Continuation from Fiction #7
I boarded that flight from Manila to Hong Kong, my head held high, the cool recycled air was welcoming compaired to the sticky humidity I was leaving. I took my seat, and stared out the window. I was alone, so very alone and absolutely terrified. Nothing over the last week seemed to sink in completely, I felt like I had been constantly punched, harder and harder, yet I couldn’t feel anything. My eyes were burning from crying, my head pounded constantly. I looked out to a country I knew so well, and the only home I understood, I had no idea what I would find when I got to Vancouver, I had only lived in Ottawa, and my 3 years there in elementary school was my only introduction to Canada and its culture.
I must have slept walked through both flights and transfer, what felt like an eternity, also seemed to pass at light speed. I got off the flight and made my way to the meeting area. There was my Aunt, Auntie Pam, perfectly manicured, in a perfectly ironed red jumpsuit with gold buttons and a pair of pearls, her blonde hair was perfectly curled, she smiled tightly. She was everything my Mother wasn’t, she woke up perfectly manicured and ready to plan everyone’s life like the Stepford wives. While my Mother played the part of Ambassador’s wife in a wild eccentric way, my Aunt was quite demure, and the perfect White Anglo Saxon wife (WASP), my Mother was loud, brash, studied every language, volunteered, and had her PHD, she never conformed, and embraced every culture a person just as they were. My Auntie Pam on the other hand, was controlling, very proper and reserved, without an ounce of imagination or humour in life, not to say she wasn’t full of love, she was, her children were everything, and she loved my Mother fiercely, she just didn’t understand my Mother’s lifestyle.
My Auntie Pam hugged me, holding back tears. She quickly ushered me out of the airport, the temperature was cool, and rainy. I had been there several times through the years, but it never left a lasting impression on me. I only had a suitcase, I had no idea when I would see the rest of my clothing, or furniture. The packers came and quickly packed up the house in Manila, but no one told me what would happen to all the things in storage, or when I would see anything that had been packed.
Auntie Pam spoke nervously and quickly. She had organized for me to start school in a week, the sooner I started the better off I would be in settling in. The whole drive to Tsawwassen (a suburb of Vancouver), my Aunt did not stop talking, I blocked out her nervous chatter and stared out the window. It looked so foreign in its neatly organized lanes, groomed lawns, and openness.
We pulled up to my Aunts house, only a few lights were on, it was pretty late at night. I looked at the house with its modern lines, beautifully groomed lawn, and felt like I was in the wrong neighbourhood. My Aunt ushered me into the house, her chatter non stop, she brought me to the spare room, where I had spent many weeks over the years, usually bored. It was a hospital white, with dark wood floors, a plane dark sleigh bed, white sheets and white comforter, a tiny white bedside table, and a small closet. There was a small en suite bathroom, which was a welcome relief, at least I didn’t have to share a bathroom with my cousins. The room was sad in its plainness, it had no personality, spark. It felt naked, just like me.
I didn’t know what else to do, but sit on the bed, hoping Auntie Pam would just stop talking and leave me alone. Auntie Pam finally stopped and looked at me.
“Sorry dear, I know this is overwhelming, we will figure it out, I promise.”
I nodded, making no effort to smile.
Auntie Pam left and closed the door, leaving me alone again. I stripped off my clothes got into the shower to clean up, I sat in the shower shaking, unable to cry. When I finally got out, I got into a t-shirt and sweatpants and sat by the window looking out into the ocean, an ocean that connected my old life with my new one. I must have finally noded off sitting up, because I woke up with my head on the window and a horrible pain creeping up my legs and spine. I got up and looked at the clock, it was 6am. I went to find a sweatshirt and running shoes.
I left out the front door, and began to run, letting the cold air numb my thoughts and focus just on my steps. I knew this route, it had been a savior during the boring weeks I had to visit family over the summer when we were abroad. The more I ran, the more everything went numb. I made my way back to my Auntie Pam’s house, where I found my Aunt sitting on the front step with a cup of coffee, looking perfectly put together. As I approached, she quickly told me that she had to drop off my cousins at school, and run errands. My uncle had left early for work, and would see me later. Auntie Pam asked if I would be o.k alone for a while.
I nodded. I was soaked from a mixture of rain and perspiration.
I walked in, went to my room and went back into the shower, crying and heaving. I didn’t understand this life or this world.
The week leading up to my first day of Canadian school was a blur. The only time I felt anything was at night, when my dragon would wake up and need to be fed. Every night, my dragon would keep me awake, hungry for my anxiety, and wouldn’t go to sleep until the morning I had to get ready for school.
Like a normal morning, I got ready for school, the routine was to wake up, get dressed, stuff my face and head out the door. This time, Uncle Tom was dropping me off, making sure I knew where I was going. I stood at the front of the massive charcoal grey structure, with a massive Canadian flag flying. It was time to put on a brave face, and become invisible, a skill I was good at using when starting a new school.
I walked in and made my way to homeroom, all eyes on me, fixed on me.