Monday, December 20, 2010


I told you I had an odd sense of humor. As in the title of this post, and the fact that I've now moved from Heathrow to a hotel not far from the Bond Street Underground station in the borough of Westminster.

And believe me, it's a nicer hotel than I would have chosen had I been the one to choose originally. Namely, this one would have been classified as a little out of my price range.

The last time you heard from me, I was sitting on the fun side of security at Heathrow, waiting to get on a flight to JFK. As I'm not posting the joys of being home, it's safe to assume that I'm still in London. That assumption would be correct.

It's been an interesting few days, to say the least. If you've been following me on Twitter, you'll see some of what I've been posting [including the one from the reporter at CNN who wants me to email him, and I still need to do that, too] and the responses.

Despite all the good thoughts, karma, prayers and whatnot, if it continues to snow - and stick - there is the possibility that we won't fly out on Wednesday and we'll be spending Christmas in London has an HWS family.

An HWS family in which they're happy to have me back.

I'd been "Tom Hanks-ing" it from Friday until late this afternoon, sleeping on the second floor of Virgin Atlantic departures since then. Except for Saturday night on the floor by some exchange bureau near check-in point F or G. I woke up during the night, mostly because I was really freaking cold, and sat up, looked around, and thought why are there so many people covered in tin foil? Then figured that if I was having that thought, oddly reminding me of when my sister was sleeping in the tent with the dog at the lake and saw my aunt in her nightdress, wandering around, I needed to lay back down and go to sleep. Which I did.

It was really difficult to keep track of days, because, eventually, they blended together. It didn't so much happen that first morning, but Sunday into Monday it really started to.

Saturday was the day I fought with the airline to get my bags back. I had checked my backpack - not only was it too large, apparently, to be in the cabin, but it was too heavy, too - and there was also my suitcase, too. The suitcase wasn't an issue. The backpack was the issue because it had my meds in it. Not the Align, the important one, but the other stuff that I needed to supplement it. And the longer I go without my meds, the more things get....interesting.

It took multiple trips to Arrivals (where the baggage was supposed to be, as it was still on the plane at the time) and upon the fourth trip downstairs to try and find out when my bags were coming off the plane, only then did the Virgin Atlantic representative actually ask if there was anything she could do for me, if there was anything she could get me. I told her no, I just needed my bags (because, yeah, making my own dosages with something that wasn't even close to being the UK equivalent was not going to happen) and she actually was the first one all day to take my bag information off from my passport, and also my mobile number in hopes that when she knew when the plane was being unloaded, she would let me know. I assumed this was going to be true.

Despite having my mobile number, they didn't call me. However, the moment I hit the departures floor, she immediately remembered me, pulled aside another rep, and sent me with her to Arrivals to fetch my bag. The suitcase was on a trolley, and the backpack was on top of that. First thing I did after returning to my spot in the second floor of Departures, was to crack open my bag, ingest my meds, and then check to make sure the breakable stuff I had wrapped in clothes and in the bottom hadn't broken. It was intact, but the entire right side of the bag was wet. Like it had been dropped in snow.

Not a big deal, but, well....makes things in there not smell great.

So, now it was Sunday and after some phoning home, we decided that it would be best for me to stay at the airport and maybe hope to get on a standby list. Then the news came in that there was a rescheduled flight that we had seats on for Wednesday. I have a printed e-ticket, and a guaranteed ticket on this flight. But we wanted to see if maybe there was a way for me to get something earlier.

Which, ultimately, didn't work. So I wound up spending another night on the floor of the airport.

And, as there is a mirror above the desk, I'm looking at the circles under my eyes that somehow keep growing. Not great.

Monday turned out to be a bust, and then information trickled in from the homefront that it was best for me to find the hotel everyone had been living at while I had been living at Heathrow, and it was made that I was to find that and check myself in.

Feeling like a bag lady, I trotted down the elevator and then out into the cold, slightly snowy London air and headed for Arrivals. That would take me down to the Heathrow Express - the train that gets you to London Paddington in fifteen minutes. And they weren't charging for it because of all the snow had done to travelers. From Paddington it was down to the Underground and then, one transfer later, I was at the corner of Bond Street and Oxford Street (I think) and wondering where exactly to go next. After a bit of wandering (which is more or less what I'm famous for, really) I found the hotel.

Not too long later I was in a room with an actual bed, a shower, and thinking that it was proverbial heaven, truthfully.

It's weird. I have internet access (free, too!), a bed to sleep in tonight as opposed to the floor, and I was able to take a shower and find some different clothes to wear. Though what I'm going to wear to bed tonight is a completely different story as most of the rest of my clothes are packed in space bags with the air sucked out. And unless someone wants me to give myself a slight hernia by sucking that much air through a straw, I'm not opening them.

The most important part of this is that I've seen both sides to this story. I've seen the I don't have anywhere to go, and the airport is now home until they figure out how to get me to where I need to go and I've also seen the I have the opportunity to get out of this place for a while, get a shower, sleep in a bed, and generally wander around London until we're supposed to fly. I know which side most would prefer - it's the side I'm currently on. But I've seen both. Done both. And that's been one of those experiences most people should really have.

It's truly how the other half lives.

I'm in London until Wednesday, at the earliest. I'm back with the rest of my student cohorts, and we're planning on seeing a show tomorrow night. Something to pass the time. To keep ourselves occupied and see some of London that we haven't seen before.

And I just found something to sleep in, which just made my night, really. It's the little things right now, like being connected to the internet and being able to call back home. It's things like that right now that make a difference. A big difference, really.

I understand that I'm lucky. I'm in a hotel when I could be spending another night at Heathrow under a blanket on a foam mat on the floor in some corner with my luggage. As it is, I'm going to crawl into a bed and sleep like I'm dead, probably, and hope the bags under my eyes don't get any larger or I'm going to be giving a raccoon a run for his money.

I would love to be home right now, layin' on the couch with the dog or curled up in my own icebox of a room (backside of the house, gets a little chilly in the winter) and wondering if I'm going to be making Christmas cookies with the Smidget, but I'm not. I'm in London - Borough of Westminster, to be exact - and if things go right-side up, I'm leaving on Wednesday to actually head home. If they go pear-shaped, then we're looking at spending Christmas on this side of the Atlantic with some of the alums that we can find in this country.

Bright side of life. Make the most of what you've got when you've got it. Right now, while this might not be ideal, it's better than what it had been, and better than what some still have. That's always a good thing to keep in mind.

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

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz