Catching planes and trains is something I’ve done since birth so you’d think at my half a century I’d be well used to it but …… a day of travel remains one of those occasions where my breakfast sits as an undigested glob; my thoughts fracture; I go quiet and chew my finger nails. In recent years I recognise this as anxiety and have worked out ways to self-manage this temporary stress.
Euston station in London is heaving. A bunch of Manchester United fans have just marched past stomping and chanting in good natured reverie. Elsewhere there’s a lady looking spectacular in a flowing bright yellow dress and another walks past in flowery organza and the most beautiful red velvet strappy sandals. I covet those shoes .. but they’d be totally impractical for the solo world traveller. Some blokes bantering close by, are obviously part of a stag weekend. A young toddler wearing pink shorts and blue t-shirt plays with a soft rabbit sailing it off to exotic locations in her yellow sun hat boat. Others look tired and lost – I’m not alone in being overwhelmed today so I’ve found a seat and settle my nerves.
Look, listen, smell, taste, touch
Look (notice what people are wearing); listen (music and conversations); smell (the pink grapefruit hand cream I’ve just purchased); taste (chewing gum) and touch (the bench). It’s only recently that I’ve realised that consciously working through the 5 senses is a principle suggested by psychologists to ease anxiety in any given situation. And I know in myself it works.
A lady with a small dog on a lead comes to sit near me, I instinctively tuck my feet WAY OUT of sight. I won’t let him chew my shoes!
… the hem of my dress all caught up behind me
This is not a shopping trip, I’m off to see a cousin, but I do need to spend a penny .. or thirty. I find the public toilets – relief … but can’t understand why my money is not accepted until someone points out I’m using Euro. Crap I used all my English coins on my last coffee. Off to find a cash changing machine – I have a GBP20 note. Expecting some notes and a little change, it spits out a pile of one pound coins. Now I’m juggling my luggage … and 20 loose pound coins while I queue for the turnstile again. It still won’t take my offering. Then I’m told I need smaller coinage. With legs crossed I’m saying to myself I MUST NOT laugh as I waddle back out of the queue to the change machine again … it’s spits out the obligatory 20 pence pieces. Relief at last but now I’m late and I rush out. Five minutes later I realise the hem of my dress is all caught up behind me. Face palm.
I hop on the train and notice a toilet right next to my seat at least I can laugh now!!