Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here we go again...


“Next time, know the exact address you’re staying at. Ok?” the female immigration officer said in a kind, but authoritative tone.
“Are you kidding?” I thought to myself, keeping an innocent and ignorant smile. Five hours and fifty minutes before, Delta Flight 148 took off from JFK in New York. With stronger than expected tail winds, we would be arriving an hour earlier than scheduled. Shit. I needed that hour to attempt sleep. Three hours before the flight departed, I arrived to an empty departure hall, late on a Friday evening.  A deep freeze had set into the Northeast, but I chose to leave my jacket in the car. I was after all only going to Nepal, home to the Himalayas, and a daytime temperature of 70 degrees.  Wondering the duty-free stores and fast food chains, I waited clutching my cell phone. Two hours before then, I had received a dreaded email from the friend I had planned to spend the weekend with: “Stuck in Madrid for the weekend. Sorry. Do you know anyone else in London?”
Never plan. It won’t work.
Of course, I know other people in London. There are the two ex-girlfriends; both who would enjoy promising me a place and then sending me to random addresses as payback for, well, everything. But, alas, I knew there were a few souls that if I worded the plea just right (HELP! I’m stuck!), would worry that such an obvious karmic ploy would strike them down if they were to leave me out.
And then Becks the Rockstar answered! I had not seen her in years, and an occasional chat on Facebook was our only communication in the meantime.  When her message came though, my neck released all the tension that a possible 36-hour stay in London’s Heathrow Airport could build. 
In the broken language of international texting, directions came through as: Take tube from Heathrow to Green Park, then take Victoria line to Stockwell, then Northern line to Clapham North. Call me when you’re there.
Three thousand miles later and an hour earlier than I had expected, I stood before the immigration lady explaining that I was staying in Claphan North. I did not know if this was an actual neighborhood, or just the name of a London Underground station. Either seemed appropriate, I was after all homeless and at the mercy of another's charity. Why not call a subway station home for the night?
As I left the officer and her warning, I cursed planning. Maybe hours ahead, not days, forget weeks, and certainly never months. Day 1 done, an hour ahead of schedule.

1 comment:

  1. A wing and a prayer seems to be the family motto about travel plans, but most of times we land on our feet no matter where we go. Kevin, this adventure sounds like it will be a great one for you. So where did you stay your first night....