Right now I am writing because I am scared. We are about to set off again on the final leg of my journey. The last flight of the day at Belgrade Airport is the only flight to Sarajevo and we are waiting at the end of the runway for clearance. The captain has explained how we need to be de-iced again and that we are waiting for word from Sarajevo Airport that they have cleared the snow from the runway. The propellors that got us here have stopped spinning and are waiting to turn again and the plane’s tyre marks in the snow revealed the ice beneath the surface. Apparently, it is minus 12 degrees in Sarajevo and there is snow a metre deep around the airport. I have just changed my shoes, which is a difficult thing to do when the seat belt light is on. It is now exactly 36 hours since I left home yesterday. And by the time I get to Sarajevo I will only have one and a half days left. Enough time to plant a seed at the Zetra Stadium and listen to Bolero.
The propellers are lurching into life. The whole aeroplane is shuddering with the sheer effort of take off, shivering as if it is cold. De-icer has misted up my window so I can’t see. The aeroplane is cold and crying. An air stewardess sits impassively staring down the aisle. She has done this before. The lights go out. I have taken off and landed 10 times in the last two days and I think because I am so close to my destination I am more nervous this time than before. We are taking off now and I am not looking out of the window because I don’t want to look down. This is one of the loudest aeroplanes I have ever been on and the propellor sounds like it is above our heads. A woman to my right has been sick. A baby is crying. Still the air stewardess sits impassively staring down the aisle. This act of writing is a defence mechanism, an exit strategy. I am trying to write the fear away.
There was a couple at the airport kissing and, when we waited in the departure lounge, they sat back to back with their heads resting on each others’ shoulders. For a moment, I saw the image of Torvill and Dean kneeling on the ice at the Zetra Stadium, waiting to begin. It was Valentine’s Day and the British media were keen to suggest that there was more than just a professional relationship between them. As if to perform so tenderly together they had to understand each other more intimately. I imagine they had practised for so long they had got to know how each other moved so intuitively that they constructed their own shared language, their own shared vocabulary. We are coming in to land now. After 36 hours, six flights, five countries and three currencies I have arrived in Sarajevo.