Life is a roller coaster they say (or maybe that’s just Ronan Keating). We’ve been trundling up and down on the emigration coaster for a while now. Visa applications are a fickle and painfully slow process with more downs than ups. Each delay leaves you feeling like the end of this ride will never be in sight. On it goes, over the next hill in the hope that it might be the last boring hump before the cart picks up momentum and the fun really begins.
Then with a sharp jolt, the paperwork arrives. You have a visa. Permission to land (literally). Before there’s time to acclimatise, you go straight on to a speedy section of troughs and peaks with movers and packing dates and different schedules that all have to match with available flights. The time difference between departure and arrival countries elongates that process. A few more twists and turns spin you about until it all aligns and you climb up another steeper incline. After all that waiting for something exciting to happen you have a real date. IN MERE DAYS! The cart surges ahead impatiently at a now uncomfortable pace.
Present Day You wonders why Past You didn’t get more done with all that waiting time. Past You reminds Present You that you didn’t know if, when, or where you’d be going, and that most of this preparation work required an actual date. Past You thinks it would be awesome to be where you are now with the real adventure about to begin. Future You pipes up to say “Man that was a craaaaazy time, but sure it was all grand in the end. Don’t worry about it!”. Present You doesn’t think the discussion is helping much at all right now and continues to frantically compile lists of things that are unlikely to be completed in time.
While you ponder the logistics of all that needs to be done, a surprise stomach bug wipes out a couple of days in one fell swoop. All you want to do is curl up in a miserable ball but there are Things To Do. Including a baby that still needs to be fed regardless of how sick anyone is. You resurface from this queasy section with empty fuel tanks and endless To-Do lists that will carry you through to that evening when your temporary accommodation is chosen and confirmed. The final puzzle piece fits into place and this vague plan for the future coalesces into a reality. This is it. There’s no going back.
Now is when you find yourself slowly inching up to the pinnacle of that roller coaster. Your low-level background anxiety grows towards abject fear as you see the massive drop yawning in front of you. The end is in sight, with all the relief that entails. You know you’ll stagger off soon, shaken but laughing at the thrill of the ride. Looking forward to the next one even. But the only way to get there is a jaw-dropping race down a steep track that doesn’t look at all safe from this vantage point so far from the ground below. There’s a horrible grinding shudder as you hit that crucial tipping point of the journey.
You glance at your partner, whose expression mirrors your own. There’s just enough time for a “what were we thinking, how do we get off?” thought, but it’s far too late for that now. The cart tips over the edge with excruciating slowness and you grip the bar with all your strength. There’s a moment of sheer horror at what lies ahead just before that stomach-churning drop into nothing. The cart plummets. Freefall. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating. It’s what makes you feel fully alive. You accelerate into the unknown…