Twelve Hours

December 8, 2009

“Don’t ever forget me.” Those were the last words I heard before I sadly hung up the phone. The 5 minute walk to board the airplane felt like I was being executed. I walked hesitantly, wishing my feet would just start to cement itself to the ground- the found where I was born, raised and lived for my whole life. I reached gate 90 of Ninoy Aguino International Airport and a woman probably in her 30’s was calling passengers to board the aircraft. I walked slowly towards the glass that was separating me and a Boeing 747. “Excuse me miss.” The same woman announcing was the one guarding the gate said politely. She continued: “you can board the plane now young lady.” I just nodded in reply, gave her my boarding pass and I walked inside the seemingly endless grey tunnel connecting the gate and the aircraft. I approached 36-k my ‘death chair’ for the next 12 hours. The moment I heard the doors close and saw the orange seatbelt sign light up, I knew my life ended, well the life I knew I had and now I have 12 hours to think before my new life started.

Moving is never really easy to do. Truckloads of belongings, strangers helping out almost as many as the ants that would pile up on a slice of cake, how hard can moving get? So hard, that the one moving gets stressed out and her whole world freezes as she tries to contain herself from bursting like a bubble. In my case, I had 4 bags of luggage, a backpack, my pillow, a perky stewardess, a pilot and over 100,000 kg of big, fat steel that flies. They were all the things I needed to move, from one country to another. 11 more hours until my new life… I started to empty out the contents of my bulging backpack- A box full of letters, a photo album, and other memorabilia items that I have received from my friends. I t has only been an hour and I wanted to jump off the plane and escape my unknown future. In a rush, reality strikes, ouch! It does bite. My heart pumped faster and faster. I was scared. I have always wondered how prisoners felt in solitary confinement; well wonder is over because I just found out. No one was there to hold me, I was alone, and a river with thorns started flooding my face. I grew pale, I felt numb. Tick-tock, 10 more hours till the big fat steel that flies, lands its feet to an unfamiliar ground.

I looked up and the seatbelt sign was off. I tried to stand but an old lady beside me was snoring like an active volcano that was about to erupt. I hate airplanes, the way they smelled, looked and the way the seats are arranged and lined up for the outmost inconvenience for its passengers. I felt disgusted; I hated the lilac, floral printed seats, navy blue seatbelts, Barbie-doll faces of the stewardess and the unbelievably flat so-called pillow they give out. Tick-tock, 9 more long uncomfortable hours to go…

I slid open the oval-shaped window they had beside each window seat. I saw the tiny stars twinkling quietly beneath the ocean of blackness. I wish my life was peaceful. I looked around me and surprisingly, everyone was asleep. On the other hand, I couldn’t sleep; my mind was like a busy sidewalk in NYC like the ones you’d see on TV. Every man and woman walking was like everything I was scared of, thought of and the people were actually people I care about. All the happy memories, even sad walked passed me. Nothing but a frown was painted on my face. I glanced back outside one more time and realized the difference of the busy sidewalk I had in mind and the serene ocean of stars, for some reason, even though I wished that my life was as peaceful as the sky, I would still prefer my sidewalk. As busy and crowded as it may be, it is still good, happy and exciting. Too many thoughts and finally, I was tired.

Tick-tock 5 more hours to go… Before I opened my eyes, I wished hard that I was in my room and the whole me in an airplane was just a nightmare. As my brain started to function again, my senses were awake and I heard the rustling of food trays, carts along the aisle, children playing and the lavatory doors open and close constantly. I opened my eyes slowly and sadly, Mt. Vesuvius was still right beside me. I opened the windows again, there were fewer stars this time and the glass was moist and it felt really cold just like how I felt inside. I was shivering inside and out. I have never felt so alone before.

Tick-tock-tick-tock 4 more hours… Time is moving too slow. In my head, the walk sign turned green and the sidewalk became busy again. Not only that, my emotions started to blend itself just like a mango a-go-go jamba juice of mixed emotions. At least I had a little happiness in me; I was going to live with my mom. After years and years of separation, for the first time after a long while, I was going to see her. I have been longing to hug her and feel her tight squeeze on my body. I was starting to be optimistic. Tick-tock 3 more hours to go…

I started packing all the stuff I took out from my backpack. It hasn’t been that long but I already missed my country, my friends and the rest of my family, my dog, my room, my old school. Every little thing I owned and every person I knew just popped in my head just like popcorn. All of a sudden, I just realized how much they mean to me. I regret not telling them how much they mean to me. I regret not telling them how much I love them, how grateful I am just to know them and how much I appreciate their worth. I sighed heavily, there’s no more turning back. I opened the shade once more and slowly light seeped in. It was the sunrise, it was so breathtaking and it made me hopeful that maybe this is not such a bad idea; that maybe everything would be ok, that maybe I was just being an instigator. “I should give this a chance” I whispered to myself. “Don’t worry I’ll never forget you best friend.” I pictured her in my head and a smile came out. I leaned over towards the window more and I saw land. It may be unfamiliar for now but as a start at least I knew it was San Francisco. At last we landed.

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