“You are such a brat. Your biggest stress was whether you will get your visa for Canada or go to Seattle earlier!”
If I had been a dwarf from Snow White at that time I would have been Bashful. But, I always say big is relative. So, depending on my current First World problem-mindset, I would say that as much fun as travelling is, it can be quite stressful. Especially if you’re a Muslim from Pakistan travelling in North America on your own. Also, ever since I missed my flight in Nashville (I was sweetly content in the airport lounge right in front of our gate. Except I had headphones on and my back to the gate. I don’t know how it happened but the plane took off without me and my little sister who was ecstatic that I had made such a bewildering error), I have become a nervous traveler.
I worry about reaching the airport too early, or too late, about baggage weight and excess fees, about floundering at the scanning machine because I have to take off my shoes, my laptop, my little cosmetic baggie, about not getting the window seat on the plane, about getting the window seat and having someone chubby sit next to me who will fall asleep and then how will I go to the bathroom, which I will definitely need to go to during the flight? Missing the flight, losing my bag, managing to put my bag up in the overhead compartment, will they put too much ice in my beverage again? Will the flight land on time, will the people who are supposed to pick me up be there?
To cut a whiny story short, it can be stressful when you’re travelling alone. And sleeping on couches, and living out of a suitcase, you know the deal. It gets a little tiring.
Two days in Windsor chilling out with Reem and then the Greyhound (where I did not encounter any murderers or racist drivers as Reem had warned) to Kitchener, where my twin lives. And, you know, this is what home feels like. I may be in a new city, where it gets chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt in the night, and the hallway smells of Indian food, where it seems safe to walk outside at 11 pm, and the streets are clean and neat, the shops lit up and fancy, but I have my own bed, and space in the closet. I even got a couple of hangers! There are pictures of LUMS, which make me sad and happy together, and conjure up so many memories I get lost every now and then, falling backwards into a pile of feather pillows.
My twin cooked food for me the first night, and the second night we cooked together, making creamy avocado pasta and avocado fries. We walked for more than two hours, dipping our feet in an artificial waterfall, taking pictures on timer and even finding time to finish a Sudoku puzzle, just like we did during our sub-editor training.
We spent two hours looking up things to do and scribbling them down in her notebook, just like we did during the four years at LUMS and afterwards in Karachi.
It’s fun to be with old friends, who can finish your sentences, and make fun of you constantly, and hit you, and see the light bulb go off in your brain a second before it does and burst into sporadic giggling fits, and talk about a hundred different people you both know, and share mild gossip, and find out all the things we have in common even when we’re living in different countries.
Today was a good day. We walked to Waterloo University, had cool drinks from Tim Hortons, saw cute baby ducks, slightly less cute baby ducks and a haughty baby goose. Also a baby squirrel that was either gutsy or blind, because it came right up to our sneakers and Hera got quite freaked out. And we planned out this weekend (Niagara! Woohoo!), and the next (Montreal! Double woohoo! I’m trying to convince my friends we must wear red lipstick one of them days in fashionable Montreal).
I love road trips, and these girls. We’re definitely made for travelling with one another!