The next morning was a particularly unbearable bit of self-inflicted misery, because it involved getting to the airport. I’m not particularly happy when the airport is two miles away and I don’t have a two-hour cushion, but when it’s two-and-a-half hours away by car and my cushion is shrinking to the size of a Life-Saver lozenge, it’s like my skeleton gets hideously itchy and wants to spring out.
About 40 minutes out - most of which was on quaint two-land roads with limited speed, winding through old villages - we hit a main road and a major tie-up. Nothing moved. I saw around the curve into the distance and there was nothing moving as far as the eye could behold.
Nightmare: a long ways away from the airport, stuck in immovable traffic whose tie-up had no discernible cause, and there was no way to control any of it.
Of course, we made it. The tie-up eventually loosened, after AN HOUR, and it ate an hour out of our time, but the lines at the airport were scant - perhaps because everyone had cancelled, fearing INDUSTRIAL ACTION. You get a quick interrogation before you check your bags. An airline rep asks where you were and where you stayed. Perhaps you're judged on alacrity or stammering or general demeanor, but I don't know what they do with the information.
The bags sent off, we headed up to the security line, which is hidden behind a wall. You don't know until you turn the corner how bad it's going to be, which is probably wise. You queue for the passport check, then head around a wall -
OH MY GOD
THERE'S NO ONE HERE
This was all going very well. Daughter got dinged for an item, though, so we had to wait. The people in front of us who'd had their bags marked for inspection had attempted to pack three weeks of clothes for a family of nine in one bag, and upon opening it the entire contents of a department store fell out. Not to be judgmental, but the way some people pack always amazes me. Also, if I can be judgmental, the way some people pack always amazes me.
We were through. The work was over. Tume to spend all my coins in the vending machine and read the Telegraph. Walked to the gate, heard my name - why, it's a reader! Daughter, I can tell, is in OMG mode now, because she knows I'll never get over this, being recognized in Heathrow. It was a fellow from Iowa who'd been teaching in the UK, IIRC; if you're reading this, decloak in the comments and say hello!
Boarded with relief and regret. Left with relief and regret. Settled in for eight hours of eating. Really: first you get the hot towel that goes cold instantly, then the drink and Cheez-Its and biscotti, then the main meal (which, again, was excellent), then after sleep there's a snack, and finally there's chocolate.
Everyone has dessert on the plane, I think. No one turns it down. You never know.
I mean it's the safest form of travel and all that but you never know.
The flight back is always easier. When you wake from the fitful sleep of a flight going east over the Atlantic it never feels right, and whatever hour you get on you feel as if you are being smuggled in violation of some law. Going west it's light all the way.
So! That was this year’s jaunt. Now to home, and the last few weeks before Daughter goes off to college. Then the Fair, and then the summer’s past.
Which is fine. Glad to see the back of it. Summer ended when we settled the bill at the Anchor.