It hit me like a tsunami of sound, almost physical in its intensity. Then silence, a rushing overwhelming silence, not just quiet, but an almost tangible absence of noise. My hearing returns, and I am aware of a whooshing, rushing noise that I realise is the sound of my own circulation and heartbeat. I'm being shaken so hard that my vision is blurred. All I can make out on vague shapes and colours, areas of dark and light. The dark is pitch black, the light bright enough to hurt my eyes. The noise in my head changes to something external, an overwhelming rushing gale of noise. I became aware of the high frequency noise something familiar. Something that fills me with fear. My brain struggles with the sensory overload, trying to comprehend what's going on. The high frequency noise resolves itself into the screams of women and children before they are drowned out by a tearing, rending noise as the world itself comes apart. Feel a sense of weightlessness, of flying, of freedom. My perception is reduced to just impressions – green – blue – orange – crimson – heat - pain. I'm aware of the edges of vision closing in, as if I'm receding down a deep dark well. Then all is darkness.
The alarm on my mobile phone woke me with its usual shrill beeping. Groggily I reached a hand out and fumbled to turn it off. Waking up in strange hotel rooms always disorientated me for a few moments to start with. I swung my legs out of bed, levered myself upright, and half walked, half felt the way to the bathroom. I reached behind the shower curtain and turned the shower on, knowing that was the only way that I could start functioning normally.
I'd been away from home for nearly 3 months living out of a suitcase and on hotel buffet food and really needed to get back to my home comforts. The money was good, the work is interesting that while more than made up for the sheer rootlessness I was beginning to feel. It was also getting wearing people assuming that because of my job I was a permanent pessimist. Disaster management isn't the most glamorous of subjects and may focus on gloom and doom, but it's all about doing what you can, knowing what you can't, accepting it and then getting on with your life. My motto had always been "prepare for the worst, hope the best."
Shower finished, I stared at my bleary eyes in the mirror as I shaved more by feel than the normal method. As I stood there, face half covered with foam, I really did wonder what on earth I was doing. "Why do you put yourself through all this? There must be easier ways to make a living?" I asked the man in the mirror. It was clear he had no more answers than I did.
After a fairly anonymous hotel breakfast, which meant I could be in almost any city anywhere in the world. I went back up to the room. I threw most of my clothes in my case and had the usual struggle with the zip. One of these days, I thought to myself, I really must learn how to pack properly. I grabbed my carry-on bag, checked I'd left nothing in the room and headed down to reception to check out. After going through the far too familiar process. I found the shuttle bus to the airport, and I was on my way home.