The Day has finally come. The day I leave the ocean to go back home, to Canada.
It is a bright sunny day and in the morning I go around the boat to check if I got everything I need. All my things are already stuffed in my bags; it’s time to take off.
„Goodbye beach and saltwater, but I never liked you to start with.“
We kayak to the beach, take a taxi to the airport, and check in my boarding pass and luggage. When the time comes, I hug my family, grab my bag and go into the airport. I go through the door alone. And all of a sudden… the world becomes silent. No more parents to talk to, to laugh with, to hug. I am on my own from now on. I am excited. So excited that when my parents wave goodbye I don’t care.
I sit near my gate entrance unsure of what to do next. I wait. Then I march in line with unknown people who I will never meet again into the plane that will take me to New York from where I have to take another plane to Montreal.
The best part of planes is the takeoff. I can’t help myself when the speed accelerates crazy fast. I feel like I’m oozing so much adrenaline that my unsure facial expression turns into a „FASTER, FASTER MOTHER F****** SHOW ME WHAT YOU CAN DO!!!“ expression.
But the worst part of planes is the flight… I watch an audioless movie and wait, as usual. The change of altitude and freaking AC turn my tanned skin pale and my leg hair to a porcupine’s. I am extremely cold, almost frozen, and I need to pee, but by being an anti-social person I am scared to ask someone where can I find a restroom… I hold it during the entire flight.
„We are ten minutes from arrival“ the pilot says, which makes me so happy. My bladder is about to explode. And then, at the New York terminal’s restroom, I take the longest piss a human can ever take. „F***, yesss!“.
I am in New York. I fill a check-in form for the United States and I hand it over to the immigration officer. Next thing, he asks me is to follow him. He is leading me to the opposite direction of all the other people from my plane which creates stress within me.
„Am I in trouble?!“ I ask.
„There is an… issue.“ he replies.
I arrive in a room and take a seat. I am freaking out, I am alone, I feel lost, and I haven’t recuperated my bag from the plane. Some immigration officer starts asking me questions. It has to do with the past and my parents immigration problems. After thirty long minutes of interrogation he finally reaches for a handshake and tells me „Welcome to America“.
Now my priority number one is to find my bag. All those rotating things where my bag is supposed to be are empty. And then I see a person loading lots of bags into a cart. I run towards him while he loads bag number one. I sprint towards him while he loads bag number two. And as I get closer I see my bag. „Holy s*** that’s my bag“ I grab it.
Now I am happy and the only thing left to do is to find my gate and wait all night until the morning, and then catch my next plane.
The world is louder now.
I find a wall with electrical plugs! Everything is okay now. Now all I need to do is to play on my computer all night and then catch my next plane and finally arrive at my friends’ house content that I have finished the first step of my independent life. And then I can eat and go to sleep. But that’s too good to be true.
All night I play and watch movies and shows on my computer. There are no chairs to sit on so I simply sit on the floor, back straight, with a pc on my lap.
As I am playing and watching movies other kids my age also waiting overnight for a flight in the morning come and sit next to me and watch me play games all night. No conversation though. And now my butt hearts from sitting on the floor. The pain is unbearable.
4 a.m. It’s time to take my two bags, pack up my computer and go home, in Canada, „Yay!“.
I wait on a chair and I am falling asleep which is really bad because if I fall asleep I’ll miss my flight and I’m screwed. So, after 5 more hours of waiting and trying not to fall asleep my plane is announced „Delayed“ which means that I have to wait… again.
Thirty minutes later my flight is canceled!
The world becomes dark and silent again. I am nearly crying. I am looking at the screen at my flight’s status: CANCELED.
„What do you mean it’s canceled? This is f*** bull****. This is my first time traveling by plane, alone, and this was not meant happen!“ I am tired, hungry, afraid and angry knowing that in 1 hour I’m supposed to be at my friends’ house.
To prevent me from crying I think to myself „Keep it together“. This thought is my only comfort but I would gladly trade it for one of my parents’ warm hugs.
The other kids my age have phones and are calling their parents to come and pick them up because the flight is canceled, but me… I’m alone, inexperienced and have no phone to call anyone. I almost burst into tears not knowing what to do.
I wait in line. A lady issues me a new plane ticket to Montreal, a food voucher, and a taxi/bus pass. She tells me what I have to do now but I am so tired and stressed out that I memorize two things only. „Go to door 7“ and „Go to another airport“.
I look at my new ticket. The plane isn’t flying directly to Montreal, its going somewhere west of New York where I will have to change planes again with just 30 minutes between flights. Departure time 6:45 p.m.
Okay, now I have to wait all the way to 6:45 p.m. and I haven’t slept all night. But waiting will have to wait. First I have find „door 7“.
I am heading back to the main terminal and while I am riding the escalator my dad shows up, in my mind. I realize then that when I hugged my family I didn’t do it long enough or good enough. That hug was the last one I was gonna get from them until who knows when.
„Keep it together“ saves me from crying again.
I am so tired I’m losing awareness.
Outside the airport a kind policeman helps me to find a taxi. The driver is already loading some other people’s bags. I show him my taxi pass, get my things loaded, and talk with the other people in the taxi who are in the same situation like me. There is one girl in a wheelchair and another girl named Camille, short, with glasses. They are both really kind but I am almost asleep and it is my subconscience doing all the talking and actions.
I arrived at the second airport after 30 minutes of comfortable taxi-seat ride. I go through the same procedure of checking in my luggage and getting a boarding pass. I keep my personal bag only again. The time is 11:00 a.m.
Once at the terminal my flight number is nowhere to be found on the screens plus my boarding pass isn’t signed which makes it invalid and I have to wait 1 more hour before they can clear things up. This time I don’t get nervous because I’m too unaware and too tired. After they fix their own mistake I am free to roam the terminal, „Yay!“.
