10 am, London Gatwick
“Passengers are invited to remember that if they do not arrive at their departure gate in good time, it could resulting their baggage being unloaded and the aircraft departing without them.” Ah the ever so polite British.
12 pm on the plane
I’m reading the book Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley right now on the plane. I can’t put it down. Once you get past her sentimental prose, the story itself is fantastic. Especially for me. It’s about a woman who came with her husband to Kosovo and became and English teacher and through that experience learned to listen, learn and experience, rather than just teach. It has instilled in me new expectations and hopes for the year ahead. SO many thing that she talks about I hope have changed in the four years since she was here… such as living conditions, materials available… I don’t know .. those are all things you work through, as she did. However, I seriously believe it is easier now. At least now, there’s an ATM that takes foreign cards. I have access to my bank account! If not, well then I guess I’ll make do. I can only hope that I handle it with the grace and sense of humor that she seemed to in her book. We’re crossing the Adriatic Sea now, a symbolic leaving behind the familiarity of the Europe I know for obscurity, newness and complete change. The water changes colors as it pulls slowly away from the Italian shore – from sky blue to turquoise and finally into midnight blue as the depth of the waters becomes unimaginable. There’s no gradation, but clearly defines strata, as if layers of precariously balanced cliffs were stacked one on top of the other, hidden by a heavy layer of salt water that guards some ancient secret. And still, the sun dances on the ripples 33,000 feet below. I can see the heel of the boot of Italy now for the first time. Wow.
I made a friend on the plane today, Buqa (pronounced Boosha). She gave me her phone number and has promised to introduce me to her friends and help me find a place to live. She swears her friends speak better English than she does, but I understood her just fine.
The anxiety has subsided now, and a feeling of tranquility has settled over me, Partly due to the book, partly due to the relief of finally being here. It has been a long journey since I accepted this post – the one no one wanted. Huntley said in her book that she was glad she didn’t make this journey in her 30’s, that she would have been trying too hard to “accomplish” something rather than to just accept, feel and listen. I will do my best to not make that mistake. I want to know these people, to make an impact, to give whatever it is that I have.