Monday, January 14, 2013

January 2013 - Home to Home - Part I

Clock Tower near Birmingham, England
 An epic journey home to the West Coast of America marked the beginning of my holiday hiatus.  Thinking to be quite clever, I spent a bit more on tickets, choosing to fly to Amsterdam and then take a direct 13 hour flight to Portland.  Alas, arriving at Birmingham hours early to accommodate international travel, I was greeted with the news that it was snowing in Amsterdam.  Lovely, I innocently thought.  Not only will I see the country of my forefather's origins but it will be very Christmassy!  This is, however, when I learned that planes do not fly in the snow if they can help it and that one of the things that the Brits do best is "queue."

Used to American efficiency and a certain amount of impatience in being thwarted by one's travel plans (did I say that nicely?), no one else in line seemed to be at all surprised when we had to wait for someone from KLM to show up to reroute us... all 200 plus of us.  I fortunately was in the beginning of the line (early arrival has its perks). The someone from KLM showed up and was just that... one...  someone.  There were actually two but one was shunted off to the side to handle elite ticket holders, class will out!

 I met the loveliest people in line: a young blond, blue-eyed student going home to Finland and three British South Africans journeying to visit family.  The nearly three hours in queue passed pleasantly.  I was rerouted to Dublin, a four hour layover, then Boston, and finally home.  Flight time was up 50%.  So much for expensive tickets.  But at least I was going home or so I thought.

Flight into the morning
Arriving in Boston, I was told to take the shuttle to the ticket counter.  Being inexperienced, I did.  "I'm sorry, madam, but your gate is closed."  "Yes," I replied hopefully.  "Call them and tell them I'm here and have them hold it please."  "That is not possible.  The gate is closed."  "My luggage is on that flight.  I've been in these clothes for 24 hours.  I have no American money with me. Can I speak with your supervisor?" My American impatience was beginning to crack. Failing to impact Boston, I began to cry (didn't work!).  "I don't even have a toothbrush," I exclaimed.  Boston mumbled something about not scheduling adequate time between international and domestic flights, arranged to put me in a hotel overnight, gave me a toothbrush and a small packet of sundries, and a $6 meal voucher for dinner and another for breakfast.  I walked to the hotel, dropped what little I had in my room and went downstairs to eat.  $6 voucher + Boston prices = a very nice dinner salad and since they didn't take pounds Sterling, I now have $1.42 on my American Express card.  The next day I was rerouted to Atlanta, Georgia, before being sent homeward.  Fourty-six hours all totaled!

And the hours traveling faded like dew on a sunny morning when my little three-year-old grandson rounded the corner of the kitchen and saw his Nana sitting on the kitchen floor playing with his cousin.  He looked like a young fawn startled in a thicket.  I raised my arms.  He ran and buried himself in my lap.  The journey... what journey?  That moment filled my heart, healed my aching body, and brought me fully home.

Please join me next week for Part II of "Home to Home" or "What I Did On My Christmas Vacation."  See you then.

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