To Hel and Back :: Edit your Template To Hel and Back: December 2004

Friday, December 31, 2004

Leaving London

Just like when I left for Russia, I am looking at the clothing of the people waiting with me for the flight and knowing it's going to be something else, this cold. We all carry coats, have layers, pockets stuffed with gloves, scarves looped for now through bags.

There is blue tarpaulin when I arrive at Helsinki so those returning from Tsunami affected regions can return to their homes and families without media intrusion. I get lost in this and almost think he is not here to collect me. But he is.

I only remember thinking "I can't have a sauna with you" and sipping hot chocolate and nibbling delicious chocolate nutty heart biscuits in the Russian tea room that has become a favourite.

A toe is stubbed and full of panic and guilt, I am left in Helsinki while he is Dad. I have expected this. My map suggests that at Molly Malones, there are no such things as strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. I choose that as my destination but as there is still some time before midnight, I reutrn to the hotel and watch the news.

The scale of the disaster has yet to hit me. For days I have been immersed in the world of the homeless in London. Even though creative writing classes brought their writings of the pity and sympathy, it has not yet registered. Tonight, watching BBC news, hearing the Bahasa and understanding the torment behind it, I cry. I text my mother love. Blinking LCD characters that say I miss her.

The hotel is decorated with the well dress bored youth but outside it's woolly hats and gloves. I have layers and layers until I get to Mollys where I first learn about quick undressing and paying coatmen.

No one talks to me. I knock back scotch quickly and neatly as if it might get the crowd more drunk and friendly. I ask the bar tender for more Scotch, less ice, less dry.

At ten minutes to midnight I stop winking at lone men. I move to couples, a group of immigrants, I will not wish myself a happy new year.

Comb-over from Kuopio is interested. He feels I can't stand unless he puts his hand on the small of my back and leans very close so I can't miss the spittle from his new English. I lean away even further and we do a dangerous dance, he to make contact, me to avoid.

A business card is given, a tour is promised, where was he from and what did he do? I can't remember but it saved me from comb-over.

At midnight there is no kissing, only the band counts down and I don't recall Auld Langs Syne being sung.

Not soon enough he is back from the hospital and I run from my scotch, the men, the coats.

But it's too late, the year has already begun like this. Alone. It's a sign that I ignore for several months.