This is the second part that I wrote while I was waiting for my final flight to Gothenburg.
The leap has been taken! That was probably the longest fall of my life, thus far.
The first thing that is required for this story is two things: An introduction and context. Introduction: I am currently sitting in the Frankfurt International Airport waiting for my final flight into Göteborg.
Context requires its own paragraph. In the week running up to today, I have been saying good-bye to various things and people. Work is one of the first things I said good-bye to. I will fully admit that I did NOT regret saying good-bye to that one. In fact, I am reallllly content to wait another year before returning to work. The second thing I told farewell to was driving. Starting today, driving is forbidden to me. A moment of silence now for the loss of this skill. ... The moment is now over. I also said good-bye to my friends. That was hard. Too hard. My friends gave me a scrapbook that Heather, Amanda, myself, and other various unknown people put together. To everyone: Thank-you for that. And thanks for the envelope of photos. It really put my relationship with everyone into perspective. I realized how much you all care about me. Yell at me later for this, but I had doubted a great number of friends that I had or didn’t know I had. I was wrong. Isn’t that a kick in the ass when you learn that you are appreciated and that others do love you. I also realized that having one cooler and a very small thing of sour puss is not a good idea for me; especially when I was already emotionally compromised. Tim Horton’s is now gone for me. I knew that this exchange was going to be hard, but I think I might go back, just for Timmies coffee (That was a joke, by-the-way).
That now brings us into today. Well, technically yesterday, but that is beside the point. I awoke early. 7:30am is considered early for a summer’s day. I packed away the last bits and bobbles that I would need. Went for breakfast; said and talked about something, I can’t remember; found Trouble, filled up her food bowl, gave her a kiss, and reminded her to play nice with the family; watched Matt and Josh load two remarkably heavy suitcases into the truck; stopped Trouble from escaping from the house; went to the bank with Mom and Matt; then drove off to the airport. We listened to music by Jack Johnson. Once at the airport, we checked in my luggage. As it turns out, one of the bags was too heavy by two kilograms. Out went a binder and a converter case into my backpack, and the over-weighted bag was cleared for take-off. While Mom, Matt, and I were waiting (with our Tim Horton’s coffee) Rick from the Fish Creek Rotary Club appeared. He was the only one from Rotary who came to see me off. Later, Dad, Rose, and Josh appeared. It seemed that there was a miscommunication. Dad thought that after we went to the bank that we would come home. We didn’t go home however. Anyway, when the rest of the gang appeared, there was more hugging and introducing everyone to Rick. Rose was tense. I think she was fretting over Dad’s probable silence in the car. But Rose: If you are reading this, and to anyone else from the Rondot clan reading this, I didn’t care when you arrived. I only cared that you DID arrive. Any who, once all was said and done, more tears were shed, final hugs exchanged and away I went through the airport.
Of course, I have issues with leaving things alone. Therefore, as I was walking through the non-existent security line, each time I saw my family I made a funny face. I heard some laughter from them.
I made it alive through security and waited for my plane. After half an hour or so, I got on the plane and was seated beside the most boorish person I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. He didn’t speak a word of English and he didn’t try to speak in any language at all. Whenever he wanted something, he pointed. That’s it, a point. Although in the grand scheme of events, one ill-mannered person makes no difference. However, this was my first encounter with anyone who couldn’t speak a language that I understood.
The plane ride was long. NINE HOURS IS WAY TOO LONG FOR ANY PLANE TRIP NO MATTER THE DESTINATION. So, to pass the time, I watched movies. Clash of the Titans, The Mentalist, Sherlock Holmes, and Invictus.
The way that we traveled was simple and well timed. The plane moved up to touch the lowest part of Greenland to swing down over-top of Edinburgh and Dusseldorf, to land in Frankfurt. We raced the sunset and then chased after the dawn. The plane was in darkness for about an hour. By the time that Invictus was finishing, the sun had risen back up over the horizon and the pilot announced that we were coming into land. That is what I call good timing.
Once landed, I waited with about fifteen other people for a bus to take us from the tarmac to the terminal. Everyone else had got on to two other buses that had arrived earlier. Once the bus arrived, I realized that I was really in Frankfurt, Germany. Then I got to the terminal and realized that airports and I don’t get along. I nearly got lost finding the connecting flights. But a very kind person pointed me in the direction that my gate was. I ended up walking along side this very tall man. He wore a blue shirt with a yellow outline of a boarder on it. He said that he was going to catch his train. I didn’t ask where. But when we split up, he wished the best of luck on my travels. I wished him luck as well. I kind of wished that I had asked his name. He was handsome.
Anyway, after i found my gate, I had half an hour, once again, to wait for my plane. Currently, I am now sitting outside of Gate A30.
Sitting on a bed is positively one of the most grounding actions ever created. It brings home the reality that home has changed. Home is longer in a valley sheltered by the mountains. Home is now a world that looks eerily similar, yet vastly different. Welcome to Sweden.
Home right now is a small hamlet called Sundsandvik. I should be more specific. Sundsandvik is not so much a hamlet as it is a collection of summer homes.
When the plane landed in Gothenburg after the shortest flight of my life in an airbus, I found myself in a faux stone building that contained a corridor, a right turn, a short flight of stairs, and baggage claim. Baggage claim was not so fun. I was standing with a heavy backpack on the ground with my Rotary Blazer covering it. It looked like a bright red flag that had fallen over top of my bag. Then the conveyor belt started. So far, so good. I wasn’t worried. There was no need to be worried yet. Suddenly, out of a great yawning in the wall, came a red suitcase. There was a rainbow fabric tied to the uppermost handle of the case. SUCCESS! One suitcase had survived! Now for the other one. Time passed and more suitcases plopped onto the conveyer belt. Then there was a lull. A pregnant wait that was terrifying. But there was nothing to fear for my second suitcase landed on the belt and was removed promptly by me.
So out of baggage claim I went. I was lucky enough to miss the random security check. A poor man in front of me was hauled over. And no, this man was dressed respectfully without any visible piercings or tattoos.
I meet my host family! And others! I meet a boy called Phillip. From Taiwan. He arrived the day before. I meet Ingrid Johansson, my third host mom. I meet her son who was leaving for Switzerland the next week. I meet Karin and Maja. My host mom and sister, respectively. Thomas, my host dad, wasn’t there. There was a problem at the summer house so he stayed there to take care of it. Karin, Maja, and I drove for about an hour to Sundsandvik. We stopped at a grocery store, brought some pasta and tomato soup and bread and then drove to the summer house.
The scenery is so similar to interior BC that I nearly thought I was in the wrong country and that someone was playing a really bad joke on me. But we eventually got to the house.
There, I met Thomas as well as some other members of the family. I don’t really remember names very well. But they were all nice and clearly have had experience with dealing with over emotional exchange students, especially the Grandpa and the Grandma. They have had three exchange students over the years, so they know what it is like for exchange students.
Maja is a bit of a mystery to me. She is quite shy but I know that she can speak English, but she is remarkably shy, rarely smiles, and is always on her cell phone. I like her.
After a quick nap, I helped Thomas and Maja make some pizza.
I have been awake now for over 24 hours with maybe an hour long nap. My mind is jumbled and incoherent. I remember crying a lot. I feel like there is a hole ripped wide open in my chest. The worst part about that hole is that I brought it on myself.