I wait at the gates and try to fall asleep on the most uncomfortable-looking chairs there. I wake up after 2 hours.
„My eyes aren’t open yet but when I open them I want to wake up on the boat“ I open my eyes. I am still at the airport. „Keep it together“. My flight number is still missing on the screens.
„Am I in the wrong airport“ I ask a lady and she tells me that I’m in the right airport and that my flight is after 6 hours and a half. So I decide to sleep some more and I keep waking up every time a new plane is announced. And every time I wake up I see at least 200 people waiting for their planes which makes me realize in what kind of desperate situation I’m in.
Now it’s 4:30 p.m. and the airport is warm compared to the last one. I can’t sleep anymore so I walk around looking at the food stands but unsure of how to redeem the food voucher I don’t eat thinking that I will eat when I arrive.
„Beep beep“ goes my watch. Its 6:30 p.m. and there is a message on the board. My flight is 1 hour late, meaning I can’t make the switch to my second flight, meaning… I have to exchange tickets again.
I’m angrier than ever and I’m losing it. „F******* twice!!!“
More than one person is pissed off; there are other people too who need to get to Montreal.
Now, I have to wait on a two-hour long line for a new ticket. I’m alone, tired, hungry and unaware. I’m so mad that someone will die if this doesn’t end soon.
Get this: the flight that takes me away from my family is flawless but the one that is supposed to lead me to my new home screws me over… twice.
I see Camille crying on her phone but I’m too tired to start weeping like her. This can’t be happening to me twice on my first time flying… I am about to collapse as the man behind me starts getting angry as well from of all this nonsense. That man saves me.
„Sir, can I borrow your phone?“ I ask.
I know my mom and dad are worrying about me. It’s been 9 hours since I’m supposed to be in Montreal, so I call my friends’ dad to let him know that I’m fine and I will call him again when I have a confirmed flight.
„Thank you sir“ I tell the man who gave me his phone.
„What language were you speaking there?“ he asks.
Eric, a Norwegian, is a kin old man, and together we start talking and bitching about all this nonsense. Today is his birthday and he’s supposed to be in somewhere in Canada celebrating with his friends. I tell him my story and also about my parents and how they are successful with their life doing what they love. Eric is a very nice guy and thanks to our conversation my anger literally vanished. It made the 2 hours waiting seem like 10 short minutes. I will remember your soothing voice all my life, thank you Eric.
Finally I arrive at that bloody ticket booth and they exchange my ticket once more and tell me my next flight is tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Eric is luckier and gets his next flight today.
I wait all night and all day and now they want me to wait all night again. I say my goodbyes to Eric and I feel much better; full of confidence and wisdom.
I decide to use my food voucher which has a 12$ value. One lady explains to me how to redeem my food voucher. She is smiling and is so kind and nice to me that I feel much more confident that this airport fight can be won. I spend my food voucher on a pizza so huge and filling that I can’t finish it all. I feel mature and proud. I buy my own food, talk effortlessly to people, and feel like everything is going to be fine in the end.
Its 8:00 p.m. I’m full, hydrated but very tired and 9/10 unaware. So I decide to go sleep on my sleeping spot at the gates which is great because I found the perfect position to sleep on those chairs. But it’s not long before a security officer wakes me up and tells me that this part of the airport is closing. This meant I can’t sleep there tonight. Instead, it’s another ass-hurting game-play night. I transfer movies to my i-pod and charge my headphones.
This area of the airport is very very cold.
„Is this what it feels like dying?“ I ask myself.
Around 3:00 a.m. I feel like I have jumped butt first from a building.
„I need to see an ass doctor please“
I wait in line to get my boarding pass and they tell me that my flight is on another airport. Which is stressful but I got use to worse case scenarios up until now. So I ask an official where and how to get there. They tell me and I take a bus and go to airport number 3. I get there, everything’s going “smoothly”, until I remember something. I’m not sure if my luggage will be transferred okay.
One hour later I fall asleep at my gate and wake up from time to time asking officials if my flight’s been canceled. I do this at least twenty times. Behind me there is a window and I look through it every time I hear a plane.
At around 10:00 a.m. one plane stops nearby.
„Is that my plane?!“
The plane gets loaded with bags and I’m wondering if my bag is there, so I observe with my heavy eyelids, getting heavier by the second. My bag isn’t there and boarding starts. Turns out I’m boarding a different plane but that doesn’t guarantee my bag’s existence there.
The seats are uncomfortable, meaning my ass is destroyed and it stays destroyed for the next hour until I arrive in Montreal. Arrived in Montreal I am: tired, unaware, hungry, worried, dirty and zombiefied in the worst way.
When I get off the plane and follow the people going to collect their bags my bag… isn’t there. That bag is important to me. It contains all my shoes and clothes and my dad’s expensive North Face jacket that costs over 700$. Now I feel ashamed. My dad entrusted me his jacket because he knew I’d need it in Canada but now that I lost it he will think that I’m irresponsible and a horrible son.
This time „Keep it together“ doesn’t work. I cry. I’m physically and mentally destroyed. I follow the signs to get out. Then I see a sign with a luggage picture on it. I follow it to see if my bag is by any chance there. I look around like a dying hobo. Suddenly the world brightens up. My big blue bag is sitting a few meters away from me. Despite my destroyed self I sprint towards it, for the second time, and retrieve it with so much joy that it feels like hugging parents after this long nightmare.
I look around looking for my friends’ dad who is supposed to pick me up, but I don’t see him. I approach the exit doors. And then out of nowhere… „Hey Vik!“
I have passed The Rite of Passage.