A is for Arrival
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Arrival comes with anticipation. It is the space between There and Here: where the old has not yet been fully left behind but lingers still in fresh memories of goodbyes; where the New is still unknown, still felt in comparison to the Old.
Arrival is first impressions, where imagined versions evaporate in an instant, destroyed by an alternative that may surprise or disappoint but will at least be more substantial.
Arrival is a bundle of nerves and nervous energy, ready to say yes, wanting to please, wanting to be seen as confident and competent: everything a person should be. It is enthusiasm and eye contact; shiny fronts and hidden backs. Arrival is Yes Please and Thank You So Much and I’d Love To, That’s Wonderful.
My first arrival was as chaotic as the place. Halfway down a lane, the Google-woman informed me that I’d arrived. Given that I was going to stay at one of Britain’s many Old Church Farms, the presence of some kind of building felt like a basic minimum. Clearly something had gone wrong. I pulled over. The blue dot was stationary on a tiny white line that cut through a sea of empty green. I’d turn around and retrace my steps, I thought - but - Oh no! My wheels spun and revved and threw mud in every direction.
What an arrival.
“Hello?... [the sound of cockerels] … Hi, I’m somewhere nearby, on an empty lane but I’m not sure where … I passed a couple of houses a few minutes ago but nothing since. Also, I’m stuck.”
My second arrival was anticlimactic. After weeks of staying in leaky caravans, we, the team of volunteers had successfully disbanded and made our escapes. I was ready to start again somewhere warmer; kinder; more organised; somewhere I’d be given instructions that made sense, so I could really start learn to look after animals. Full of expectation and potato sandwiches that I’d been given for the journey, my new farmer gave me the low down. “We don’t really have any animals here any more. I’ve got a couple want to get married in the barn in a next week and it needs to look good by then.” My gut sank.
My third arrival was marked by determination. At this place, I decided to accept whatever was thrown at me, and most importantly, I would stay: stick it out and learn everything there was to learn for at least a month, come what may. I lined up my car next to a Landrover in the carpark, thankful that the location was exactly as described on the website. I took a few deep breaths and got out. The house was the same as the picture. Not a broken caravan in sight. Not a rubbish heap to be seen – and yes, this time, some real, live animals.