Circles and Hooks
I am tired and at the same time extremely grateful to be standing and able to walk, skip or run somewhere other than the narrow aisle. If I did not fear the possibility of a vacation curtailment I would run a zigzag path windmilling my arms furiously. Enviously I watch the children from my flight.
Our flight is allocated a carousel and a wave of people head in the same direction. Happy to stand back and wait, I watch as characters take up their positions-a drama is sure to unfold. There are those who insist on pushing to the front-standing with their shins as close to the conveyor belt as possible. Others collect a trolley and then silently manoeuvre it so that those in the front are now unknowingly pinned between the belt and the trolley. It is clear to see that this will result in bruises-hopefully none above the neck.
Gradually bags appear on the luggage catwalk. This season there is a mix of retro and modern. I still wince when I see the suitcases from my childhood- big, heavy and without wheels. My arms were irreversibly lengthened in my teens when I had to help carry our holiday suitcases to the train station. So many of them look the same and I am glad that my own suitcase is easy to identify. It is bright red and is spattered with large pink flowers. I like to think of it as wearing its holiday shirt and shouting raucously, “Last one to the bar gets ‘em in!”
As I wait for a glimpse of my loud companion, I comfort myself with the fact that I have packed a toothbrush and clean undies in my hand luggage. If my bag goes off on an adventure of its own I will at least be able to freshen up. You can deal with any dilemma as long as you have clean pants and fresh breath.
My suitcase appears through the rubber curtains and I smile to myself as I imagine it bursting into song and playing to the front row. I let it do a lap of honour as I work out how to navigate the waiting hoards. I scan the fence of human bodies looking for a gap that I can use to my advantage. I securely plant my feet and prepare to bend my knees so as to lift my moving bag off of the belt without causing myself an injury.
Back on home soil it unnerves me just how quickly I have slipped back into the ‘need it done yesterday’ mindset. My holiday has come to an end, I return to work tomorrow. All I want to do is collect my suitcase and get home so that I can put on a load of washing, iron my uniform and prepare my lunch.
It has been 20 minutes already and still no bags have appeared on the belt. The black rubber centipede continues to do laps and my mind wanders. What if we had to sit on the belt and wind our way under a canopy of suitcases and bags hanging from hooks? What if my bag wasn’t on any of the hooks and I had to sit on the belt going round and round-would a customer service advisor come to my rescue?
I am aware of a trolley nudging the back of my leg and I remind myself not to turn abruptly as bruises would be inevitable. I am mentally compiling a ‘to do’ list and as I add each new item yet another holiday memory seems to disappear. Gradually it dawns on me; my holiday was exactly that, a break away from the norm. My life did not miraculously change. Yes, for a short while I got to live a different life but not one that I can sustain indefinitely. I removed myself from the situation but not permanently and everything that I felt the need to run away from is still here waiting for me. Watching the suitcases moving slowly past me I silently begin to cry as I realise the true weight of my baggage and that if I do not claim it I will be stuck on this conveyor belt forever; talking in circles, repeating patterns and going nowhere.