Five nervous bodies squeezed into the family car, parents in the front, three sisters in the back, a 9kg bag in the boot. Three and a half hours of in-car (almost) silence ensued.
Sometimes, the only noise in a room full of my immediate family will be my mother, sharing her burning desire to fill the silent void. The space inside the car was no different. Aside from the occasional response from me as she questioned my readiness, I was left alone to watch the countryside pass us by alongside the M4.
It dawned on me that, in my adult life, I only ever look forwards or backwards. As a child in the family car I was carried around from A to B, in the backseat, enjoying the view from the side windows. It felt like a treat to be able to take it all in again, no longer the driver. It’s interesting to revisit views from my youth with an adults perspective. I’d never noticed how pretty the surroundings are for one of the main motorway routes through the UK. Quiet moment of appreciation for UK farms and their vast rolling fields of who-knows-what.
This was not about to be my first time away from my family. By 26 I had long abused my independence. Living mostly alone from the age of 16, taking holidays with friends, hosting wild impromptu parties, living on ready meals and Wetherspoons, generally adulting to the best of my abilities. But something about having my family drive me to the airport made me feel young and vulnerable again.
With no return flight booked and my 9kgs of necessities on my back, I parted ways with my parents and sisters at airport security.
My step-dad surprised me with a tearful goodbye. Aside from that, there was no real giveaway of the magnitude of the journey ahead.
Disclaimer: No images used in this post belong to me, they have all been savagely stolen from various google sources. Thank you for your understanding.
Making no sense? Maybe start with Part 1
Or head straight to Part 3 – Pacing