That “going back home feeling” I get…

By Pascal de Gaillande - Copyright © 2007 Pascal de Gaillande - All rights reserved


Whenever I am due to go back to Vila I get that feeling…I have been getting it since I went to school in New Caledonia. Although I have been back to Vila on a fairly short notice a couple of times, getting this “going back home feeling” is usually a long process, most of the time it starts when I am making plan to travel back to Vila, I get excited (And that is an under statement), in my mind it begins to be just like a dream of something you really whish to happen that is going to actually occur, in short a dream come true. Then come the reservation, a day is set, and the flight is booked. By now I get an odd feeling that it is not going to happen after all, and something unexpected will prevent me from returning to Vila, I usually get this a month prior to departure, but my mind still refuses to accept this unfortunate possibility, and it fights back that negative thought and feeling fiercely, it can last a few days…Then as time goes by, around 15 days to departure, my mind is set to go no matter what. At this stage nothing can stop me. I have to go, as I let this week elapse, I am already pretty much in Vila in my mind, even though I am still not physically. Nothing really matters, I just anticipate and think very hard about how is it going to be, to actually be there for real, by this time I am already planning my exit, and that is 7 days prior to departure. Preparing my stuff, making mental lists of what I have to do before I leave, that will make me be on that Air Vanuatu plane imperatively…If it is something that can wait, it will, until I come back from Vila. Now with D day fast approaching, I cannot bother getting in any situations or starting something I cannot finish by then. I start to think about the suitcases and what I need to get; at this point I am counting down the days, just like a child counts the days to Christmas. I am so happy, when I am out in the streets I just look at people, I just want to tell them I am going back, how lucky I am and how I could not care less about whatever is happening here anymore. 3 days prior to departure, you can expect to see suitcases opened in my house and the packing up process starts…Should I bring this? Should I bring that? And then who cares, so long I bring myself. I am not going to stress about that, all I need is my underwear, a pair of shorts, a tee shirt and my thongs, I still have a lot of old clothes in Vila anyway, further more half of the time I end up not using whatever I bring there. At his stage, I see myself going towards the airport…even though there is a couple of days left…I have to know exactly how I am going to get there, and what time should I leave…I have to anticipate traffic, all I do not need is to miss the plane because of traffic. I have to be sure I give myself plenty of time, I really do not care about being in advance at the airport, as the possibilities of missing the plane would be slimmer if I get there earlier. So there is a couple of days left, and it becomes very stressful, because suddenly there is a shift in my mind, I am coming back to reality and I need to focus on what I am leaving behind, and now my brain commences to bounce between the realities of my life here and Vila. Usually the last night is spent going to bed very late, doing those last things, and the sleep is always interrupted with waking up suddenly every hours until the morning comes, as if my mind was consistently keeping me in alert mode (So I do not miss the flight.). The last day finally comes, it is pretty much the most stressful day of all, all that matters now, is to be sure to have passport and ticket, the journey I have been waiting for so long is here right in front of me, the moment I close the front door of my house, the trip is now beginning (Although that is pretty much the physical trip not the mental one which started way earlier). As I make my way to the airport, my mind goes into asking the same question over and over again, as I gaze toward the city I am leaving (With no regrets): “Did I forget something?” And then abruptly my brain shuts the question down…kind of saying: “Who cares? I am not going back to the house if I forgot something…I am going back home (To Vila) now, no matter what I forget behind (And hopefully it is not the passport)”.

I arrive at the airport, and I have a mission of extreme importance: Getting the hell out of here…I see familiar faces as I check in, and my eyes are set on my watch, I have to be at the boarding gate in time, there is no room for errors now, especially not now.

As I board the plane, seat down in my dedicated chair and fasten my seatbelt, I suddenly feel better and relieved, I made the first two rounds, from the house to the airport and from the airport to the plane. I am pretty sure that at this point, I might have a little smile…little, no so sure, let’s say I am smiling full on…and for good reasons…The 3 hours and 15 minutes flight is always enjoyable on Air Vanuatu, but I am very impatient to get there. My favorite time is probably the last 20 minutes of the flight, when suddenly all the air hostess get into preparing the cabin for landing after that call from the captain. Gradually on our way down, the plane gets out of the clouds, I can feel it, my mother island is calling me, I have that rush going in my blood, and depending where I am sitting, I see either Pango and Irriki island or Devil’s Point and Mele from a distance, then very fast we cross Mele beach and make that right turn…and onto landing…onto parking…Now I am not even in a rush to get out of the plane…because the plane is already there. I am back…the third round is over and I am winning. At this moment the last round starts, it is the journey from the plane to my home, I get out of the plane, to the residents immigration line, to the custom, to outside where I am greeted by my family…a short conversation starts, but I am not done, so I usually press my family to get in the car…when I am lucky, they came with the four wheels drive, and I would hop at the back by myself and enjoy the last leg of the trip home, as we hit the road going to Vila, I am looking at both sides of the road alternately, I have that strange feeling, I see changes around, but it is still the same, a few things have developed, but it is still too familiar, it is like I am rediscovering something I never forgot at the first place, something that always has been in my mind. The trip takes a turn just before going to town, at the Trader’s Vic, we go up that hill towards the jail, past the bakery then to the Tassiriki roundabout and onto the left on Teouma road, my heart beats increase, the rush is now even greater than before, we just passed Montmartre road, we do that very slight right turn down to Tassiriki where I can see all the way to the second lagoon. I am home right at this moment (Even though I am still at the back of the four wheels drive), and that is probably the best kick out of my life I can never be fed up of getting. That moment where I go down that road…it is most probably the best piece of terrestrial time I ever enjoy, that very special moment…it does not even remotely come close to working down the Champs Elysees, you can’t imagine, how eager I am to be experiencing that moment again, because that is the instant I consider to be back home again, that is the moment where that “going back home feeling” clashes and melts with that absolute confirmation that I am back home…it is a reality…


Pascal de Gaillande



Copyright © 2007 - All rights reserved