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Amsterdam, angst and Dan Part 1: Of Monsters and Men

December 27, 2012

I was tempted to write this whole thing out like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme, but I honestly don’t have the energy, creativity or vocabulary. So here goes my first crack at a bit of sensible travel writing.

I don’t remember the moment I agreed to go to Amsterdam, or why. I guess it wasn’t long after I’d got involved with CHAT, I was feeling pretty good, reasonably confident, and in control, and said yes before I could second guess myself. My mother booked it as a Christmas present to my brother and me before I could change my mind, which I did about an hour later, when it was too late to unbook. Insurance was eventually sorted, I got my EU “I have a disease” card from the NHS, and all was set. The slow release adrenaline began its corrosive trickle into my system.

A couple of months became a couple of weeks became a couple of days, until one day I woke up and realised it was tomorrow. I’d been packed ready for a couple of days, to minimise stress and the chances of forgetting anything. I double, triple, quadruple, pentuple, and sixtuple-checked that I had my insulin and other meds sorted, with enough clothes to change fresh for five days. Even though I was only to be staying three days, I wanted to maximise my comfort there, and knew how much walking I’d be doing.

The morning came and there was plenty of stress. None by me, I was somehow very zen until we got to the airport, but my mother was freaking out. I don’t remember why. My brother’s bag broke or something. Could have been anything with her. So we  left.

I was nervous about the journey. It was to take about an hour to get from here to Bristol, and I know my track history of being in the car. I’ve never been particularly good at it. I usually start to get antsy around the 35, 40 minute mark. This is part of why I stopped going to Newport to do ninjutsu and fencing (though getting caught in the crotch with a full power lunge did nothing to keep me there.) So I made it to the airport no problem. I went to the toilet and took a picture of me standing in front of a mirror that had Bristol Airport painted on it, just to prove to myself I’d made it this far.

It was around this point that my monster woke up with a yawn and kicked me in the bits.

There was a subway stall in the airport, so I cashed in the free cookie voucher I got for my birthday three days before from Subway, and used some vouchers to save my mother some money buying everyone a roll, but I couldn’t stomach mine. I nibbled my cookie and ate about half, but I was freaking out like I haven’t for a long time. I was with my mother and her friend Alan, and my brother – none of whom I think fully understand my condition, or how I deal with it, or how to deal with me. Richard and Alan spoke among themselves, Alan occasionally directing a question at me, but I think they could all see I was struggling badly. My mother, no doubt worried sick as I’m sure I looked like I was dying (I certainly felt like it), kept asking if I was ok, which made every couple of minutes I was given the choice to give in to my monster and give her energy and power over me, or lie to my mother. Sorry, mum, you got lied to, and often. Though I tried to do so diplomatically, by opting for an ambiguous grunt which was actually about all I could muster anyway. Thankfully Andrew took time out of work to text me back when I directed my panic in his direction. I met Andrew at a CHAT course so we could speak the same language regarding monsters and control words, and he reminded me to recite affirmations to myself. They took the edge off a little but such was my anxiety it was like protecting myself against a scalpel by putting a jumper on. It did just enough to keep me going, though.

At length my mother left, and my option to back out went away. At this point I got zen again. It took a few minutes but very soon the roll and cookie were gone, and it became an adventure. This was helped by airport security seeing me injecting my insulin after eating my roll and taking a few steps toward me, before, I assume, noticing my blood testing meter and stuff on the table as well, and going back to their stations. I chuckled about that and it helped ease the tension.

I think we had to wait for three hours before going into the boarding area. I had my kindle with me, thankfully, which helped kill time. Eventually it was close enough to the flight that we could go through. This was where I put my life in my brother’s hands, since he’d made the trip a few times previously, and this was my first time further into an airport than the main lobby.

It was this bit that has always scared me most about flying, more even than the flying itself. I could never make much sense of the rules and conditions and everything else, it always overwhelmed me when I tried to find out ahead of time. Thankfully the various stand up comedy acts I’ve seen centred on airport security didn’t apply to Bristol Airport (or Amsterdam on the way back) and aside from having my shampoo confiscated it was smooth enough. Humiliating slightly, trying to hold my jeans up while scrabbling to get my many metallic things (belt, phone, keys, kindle, etc) out of that tray you have to put it all in. From there it was a long walk and a long queue and a long wait.

Speaking of clichés, the one about sexy air stewardesses didn’t apply that day; I was shown the safety procedures by a guy who looked like a Hitler youth graduate.

The flight was interesting. Lot of turbulance. I was very calm, though – at that point you have no real choice, I think, if anything happens you’re gonna be involved in it, and it’s pointless to worry about it. But then I find in my life when things get real I’m the most calm person there. It’s only when things MIGHT go wrong that I’m freaking out. It’s a lot like that episode of Father Ted, where the plane’s running out of fuel, and because he spends so much time worrying, when something is really going wrong, it’s all channelled into positive action, and he’s fine. This comparison will be drawn again later, in part 3.

And so, at 9pm, the same time as I left Bristol airport, my brother and I landed.

I was in Amsterdam.

(Did you get chills? I did xD)

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From → Empowerment, Personal

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