Goodbye New York, Hello UK

I wrote this in Heathrow, waiting for my flight to Edinburgh, but didn't get to post it until today, when I finally got registered for their compicated "resnet." Anyway, this was Sunday, while most of the people who will read this were sleeping:

My very first memory in life is of being on an airplane with my mother. We were moving from Los Angeles to Minnesota, and I remember my excitement quite well. I remember the way the light looked coming through the little window, my fascination with the baby corn in the food we ate, the lights on the runway when we landed at night, and my mother’s wonderfully soft, warm skin. I can only hope I was better behaved than the monster child sitting behind me on the flight from JFK to Heathrow. Wait, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. First, a (probably boring) account of my time since I wrote last:

On Friday, I finished running some errands, packed some more, and ate meals with lovely people I won’t see for a long, long time. Elisabeth made my cry in front of Milbank, which was rather unfair if touching—Friday afternoon is too early to start crying if your flight doesn’t leave until Saturday night. Christina and I planned a going-away celebration for Friday night, and Blair was kind enough to offer to be our host. Our plans changed at the last minute, however, and we moved the party to the lovely Max Café on 122nd and Amsterdam to allow people to just drop in and say goodbye without having to trek up to Blair’s lovely but distant apartment. Christina, Ellen, Lily, Alice and I dined together and headed over to the café for desert and other refreshments around 9:30. About 20 people came to say farewell, and I had a lovely time. Here are photos:

Emily and Anne-Marie--

Me, Lily, Christina--

Ellen, Lily, Christina--

Sara Fay and me--

[A side note—the BMI employee behind me is speaking on the phone to someone in what sounds to me like Gaelic. She looks Irish to me. I need a moment for how cool that is.]

Saturday morning I breakfasted Le Monde style and had tea at the Hungarian Pastry Shop. There were many tearful and intense goodbyes, and Ellen made me cry even though she’s coming to visit for my birthday in just a few weeks.

I lived the American Dream on Saturday afternoon at the bank. Okay, I’m being dramatic. But I’m telling you, going to the bank and holding in my hands the money I saved this summer all by myself was an amazing moment for me. I nearly cried. But that was probably because Ellen had just made me cry a few minutes earlier. Anyway, I bought traveler’s checks and closed my savings account and all is well in my finances, so far. British money is prettier, by the way. It has this shiny seal on it. And the coins have two metals sometimes. I don’t fully understand how to use it yet. In fact, I haven’t used it yet. But I have it in my possession, and that’s exciting. I feel like an adult, paying my own bills and taking care of almost everything on my own.

Long story short, I left Christina and Sara Fay standing on the steps of 616 waving like proud parents. Julie was kind enough to accompany me to the airport via subway, because I have too much stuff to carry on my own. We made it to JFK with plenty of time to spare.

Everything about this flight was new and different because I flew Air India from JFK to Heathrow. As Lars said, “Why would fly Air India to London?” Because it was the cheapest flight. Plus, it was so much fun. The women who work for Air India are all extraordinarily beautiful and wearing saris. At the plane, I was greeted by one of these women with her hands folded, nodding and looking welcoming. This airplane had two floors and many, many seats. The seat next to me was empty because it was a pretty empty flight. I was happily settled and nodding off even before boarding ended when the little monster child I mentioned before sat down behind me. I love children. I am patient and kind and understanding. But this child nearly drove me to insanity until he fell asleep. He yelled at his mother and his father to look at everything he could point to. This was pretty cute the first time. In fact, I probably not have minded his loud and insistent voice if he hadn’t decided to KICK MY SEAT for HOURS. There is nothing more distracting when you are trying to sleep sitting up on a plane then little tiny feet kicking, kicking, kicking. I assure you, we had a friendly conversation about how it’s hard to sit still on airplanes, but could he please try not to kick me. It didn’t help. Finally, he went to sleep. Why they didn’t just put him in the middle seat where he could kick away without disturbing anyone, I do not know. Anyway, my flight was uneventful other than the kicking child. And in case you were wondering, the flight video at the beginning was in Hindi first and then English, Indian airplane food isn’t as bad as it sounds (although I didn’t have the courage to try the yogurt looking thing) and the movie was that remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner they did last year, followed by the TV show King of Queens, which was followed by an Indian sitcom. I was thoroughly amused by that combination of amenities.

I got off that plane, went through passport inspection, got my bags, went through customs, checked in for my BMI flight from London to Edinburgh and here I am, sitting at the gate. BMI employees wear funny little hats. I love them—they’re adorable. (The hats, I mean). For those of you who were part of my luggage saga, you will be happy to know that it’s all taken care of. Of course, both my pieces of luggage were overweight. However, a truly lovely BMI kindred spirit let it pass. I had to shift some stuff around and learned, in that process, that my hair products and cosmetics weigh about two kilos. Ah, vanity.

I will write again soon when I have something of Scotland to report. In the mean time, I’ll sign off from cold and rainy, but green and pretty England.

I have been waiting my whole live to be in England. And here I am. I can hardly believe it! I feel as if Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters are envying my travels and smiling down on me, Virginia Woolf is amusing herself at my expense and Robert Burns is wondering if perhaps true love awaits me in Edinburgh.

I feel so sure that this is the right decision, but only time can tell.


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