I’ve been back a month and I’ve told some pals my trip was good. That’s true enough, but I still felt weird for, like, the first half of my trip. I was travelling alone so for some reason I thought that meant I shouldn’t talk to people because what if they find out I’m American and alone and start making fun of me or something.
Then I remembered I was a grown-ass woman and started to enjoy myself and then I got incredibly sick on my last full day, which was also the day I spent hanging out with my old friend Drew, which was awesome except for how I felt like I wanted to die.
But before we get to the weirdness, and the illness, and the bird shit I found on my coat on my fourth day, which means a bird may have shit on me on London or in Paris (where I went on a day trip, just an excuse to take the Eurostar), and the totally mediocre tea at Harrod’s that I paid way too much money for, let’s begin with day 1. Or day 0, which is what I call the evening of February 14, when my flight departed.
I’d packed my belongings into two carry-on bags, a large-ish Jason Wu for Target purse and a wheelie bag I bought from a dude I follow on Tumblr, Billy Poobah. Billy is not his actual name (and neither is Poobah, for that matter), but I got to see his actual house which is lovely, meet his charming wife, and play with his adorable dog. He reminisced about his own trips to London, and how he met Paul McCartney (or was it John Lennon?) in Trafalgar Square as the Beatle fell out of a Rolls Royce.
The suit case tended to wiggle, almost stumble, if I pulled it on two wheels but if I pushed it along on four it was fine. This didn’t do much to enhance my image as an international woman of mystery at the security checkpoint once I got to O’Hare. My outfit didn’t help much, either. I dressed for comfort, putting my hair up in two twists to get it out of my face (as well as coax its natural wave so that it looked less like instant ramen noodles). I wore my favorite black sheath dress, leggings, and black suede boots that looked sort of like sneakers.
In my head, I looked like a vaguely exotic abstract artist. In reality, I looked like an overgrown Goth toddler. There were quite a number of stylish looking gentlemen at the same checkpoint, who all looked like they should have their own personal menswear Tumblr blogs while I may as well have sprung live from a neglected LiveJournal account. I thought maybe these two incredibly hot yet incredibly young dudes were gawking which made me feel indignant. Didn’t they know I was a celebrated blogger who has read her writing, out loud, in front of people, just the night before?
I feel like I should also mention that the day I flew out was also like, day 3 of my period. Dudes, feel free to skip this but ladies, seriously? I have PCOS so when I do get my period it’s usually like three or four times a year for, like, a very long, heavy week and I NO LIKEY. Not to mention that what does come out looks less like liquid and more like, aspic. I know, GROSS, but I’ve been needing to get that out (so to speak – oh period humor!) and I promise I will never write about my period times again. So getting picked to stand in the special X-Ray machine was extra super fun, what with the personal baggage and the bleedage.
Okay, whingeing over.
I take an absurd pleasure in having to slog all the way to the C concourse, where the international flights leave from. Like “Ha ha, assholes who are stuck in B concourse — have fun flying to some place boring like, um, Columbus. This bitch is going to London!” My pleasure disappears when I see the gate area overrun by a family consisting of two parents and five small children under the age of 9. The kids are loud and boisterous and not very attractive (sorry). I chug a Coca-Cola from the pretzel stand and double-check my purse for the following to ensure they are present and accounted for:
- ancient laptop
- copy of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
- makeup bag
- “feminine hygiene supplies”
The kids share food and fight over an iPod touch, which the oldest child keeps taking to charge from various outlets scattered around the gate area. When we begin boarding, I’m happy to leave them behind as they try to get themselves sorted. I find my window seat in coach (more happy), which is rather empty (even more happy). The loud family eventually board, and take their seats behind me.
I’m glad that I’m no longer as terrified as flying as I was for that period from September 2007 through January 2010 when the thought of getting on a plane made me want to scream and flail about. I don’t grip the armrest of my seat as we depart so much as, um, caress it with purpose. And maybe I do plant my feet a bit too firmly on the floor beneath my feet. I just tell myself “Physics is real. Physics is real. Physics is real.” while I watch the light grid of Chicago shrink beneath us.
Dinner is “beef”:
I drink a lot of water and ginger ale and coca-cola while I navigate the “new to 1993” seatback entertainment system. Actually, I do find this very exciting, as I’ve never had all these personal entertainment options before. I can watch The Three Musketeers in English, German, French, or Spanish! I can listen to the “alternative rock” or just look at the map which showed us as being a mere 7 hours and 59 minutes away from good old London.
I counted that time in cups of water I drank, the number of times I watched Puss in Boots, and the number of times I had to use the lav to either pee or attend to my lady business. Which was real fun when I saw that I’d run out of my own supplies and started using the stuff United had stashed away for passenger lady times. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I had my pick of the lavs, as there weren’t many passengers and what passengers there were all slept (lucky bastards) while I remained awake, jittery, menstrual, and excited as we glided over the Atlantic towards a new English day.