Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Who am I?
Last weekend was supposed to be a relaxing one – taking the train up to Devon to see my mum for the first time in six months. So my dear brother in law, Pete, dropped me off at the station on Friday afternoon and offered to see me off. “Don't worry, Pete,” I said, giving him a hug. “We'll be fine.” And Molls and I set off to check the train and get a ticket.
It wasn't until I was standing in the queue for tickets that I thought – where's my bag? My stomach plummeted and I checked – got Molls, got my holdall and my wellies – but no bag.
I shot out of the ticket hall, ran outside, heart thumping, to see if Pete had gone. The February drizzle dowsed the afternoon but there was no sign of Pete's grey Fiesta. I walked back with a sense of utter disbelief. I stood there shaking, and realised I had no money, no phone and no keys. Nothing. No form of identification (though this didn't hit me until later). It was too far to walk home (12 miles) and I had no wherewithal to get a train or bus back.
But I have great faith in Pete, was convinced he'd see my bag lying on the back seat of his car. He'd swear, under his breath, and turn round and bring it straight back. So I thought. I knew I'd be OK – I just wasn't sure how.
As it happened, Pete didn't notice my bag until 8pm that night – this was 2.30pm. But after various phone calls from borrowed mobiles, a dear friend roared down to the station, paid for my ticket and gave me some cash for a cup of tea, and Molls and I got the 3.30 train. Dear Nancy also rang my mum to tell her what had happened and that I'd be on a different train, and left a message on Pete's answerphone.
Once on the train, I relaxed – though I could hear Pip saying, “have a brandy Pop.” If there had been any form of refreshment, I would have grabbed it, but typically there was nothing – not even one of those little trolleys. However, someone had left a half empty can of fizzy orange so I downed that.
In the middle of that night I awoke feeling very unsettled. The next day the feeling of dislocation continued and I realised that losing your identity is a very scary thing. I was no-one and nothing.
Although I don't use my mobile much, it has a lot of numbers that I can ring if I need to. Without it, I had no recourse to many of my friends. My diary is full of reminders and work dates. Without that I'd be lost. My keys were in my bag too – so I couldn't even get into the flat even if I did get home. I had a bottle of water for me and Molls, biscuits for my low blood sugar (which was also plummeting) – also in my bag. I have my trusty notebook and pen for when I think of things that I have to remember – which is about every five minutes. Lastly, I have an envelope where Pip wrote, “I love you,” which is my talisman.
One thing's for sure – I will never, ever, leave my bag in the back of someone's car again.
But I was fortunate that I hadn't actually lost the bag, and that I had friends and my mum to lend me money. I was struck by the kindness of many people – one lady in particular who let me use her phone for countless calls. I will not forget her, and if ever there's a time when I can repay her kindness, I will do so.