It had been easy to plan. Perhaps too easy. My husband’s forwarding of the airfare deal had led to another trip across the pond that had been pulled together quickly and nearly effortlessly. I had two sets of gracious hosts, an almost absurdly inexpensive flight, and dates that fit the family’s schedule as perfectly as circumstances allowed. My feathered seer had appeared to me in dreams, visions ,and physical forms, and I felt I had to go. The pieces had seemingly fallen into place of their own will.
Perhaps too easily.
Life, I have learned, rarely unravels before us in the way we envision it. I had felt the shift. The silence in the weeks before my departure, but had tried to ignore it. The plan had changed, but I wasn’t sure how.
The inevitable test began during the flight to London. I was sandwich in the middle of the airplane, between two men, one much larger than the other. The armrests were taken and I knew I could easily succumb to the feeling of entrapment if I allowed it to cloud me in. There would be no slumber, not that I had planned on it. I rarely sleep on airplanes, even when the flights, like this one was, are overnighters. The large man to my right began to snore before the plane taxied down the runway, so loudly, heads turned from several rows away and looks of pity fell upon my face.
Yet, I was determined to make the best of it. I pulled my headphones out of my purse, plugged them into the seat in front of me, and scrolled through the dismal list of films. Two movies and one granola bar and yogurt later, we arrived at Gatwick. I, surprisingly alert.
The trip through customs was quicker than expected, and my train tickets easily purchased. My only mistake, not buying the combo tube ticket because the agent assured me I would get a better rate if I waited until I got to the station. Turns out it’s not so easy to get a ticket if you don’t already have one, or an Oyster card, of which I am now the proud owner.
After some minor scrambled confusion, I got my tube ticket, found the right terminal, and boarded the tube. My friend was waiting at the “meeting place,” and we set off to buy some provisions before we settled into her flat so she could get a few hours of work in, and I some sleep.
The bedroom was cool and welcoming. After I removed the layers of clothing that had enveloped me for the past night and previous day, changed into PJs, and brushed my teeth, I slipped under the duvet and closed my eyes.
And that’s when I saw her. The girl with a blindfold over her eyes. Standing in the hallway, beyond the closed doors. Waiting for me.
Part 1 in a series of posts to follow that will cover my most recent journey to England to study some of its ancient sites.