After I left Thailand, I flew to London. It seemed like a solid choice to avoid any more possible airport disruptions and cancellations, considering the lack of restrictions in the UK. Plus, I have friends there and there are acro jams and it’s a great city for vegans. So I figured it would be a win-win. I’d get a stop over, take a little break from the long journey back home, and fit a few things I love in between.
I wasn’t wrong.
My time in London has been a whirlwind. I came over to stay with someone I’d been getting to know for a few months, who I didn’t know all that well—partially as an act of faith and partially to cut to the chase. It was a risk, but one I was willing to take because I realise as I get older that I can’t be bothered to waste time playing the waiting game. It also is part of nomad life. Trusting others who you’ve only just met because you believe in the relatively instant connection we can make with others during travel. Best case, we get on really well and then see where it can go. Worst case, we get on alright and become friends. I didn’t see an option for it to be worse. And thankfully, it wasn’t. In fact, it went better than I could’ve ever imagined. Even the weather was beautiful; a rarity for London.
Good music was our soundtrack and I felt I was in a movie in his incredible top floor flat. I was instantly comfortable when I walked in and saw that I’d be surrounded by plants and books, and showered with an incredible amount of natural light coming in through the huge windows and skylight in the roof. I’d have been content to stay there and read, practice my yoga, talk, cook, and write, but he had a whole itinerary planned. Every day filled with activities he thought I’d enjoy. Some pre-booked and some more flexible. All with adequate breaks in between at planned nearby restaurants with all-vegan menus. Although it wasn’t meticulously planned to the point of me feeling pulled around from one place to another, it was obvious there was a lot of thought put in to each activity and location and there was even a guided tour with pertinent historical (or personal) context. It had been awhile since I’ve set foot in London so it felt brand new and exciting to explore as an adult, and with a local no less.
We got along famously and were able to cross a lot of things off his list during the day time. The night, however, was a different story. By 19:00 most nights I really struggled to keep my eyes open. Many times I felt as if I was intoxicated by sleep, unable to carry myself or function appropriately, let alone keep my eyes open. I wanted to blame the jet lag but I had no trouble sleeping at night. Sure I’d wake up at 6 am and start my day with meditation, but this wasn’t so much out of the norm. And it certainly wasn’t enough to excuse me from being able to stay up until at least 21:00. Nonetheless, that was our plight. We managed to work with it still, and he modified his plans as we went along to accommodate for it. Anyway the main goal was to spend time together and get to know each other. It didn’t matter so much what we were doing.
When time came to leave it was a bittersweet feeling. I was ready to go back to work, missing my house and my children and my passion. Ready to stop lugging around and living out of heavy suitcases. But I wasn’t ready for this part of the trip to come to an end. I also wasn’t ready for the travel. I’ve now become anxious about traveling as it just seems to get more and more complicated.
I got to the airport more than 2 hours ahead of departure time and found a disgusting queue coming from a desk area where only 2 agents were working. I knew straight away it was not looking good. After waiting more than 1.5 hours in the queue, we finally got to the desk to be told that they had closed the check-in. It didn’t matter how much we explained that we’d been in line all the time or that I had another flight to catch from the destination. Guy was not budging. This again.
Once again I was left without a flight back. It was Sunday morning. I had work on Monday. I didn’t know what to do.
If I thought only in loss of money, this trip would have defeated me long ago. Considering that I’d planned for it to be less expensive than staying in Cayman, it has definitely not gone according to plan. I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to choose the best and least expensive route. And, I had run out of time to spare.
In the end I lost all the money on the flight to Oslo but was able to rebook the Oslo to Fort Lauderdale one with only a $10 difference. Small mercies. I was also able to cancel and keep the flight credit for Cayman Airways and use my credit with Southwest from when I first had to cancel my return flight to rebook for a third time. But the next flight out of Oslo was not for another few days. I’d miss work and spend another 3 full days in London—halfway feeling guilty about missing work and halfway excited to spend more time together. It meant a little more time to explore the city. It meant another acro jam where I’d fall pretty badly onto my back. It meant more of that delicious vegan Chinese food. It meant more quality bonding time and me falling asleep a few more times at the dinner table and trying to energise myself so we could go listen to live music or go to open mic or a rooftop bar.
But after the second time of suffering through a 30-min Uber ride back home where I’d again miss all the sights because I was asleep in the back seat, I decided to call it quits on night life. On the last night, I opted to just go home after our 7 o’clock dinner and miss out on two more things he had planned for the evening. It was the responsible choice.
I’m still leaving London feeling extremely exhausted and guilty about missing the classroom setup with my coworkers, especially since I’m the lead. But I’m satisfied with all the memories and stories I get to tell. And my heart is both full and beating loudly and it’s been amazing to feel her come alive again in this way after so long.
Too bad it feels like I left bits of her scattered about in London.