It was 10:30 A.M., May 2nd and we waited in anticipation for the imminent departure of our flight from Manchester to Vancouver. So we waited and we waited some more. At about 11:00 A.M., the pilot made an announcement. "Ladies and gentleman, we are experiencing a slight delay. The electronic baggage loading equipment has broken down and the plane (or is that a pterodactyl?) has to be manually loaded."
So I sat there figuring that we would soon be shortly on our way. Another half an hour passed and the pilot stated: "Ladies and gentleman, the plane has now been manually loaded. However, they have loaded on the wrong luggage. They now have to manually ofload the incorrect luggage and manually load on the correct luggage. If it's any consolation to you, fourteen other planes are in a similar predicament."
Gee, that made the situation so much better? How reassuring to know that your misery was being shared by loads of other folks in other planes. How reassuring as you sit in a stuffy plane with no air conditioning and one usable toilet. Still, I reckoned that soon we would be on our way, off into the blue yonder. At long last, just gone 1:30 P.M., three hours late, we left Manchester airport. My journey, an adventure that would challenge my anxiety, had finally begun.
Now when it comes to flying, I do try to do things on the cheap. So I guess it came as no surprise that I was on a plane with three classes onboard. 'First class', 'Business class' and 'Cattle'. What I didn't realise was that being in the 'Cattle' section meant that we would have to help get the 'flying dinosour' off the ground. We were instructed in the cheap seats to put our feet through the holes in the floor and shuffle our feet in a frantic motion. I found this most odd, however 'Fred' and 'Barney' sitting next to me, were well into it. So with our feet powered momentum, the flying dinosour flapped into the afternoon sky. Welcome to 'Pterodactyl Airlines'.
Over Scotland, over Iceland, over the southern tip of Greenland, our winged beast flapped. Then the route changed from the usual continuance over northern Canada. The pilot took what could be best described as a more scenic path. Below was the prairie Province of Saskatchewan and the city of Regina. From there we passed over Calgary, Alberta and got the fantastic bonus of flying over the magnificence of the Rockies. Wow!
We were now descending into Vancouver. Flying through the Coast mountain range, I glimpsed at the awesome beauty of Greater Vancouver. Seeing the wonderful vision of my other home, my other life, my other world, brought the slightest trace of a tear to my eye. What positive experiences lay before me? How well would I challenge my anxiety and low self-esteem? Brimming with positive thoughts, I prepared for the final descent into Vancouver International Airport.
The pilot came back on the loudspeaker. "Would the people in the cheap seats get ready to put their feet back through the holes in the floor. We need you to use your feet as brakes on the runway! Yikes! What the hell will that do to the remaining sole on my trainers? I think that next time I shall spend the extra money. Saving money on my flight is one thing, yet what about the cost of replacing my trainers?
We landed safely. Local time was 2:30 P.M., an hour later than the time we left Manchester. Now it was time for the joy of going through Customs. Upon reaching Customs, I could not believe the huge number of people waiting to get through. I suppose that was partly due to our three hour delay and missing our allocated landing time. I felt, like I'm sure many others, very stressed at the chaos that ensued for the next hour.
Then I got through to the reception area. Waiting very patiently were my Mum and my Stepdad. I was here in Vancouver. How thrilled I was to see them. How thrilled I was with myself. The first hurdle in my ongoing challenge to live a better life was well and truly under way. The excitement, the adrenalin surging through me, was assurance that this trip was going to better than my last visit here. I knew it, and just as significant, my family could see how much better I was. I had made a pledge to them that I would embrace a more positive life. I was inspired and I knew that over the next three weeks, I would try and be an inspiration to my dear friends from the past. Little did I know that this journey was to be even more poignant than I would ever have dreamed.
So I was at the start of a great adventure. In the following blogs, I shall tell of the great inner strength and resilience of some truly remarkable people who have come back into my life. The first day drew to a close. I thought the sun would never set that day. No 'jet lag' (or as it was called in the olden days 'propeller lag'?) heck I didn't even have 'wing lag' from being a part of the 'Pterodactyl Airlines' experience. (Okay, it wasn't really a 'flying dinosaur' I was on..as a matter of fact, the airline I was on was very good..even to us folks in the cheap seats)
So no parade in my honour upon my return to Vancouver. I was kinda' relieved about that. I mean, shucks, did I really need the embarrassment? The real honour was rediscovering and rekindling warm, sincere, friendships. I am so grateful for what I have. I thank you for your time.