I was a 21 year old girl at the time I came to Mexico; alone and with a pocket full of dreams and teabags. But before this could come about, I had to feel like I was constantly going to die of fear for a long time. Below is an abridged version of my last day in England before I discovered the place I now call home, Mexico City, and before I fell in love with places, people and animals. If you’re thinking of making a big change in your life, like moving across the earth, I will just share this phrase that my friends and I said to each other when we thought we weren’t brave enough to do it:
“A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships were meant for”- John A Shedd.
In the bath.
I was at my grandma’s house, when she still lived in the big house on Horbury Road, the one with the long kitchen that partly extended into the garden where I once thought I saw a ghostly hand reaching over the fence. I stood in the kitchen and stared down at the weird green counter tiles. No one apart from my grandma had tiles covering their kitchen counters anymore and these ones were a hypnotizing snot colour. I liked their loyalty. I would miss them.
Twelve days had passed and with each one the excitement and joy had been extracted from me bit by bit. I felt the air escaping from my mouth as a bullying grip squeezed my lungs. My chest crumpled tighter when it was time to leave. Goodbye. I’ll miss you, you too and you. Bye! I’ll write you a postcard! Haha, yeah I know, I’ll be careful don’t worry…bye!
On the way home from my grandma’s house all of that week’s goodbyes began to ooze over me like hot lava and as it solidified it trapped me against the car seat. I felt nauseous. I wanted to feel sad but I couldn’t muster up enough breath to blubber or even say anything out loud. There were no words that could explain the buzzing in my blood for the past month. My body felt stiff like a wire cloth and my insides felt dry and tired.
I stood in my own kitchen for a while. Should I eat? Not hungry. Television is stupid. I don’t want to talk to people because I’ve already said goodbye to them and by talking to them again that would mean I would have to say goodbye again. I have a headache. I feel so dry.
I took all my clothes off and sat in the bath like a naked child. I usually hate baths because I get too sweaty and I think too much whilst I’m sat there but that particular night when I got home my thoughts buzzed so fast that they hummed to me, so I didn’t mind. I lay in the grey water with my feet half submerged. My blobby legs wobbled with every drip of the tap. I left the bathroom door open so that I could hear the creaks of the house beyond the bathroom light.
A slow smudgy black tear rolled down my cheek. I hadn’t expected to cry because I had felt so dry before but it made sense for the tear to want to become a part of the water, reunited with its brothers and sisters. Perhaps by sitting there in that water for a while I had absorbed some of it so that I could cry it back out again. Recycling. It felt nice. I felt relieved. And as soon as one tear had run down my cheek, others grew confident. They all joined forces and tip-toed down my neck and over my breasts like drops of dirty paintbrush water until they met the water and exploded into nothing.
My mum appeared at the door and slumped down on the floor. She looked tired and wore her hair scraped up into one of my old hair clips. She sat and cried with me too. I howled for an hour and she shared my release of panic and fear. And then she looked me with wet eyes and her little nose all red, squeezed my hand as though to silently conclude, and went off into her room. I heard her through the bathroom wall clinking around in her wooden dresser. I wanted to be mothered forever in that moment; cradled from danger and darkness. I stood up to let the water drain off my body and then I wrapped myself up and pulled the plug on the tears, the sweat and the panic of what would happen in the morning. And then I went to bed.