I unpacked yesterday.
Finally. A whole week after I returned. I unpacked my clothes, and my shoes. My trinkets and my creams. I unpacked memories. Early sunrises, late sunsets. Cold. Sushi. Solitude. Privacy. I unpacked.
It felt weird going on a vacation alone, at first. A guy at Madame Tussaud’s asked me, “Haven’t you got any friends?” I gave him the easy answer, “No.” I didn’t tell him I had spent the previous week with some of my friends, including my best friend. I didn’t tell him that at the end of my sight-seeing, I would return home to the house in Camden where my cousins and grandparents were. No, I have no friends, I’m an alien in London and my time is my own. It was a very, very good feeling.
It was a spiritual retreat. I woke up each morning with the knowledge that I was only responsible for myself. I forgot work, and family. I concentrated on me. I reintroduced myself to myself. Hi, I’m Osemhen. And my reflection would beam back at me.
There was no hurry. I walked, I read, I prayed. I visited cathedrals, and museums. I visited galleries. I bought baubles. I wondered at shop girls and sales assistants who took immense pride in doing their jobs, who bent over backwards to be helpful to me.
I could get addicted to it. To lazing through town while everyone was in such a hurry to get to work, to school, to appointments. But that experience is only worth it when you’ve been that harried citizen hurrying to work, school, appointments…
I got a lot of breaks. Shout out to Uche, Tarela and Pemi who put up with me at different times in Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, and were such gracious hostesses. Then there were the nice people who helped me with my luggage when I struggled (one of them a schoolboy of about 11!). On my very last day in the country, I won one of those promos that shops advertise where you don’t pay a cent for everything in your shopping basket. I didn’t take it seriously till I was at the till, and the cashier announced I had won! I’d bought stuff worth £88, and didn’t have to pay anything. Cool, yes?
It wasn’t all laughter and champagne. My 9.55 am flight out of London got delayed, and then cancelled. The airline offered to route me through Nairobi to Nigeria, on a Kenyan Airways flight that would leave at 8.00 pm! I nearly cried. Lol. I opted for a Qatar Airways flight through Doha though. It was leaving at 9.15 pm but I figured it would be a more comfortable flight, and I wasn’t disappointed.
As a fitting end to all the vacation drama, I left my Kindle on the plane that took me from London to Doha. Yes. I forgot it. And I didn’t remember till I was airborne on a different plane to Lagos. Again, I almost cried but was too tired to. And the joy of being back home overshadowed my sadness. I did register a “Lost & Found” enquiry on Qatar Airways’ website and to my surprise, they replied that yes, they’d found it and they would send it to Lagos ASAP. Those guys are officially my favourite airline!
I don’t know when next I’ll go on a solo vacation, if ever again. But I’m glad I went on this one. I recommend it to anyone who needs to pause life, and recoup. Save up and just go. Just go.