Sunday, December 19, 2010

At Home in Heathrow

[I wrote this Friday night (I think) and it was the first time that I was, well, more or less aware that I was going to be living in an airport for a couple of days. Now that I have internet access, be prepared for, well, a series tentatively titled At Home in Heathrow. I have a sick sense of humor, don't I? So, this was actually written Saturday before I was supposed to get on the plane to come home. My how plans have changed.]

I know the time stamp on this sucker is going to read something different, but I’m currently sitting on the fun side of airport security waiting until I can board my flight home.

So, yes, I’ve been living at Heathrow since yesterday at about six-thirty at night. It’s been….real.

Let me back up. Yesterday morning I get a call at about nine-something (woke me up, I’ll be honest, I was sleeping in) and it’s the International Officer asking me if I’ve looked outside. Out the window there’s at least a good couple inches of snow on the ground. Not much by New York standards, but definitely more than the UK can handle. She then proceeds to tell me that because of the weather, the bus company isn’t sure if they can successfully get us there on time if we leave in the morning. So there’s going to be a bus leaving at one in the afternoon.

Cue Louise’s temporary panic because there’s nothing in my room that’s packed. There’s part of my desk done, but other than that? Nadda.

Anyway, she tells me she’s going to call back when she finds out what time the bus is leaving and then she’ll want to know if I’m going to be on it.

Holy. Shit.

This is not how I wanted to leave the country in a state of semi-panic.

So, I get up, get around and take a shower, and then start to power pack my room. She calls me back around ten and tells me the bus is going to leave at two, and if I’m going to be on it. There might not, because of the snow, be another way to get to London if I’m not on this bus.

Hence, Louise needs to be on the bus.

Do not ask me how I managed to pack an entire room in the time available, including the three bags I had with me, and they are all stuffed. It’s ridiculous.

This was, however, not how I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to be rushing around and leaving like this. I wanted to take my time packing, saying goodbye, and maybe having a snowball fight with Jess and Jen before I had to leave. It didn’t happen. I didn’t get to hug Math, or say goodbye to some of the other internationals because they weren’t available, and I was in a time crunch. It wasn’t ideal. But what can you do? They were the circumstances presented, and, quite honestly, I want to go home.

Looking at pictures on my camera of the people I’ve left behind is not the right thing to do at the moment. Though the ones we have when we found a space to claim as ours for the night in the airport? Those are priceless. And Heathrow provided blankets, too. So I have this horribly ugly brown fleece blanket with me that someone gave me at about one-something this morning, along with a bottle of water that I didn’t drink.

Luggage was an issue. Not only was my suitcase overweight (power-packing in three hours? Yeah, that’s gonna happen) and, apparently, my backpack that I took with me on the plane in the cabin was too large and too heavy. Therefore, I had to check that.

That did not make me a happy camper. Especially because I have my Newcastle Brown Ale glass from the Rose and Crown Hotel in that backpack and the stuff that Jess and Jen gave me for my birthday, all breakable. And I was going to have that with me to, well, not break it, and now it’s in with the rest of the luggage. However, I was a good person and wrapped it in clothes before putting it in there, so it should be okay.


On the bright side of that, when I did self-service check-in, I changed my seat. Was supposed to be in the middle on the side, but now I’ve got a window seat. Which makes things better. Not great, but better.

I won’t tell you how much I’ve shelled out to be able to get my overweight suitcase and extra bag on that plane, but it can’t very well sit in Heathrow, can it? And I can’t really repack it because, well, where the hell am I gonna put that stuff? Exactly. At this point, I will do what I need to in order to get home.

Now I’m currently sitting outside a T.G.I. Friday’s and a Jo Malone, listening to Nate play his guitar and thinking that I might have been in this airport too damn long.

There are some truly hilarious pictures from last night, sleeping on the second floor of departures, and, honestly, I slept really well for about five hours on the floor. I will be submitting that photo to This Week in Photos on the colleges website because, well, it’s priceless. Come study abroad and get stuck in airports! Spend the night with your fellow students in a public, co-ed sleepover experience!

Bright side of life, here, people. Bright side of life.

I’m still torn. On the one hand, I want to go home because I haven’t seen my mother in weeks and my sister, father, and Smidget in months. I wanna have filter coffee in my kitchen with my sister, and I want to wake up in the morning because Mads is standing by the side of the bed just staring at me, maybe poking me to see if I’m real and I’ll move over and crawl into bed with me. I’ve missed that. I’ve missed her and her three-foot tall barely containable endless energy.

And if I have to listen to one more security announcement, I’m going to freak out and curse in languages I don’t even know.

What’s making this more bearable? The venti-sized Starbucks peppermint mocha that I’m consuming while I’m writing this and the fact that, yeah, I’ve gotten really used to running on not a lot of sleep over the past couple of weeks. That, and I’m predicting when I get on the plane, I’m going to be asleep before we’re even off the ground.

Shit. The pack of gum I bought specifically to help my ears pop? That’s in my backpack which is now a checked bag. Damn it. I’m going to need to bum some gum off someone if I’m going to make it through take-off without a ton of pain. Sometimes my ears won’t pop.

Again, bright side – I figured out my calling card last night. I couldn’t call the 800 number straight away, I had to call the international connection (for free) and then have them connect me through to AT&T, then I could use the card. Simple once you figure it out, a little complicated and a hell of a lot of frustration when you don’t know what you’re doing.

My laptop sports a Mind the Gap sticker from London on the lid. Perched at a jaunty, angle, of course, and hopefully a conversation starter if I’m in the library and someone’s wondering.

I should probably start thinking about articles to submit to the study abroad journal back home, but I think I have other things to worry about at the moment.

My teeth feel incredibly fuzzy. Brush my teeth, you suggest? The toothbrush and toothpaste are in the backpack, along with most of the pills. It’s been absolutely lovely. What can you do, though?

Yup. I’m going to get on that plane and probably be asleep before we even take off. Me and my window seat that I changed when I checked in. Still makes me smile when I think about that. I like window seats. Not only do I get to look, I get something to lean against.

Let’s talk about re-entry. As in, re-entry to America and American society. It’s going to be an issue. I’ve spent three months getting used to this system, this way of life (and driving on the left side of the road, thank you very much) and maybe it’s a good thing I’m not going to be able to drive until roughly next week because my license expired. Dad has to take me down to DMV sometime next week so I can renew it, and then I’ll be able to drive. Hopefully, I will have assimilated enough to be comfortable driving again and not feel like I’m going the wrong way.

Right. I’m almost out of battery on my laptop and I don’t feel like digging out my plug and my adapter, and…I will see you on the other side of the Atlantic.

Hopefully sooner rather than later.

1 comment:

Connie said...

I'm finally sitting at my computer so I can leave a proper comment.

OMG! I can't believe this is happening to you! I hope you find your adapter soon.

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz