[All names have been changed to protect privacy.]
We sit in Chick-fil-a, eating in near silence.
The Last Supper.
I’m excited, and a little bit sad, and my mouth hurts from the new wire that the orthodontist put in my braces a few minutes before. I’m about to do something that I’ve never done before, and, although I’d counted down the days, I’m not sure I am ready at all.
We finish, and go outside into the bleak, foggy cold. It’s only about three or four o’ clock, but clouds obscure the sky, making me feel even more jittery than I am.
I hug my younger sister first. She’s almost as tall as I am. When did she grow up? I don’t remember her being this big.
My littlest sister.
My little brother.
Finally, my mother. “I love you. Be safe,” she says, smiling sadly.
I try to make my words sound goofy, reassuring. “I’ll certainly try!”
I will certainly try, Mom.
I hop in the other van–12 passenger? I’m not sure–and sit in the back with Kay-Leigh. Everyone else was already seated.
Kay-Leigh gives me her iPod Touch and I snap a quick selfie, everyone in the van, smiling at the camera.
“You know you’re going with teenagers when there are group selfies,” one of the men remarks, Ted. I’ve only just met him, but I am taller than him by a few inches.
“I just wanted to mark the occasion!” Kay-Leigh protests.
I don’t say anything.
Ted starts the car and we drive out of the Chick-fil-a parking lot. I wave one last time to my family in our car, still parked on the black asphalt.
We drive out of town, onto the highway, and the fog is thick.
We drive and drive. And drive.
Through towns that I don’t know the names of.
Past people walking alone, the fog swirling around them like cloaks.
And finally, out of the fog.
I can see the sun now; it’s bright and blinding. And the fog behind us stands like a black fog.
I feel free for some reason.
A few hours later, it gets dark fast. Soon, the sun is gone again, this time blocked out by the night-time.
We pick up a man named Jesse on the way. He looks like Mark Gatiss, and then, I can’t stop thinking about Sherlock, and the Reichenbach Fall.
Jesse drives us in the dark to the brightly lit airport.
Now I am very jittery.
Jesse unloads all of the luggage that we have, which is quite a lot. Airplanes don’t allow totes on flights anymore, for some reason, so everything that we’re bringing for everyone there has to fit in suitcases. He says goodbye, and then drives away.
Soon, we are in the airport, and we have all of the suitcases and bags marked. The people working for the airport take the luggage away, and I don’t see it again for several hours.
I’ve never been through security, so all of the people behind me look very mad because I’m slower at this than they are.
I feel strange without my shoes.
I should have worn handknit socks. Then I would feel more confident..
I do not have any questionable objects on me, so I’m free to go. I put my shoes back on and wait for the rest of the group.
They take Dad’s peanut butter away.
I finish knitting the first Petty Harbour sock, which had been frogged, and start on the next one.
I notice several people stealing glances at the knitting, quickly looking away when I smile at them. I can’t help but wondering if they knit, but are just too shy to say anything.
They don’t look shy.
Then, on the plane.
“How are you?” asks one of the flight attendants, a short African-American man with short hair and large glasses.
“I’m a little nervous.”
“This is your first flight? Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.”
Then it was time for me to move forward, and I thank him, and find my seat.
The seat next to the window seat.
Pretty soon, everyone has been seated and the plane drives into position.
Speeds up on the runway.
Lifts up off the ground.
I am in the air.
I am flying.
I am next to Ted. He reassures me that I’ll be fine.
He goes to sleep.
In the row in front of me, Kay-Leigh and Dad sound like they’re having a lot of fun talking to the lady next to them. She’s going back to the Dominican Republic to visit her family.
The lady next to me plugs in her EarPods and goes to sleep. I think that she growled at me before she did that, though.
I don’t want to talk to anyone, anyway.
Five hours later, I can see the lights of New York below me.
Back home, we live in a town with lots of farm land around it, and the lights remind me of fields of crops, except instead of crops, this field is home to millions of people.
We land, and the attendant says, “Welcome To New York.”
In the airport, we have a very close connection.
We get our tickets verified and step into the line going in the plane. Behind me, Kay-Leigh tries to make small talk with the man behind her.
“When I get to Haiti, what can I expect?”
She speaks in a slower voice, pronouncing her words distinctly. “When I get to Haiti, what will I see?”
He shakes his head and looks at her strangely.
“When I”–she points to herself–“get to Haiti”–points forward to where the plane is, down the corridor–“what”–shrugs her shoulders–“will I see?” Then she makes glasses with her fingers and puts them to her own glasses.
In a heavily accented voice he says, “I don’t know.”
He walks past us and into the plane.
I look at her, and she deflates. “I should have just said ‘Bon jour’.”
“Yes, you should have.”
We walk on the plane and sit, hoping to catch some sleep in the early hours of the morning.
I look out the window. It is snowing hard. I watch the snow for a while, and soon, it isn’t snowing anymore.
The sun rises, and I can’t see anything but the sea below and the blue sky.
And then, I see it.
The plane begins its descent to the ground.
“Welcome to Haiti.”
After getting everything together, we file out of the plane and are greeted by a band of men playing loud instruments.
We get our passports stamped and do some very official-sounding things.
We find all of our luggage, which takes about a half-an-hour.
We take our things to the door.
And we step out.