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"So then the doctor was pressing on my stomach and he asked me if I’d had sex in the last few days, so I said ‘yes.’
"Then he said ‘Anything remarkable?’"
"And you said ‘yes,’ right? Tell me you said ‘yes.’"
I remember the first time I rode on a roller coaster. It was an old, wooden contraption that sounded - and felt - like it was going to fall apart. Riding with my younger brother, I was the nervous, less confident, older kid.
As the car slowly ambled up the track towards the first - and biggest - drop, the situation made itself very clear to me. I was trapped in a small, seemingly Victorian-era vehicle with no way out except to allow myself to be shunted around a rickety track at terrifying speeds, up hills and down slopes that looked suicidal. This was not, I realised, a situation I was entirely comfortable with.
I looked over at my brother, who was smiling with excitement and anticipation. “I think,” I said, looking back up at the slowly approaching peak, “I think…I’m going to cry.” My brother merely laughed.
Several seconds later, the car pulled in and stopped, we took off our seatbelts, got out, and immediately queued up for a second ride, breathless and elated. My underwear-worrying fear had been completely forgotten in the exhilarating thrill of the ride.
Ten years ago today, I was sitting in Heathrow Airport by myself, in the jarring bustle of the waiting area across from the duty free store. Not long earlier, I had said goodbye to my parents and made my way through check-in and security. Now I was calling and texting some friends who hadn’t made it out to my leaving party the night before.
There in the airport, the enormity of the situation hit me. I was leaving my home, my family and friends, and my job, and moving across the planet to a country in whose language I could barely count to ten, let alone converse. I didn’t know anyone, and from the photos sent to me, I was moving into an apartment slightly smaller than a mailing envelope. But there was no way of getting out of it now. I was moving to Japan, and like it or not, it would be a year before I returned home.
One of my friends was away from their phone, so I had to leave them a message. I said my goodbyes, my I’ll-email-you-when-I-get-theres, and all the nerves and uncertainty hit me. I was looking up at the slowly approaching peaks and troughs, and I had no idea what was going to happen. I paused, and swallowed. “I think…I think I’m going to cry,” I said.
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