Breach of Routine
“Is two plus two four there?”
Those were the words that came out of my mouth when Mom and Dad told me about the move.
My parents looked at each other in surprise. After a few moments, my mom finally answered.
“Of course it is, honey. You don’t have to worry about that. Math is the same everywhere in the world, no matter the language you study it in”.
I was sitting on the armchair with the stiff cushion in the living room, my feet dangling from the chair. We had just eaten the chocolate cake my parents had surprised me with. It was their attempt at making the news less overwhelming for me. I guess that’s the standard procedure one should follow when they plan on making a life-changing announcement to their nine-year-old.
Unfortunately, the cake had looked better than it had tasted: it had a raspberry filling that tasted weirdly bitter, ruining what could have been a delicious dessert.
I took a moment to process Mom’s answer to my question. It was hard to concentrate as my mind was suddenly filled with more questions.
How was I going to learn a whole new language?
Did I have to leave my school friends?
The city I was born in?
I started to feel lightheaded, becoming more aware of the space between my dangling feet and the floor. It felt like I was going to fall out of the armchair. So, I got up from the chair to regain steadiness, nodded at my mom, and headed towards my room to join the tea party my stuffed animals were having there.
It wasn’t until a few months later, when my parents and I were on the plane that was bringing us to Canada, and that the space between my feet and the floor had grown from a few inches to thousands of feet, that I was forced to acknowledge what was about to come. That realization gave rise to the struggle to find my breath. My parents, helpless, tried to get the attention of a flight attendant. I still remember how she brought me a brown paper bag in a flash, handing it to me after a quick demonstration of how I had to breathe into it. Before I could grab the bag under my mom’s words of encouragement, I had to force myself to stop gripping the cold armrest.
After that, all I could hear were the sounds of the crumpling paper bag and my own shortened breath. Little did I know that on the other side of the plane, a man was also struggling to find his breath. It didn’t take long for the pilot to decide to land the plane in a close by city in order to bring the man to a hospital. Breathing into the bag while seeing the paramedics take the man out of the plane helped me calm down.
Maybe the man was also immigrating to another continent and was only trying to get back to the ground.