Home. The Epilogue
Cabin crew doors to automatic and cross check
And then somewhere over the Afghan desert. 563mph, 35000ft -60oC. I close my eyes; the two double gin and tonics and can of Grolsh make my eyelids compliantly heavy. The fear that was releasing adrenaline to dance round the blood stream is washed away by the alcohol. The fear becomes ephemeral. A fear that is not from flying, rather a fear of the mundane. That the mundane will soon engulf me and the trip will be little more than a memory. A good memory at that, something to smile at, but not to touch. Something that exists in photographs, these words and in the neural magic buried deep in my skull. Intangible; flashbacks, recollections, anecdotes and stories. I don't want to be going home. I've lived for the trip and now it is over. There is no fear of flying. Dull resignation. How will I cope? Questions. 'What was it like'? Shit! How does one answer that? How do you encapsulate eight months and so many miles in a single sound bite?
Too sudden. Too little time to adjust to the reality. We really are going home. Nothing more after Calcutta. No beach, no Andaman Islands, no relaxation and preparation for re-entry home. Bam Flight BA 146. Bee Ay Ek Char Chae.
Last words to the Supermarket
It was hard to internalise the concept that we were actually home. As always it was as if we never left. Things just don't seem to change.
The saddest part was seeing how quickly we found ourselves flopping in front of the television in an evening, forgetting the gently art of conversation we had thrived on, instead sat in our own dull worlds staring at the box.
The best part was freedom from the money belt and the habit it had formed. I'd never before noticed the habit until I got a filthy from an old woman as I walked into the supermarket. I regularly feel my crotch. Well that is how it looks. I'm checking to see the money belt is still there. It must have been quite a shock for the old woman to see a thirty-year-old man gripping his groin then gasping, turning to his wife and exclaiming to his wife "it's not there!"
In the supermarket I see prams and pushchairs and baby carriers like I'd never seen before. It is a different world, one that requires adjusting to every bit as much as adjusting from an eight month trip around thirteen countries. Babies cry, are demanding and are sick and make crossing Tibet look like a breeze. The price of Pampers made me gasp. Yet the hardest part of being home was in the supermarket and all I could do was gawp at the aisle of toilet paper and wonder why?