheels, alas. Meaning that a duffel bag sounded like a great idea at the time, but oh boy did the bag hurt our arms and shoulders after walking around for a few hours looking for our bed and breakfast. Ack! Thank goodness J. has muscles.

# And of course -- the typical, end-of-holiday baggage freak out. The freak out involving thoughts like "I can't afford to pay excess baggage!", "Last time I was only charged per kilogram over, so don't worry, er, we can't be THAT much heavier!", "Are bathroom scales accurate?", "I KNEW you shouldn't have bought that ____ (insert souvenir here)", "We'll just have to wear layers, it's cold outside, we'll be fine."

All packed, wishing London goodbye, racing for the station to take us to yet another station to take us to the airport - we managed and we made it home, baggage intact. Memories... Every time I find myself recounting this experience, I want to go back so badly my heart aches.

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