Herewith a continuing account of the adventures in England in 2017, written on the spot with scant reworking. The events depicted took place two weeks ago.
This was a bad day.
I am doing pretty good with the whole breathing thing, considering. I am writing this now because otherwise I will pace and inhale entire cigars three at a time.
We’ll get to that in a bit. Here’s what I wrote in the bar two hours ago.
Left Walbers at 7:30 this morning; took a hired car back to Heathrow. Same company as last year. That’s just what you do up there, I guess - the train’s possible, it’s always possible, except when it’s not - lines out of service for repair, bus legs, etc. The locals are complaining. A car is simply more efficient, even if it means sitting becalmed on these silly little paths they call highways. To be fair, the East Coast is no better, and I enjoy the peculiar merging arrangements and highway signage, and seeing a sign that said SLOUGH.
At Heathrow - an airport I just don’t get yet; vast - I made sure she had battery power and money and the other irritating things you do when you’re sending your child off, and she said yes, yes, yes, she’ll be fine, and hug and she was off.
Stood outside watching planes go, waiting for my car, feeling resigned, old, and alone.
Back on the road. Yes, I am certainly in England.
Now I’m here at the Botley Hotel and Spa, waiting for lunch. Shall we take a tour?
The road from the parking lot leads to a path through the woods, which are about four yards deep, after which you come to a busy road. But ah, look over there - it’s another path, leading to . . . I don’t know, the Benchery.
That brings us up to NOW, where I am trying to breathe with nice deep regular breaths. After lunch I laid down for a while, went out in an instant - then woke with a jolt. Daughter had to change in Reykavik.
Did she have the second boarding pass?
I’d sent them all to her phone - sorry, this is England, her MO-bile - but hadn’t checked to see if the second one was included. Called up the pdf of her boarding pass (always send them to email, and save a pdf for printing, and send them to your phone) and it had both boarding passes. Whew. Well, she was good.
But where was she?
She didn’t pop up on the network, so she was in flight. A few minutes later, ding! and I got a text. She was in Iceland, and a bit worried about making it to the gate for the Minneapolis leg of the flight, since A) the plane was late, B) it was taking forever to deplane, C) she had to take a bus to another terminal, and so on. I was looking at her location on my phone, because this is the 21st century, and realized at one point she might not make it.
My child was alone in Iceland and might not make her flight.
Sooooo I got online and found a room in town and checked out the Greyline schedule to get her there, then said no, she’ll make it, she’s resourceful, she’ll find it, she’ll get there - gah, go outside and light six more cigars all at once and pace back and forth like the cartoon expectant fathers in the waiting room.
Until I realized I had the hour wrong, and she had plenty of time to get there. Watched her make her way through the terminal on my phone, then sent a text that said I would not be asking her if she was at the right gate and the sign said MSP because that would be insulting. She texts back:
It turns out I am actually in NORWAY! These airports all look alike.
Then nothing until she grudgingly texted from the plane that she was on board.
And there the solo leg of my vacation began.
All seems to be going well. Except for the fact that the entire vacation blew up, you know. We were all going to go to Walberswick, then come down here to Southampton for the cruise. Daughter begged off because of school, Wife because of Scout, and now I’m here a day early in a resort where there is bugger all to do, unless you’re here to do the Spa Thing, and I am not going to be massaged or have my hair done. I expect I’ll see some things tomorrow, but now the day just stretches ahead long and broad and empty.
Six days away, and it feels like I’ve been gone a month. That’s good, even though I know Scout won’t be found by the time I’m back, and it’s straight into that again . . . but not for a while. Not for a while.
If Walberswick saw the best days of the year, today contained the worst. I have spent the night walking around and going out to the cigar area and reading tweets and blubbering. God, it was all for naught. He was never out there. He was gone, as I wrote the night it happened, the night he fled.
This you probably know, because I posted it in the comments of the Hiatal Bleat. Posted the news on Twitter, and reading through all these tweets and messages from people of course brings on the flood all over again. Took off my glasses to daub away the leakage, and a lens popped out. Since I always keep a glasses repair kit in my satchel I tried to put the tiny screw into the hole, which is approximately one-half micrometer across, and I couldn’t do it, and welled up again, and lost the screw in the carpet, which I tried to find on my hands and knees, face wet. All it needs is some kindly old lady who watched the whole thing totter over, pat me on the shoulder and say have you considered contact lens, luv. My daughter has them and she says she doesn’t miss glasses at all.
No relief, alas. Some consolation in knowing he wasn’t out in the alleys for three weeks alone and scared. There’s a strange sense of unreality that attends the excursions we made when a report came in.
He was never there.
This is an awful thing to work through here in this place. I hate this place. I hate this day.
Tomorrow’s the end of the month and I’ve never been so glad to see an August go as this one. Tomorrow everyone arrives.
Tomorrow there's going to be a party.