When my father got us to the airport early, I knew something would go wrong. If we had been ‘down to the wire’ as he likes to say, the plane would have been on time. As it was, we were early. And the plane was late.
I’d been in holiday-mode since the day before. We’d been at a ‘Scottish’ shop not long after it opened, stocking up on shortbread and other suitably-touristy-but-still-tasteful-maybe gifts for my New York family. Soon after, my Dad picked us up for the drive to Glasgow. He and Sarge packed the car with two suitcases (mine was practically empty in anticipation of outlet shopping), our cat and my chair. I sat in the back hoping that all doors would close properly so we wouldn’t lose CJ to the motorway. Sarge sat next to me, and CJ was rather unhappy in her box, perched atop my wheels.
We were ready to go.
To celebrate the impending trip, we went for burgers and milkshakes. And then to Dad’s for an earlyish night before the flight. Sarge took some pictures of George Bailey-Penguin, our travel mascot. I read from our three travel guides until dizzy with excitement. We went to bed, I did not sleep. I counted the hours with the help of the gongs from the clock, the same one I actually learned to count on as a child.
With Broadway show-tunes blasting, Dad drove us to the airport. This was a more comfortable trip without CJ, who would be holidaying with Sarge’s friends.
My Dad used the car journey to give us some final pointers on how to get the most out of NY, saying he was happy we were going, and how he’d be travelling vicariously through us. Later in the trip, I might have one too many hot dogs, one for me and one for Dad.
We left the car after handshakes and hugs. I told my Dad I’d spit off the top of Empire State Building for him.
Now. My wheels have the power to cut check-in queues. We did not, and got in at the end, all as part of the experience. Sarge had checked in online, but found out this was a pointless exercise that saved no time at all. We were sandwiched between another couple and a family wondering why I hadn’t skipped the queue. I was perfectly happy looking around, wondering where everyone was off to. Smiling at Sarge, both excited about and dreading the Mother-Boyfriend Meeting Moment.
My mood was more or less positive. More more than less. Until we got to the desk and heard those fateful words.
‘Your plane is delayed. Two hours. Iceland will handle it if you miss your connection. Have a nice day.’
‘Whut?’ I actually said this, and Sarge led me away before I could say any more. But I did. And what I said surprised me. ‘Damn it. I want to go home.’
‘Pub, pub, pub,’ Sarge said. And after we got through security, Sarge put his shoes back on and we headed beerwards.
As I sipped (a coke), I stared at the screen and mumbled or not. ‘Five years. 16 days. Surprising people. And this couldn’t happen at the other end?’
We went to the gate, when it was finally announced, by way of Boots so Sarge could top up his collection of hay-fever tablets.
We sat some more. As more info trickled down, I found myself inviting a stranger to have a drink while we waited some more.
I’ve been travelling alone since I was 12. I am so used to being on my own in airports that talking to people is a novelty.
Sarge and I took our new friend for a drink, and this time I had a beer. Karen is an an interpreter who speaks a bunch of languages and happens to have CP. We traded stories and laughs and I look forward to doing the same again, somewhere that isn’t an airport.
We trudged back to the gate, and found out that all connections were being held, as 95% of passengers had onward flights out of Keflavik. One day, I’d love to actually stay in Iceland for a holiday. That day, all I wanted to do was land at JFK.
Which we did. Three hours late, but we arrived. And so had the Mother-Boyfriend Meeting Moment.
This is apparently my 100th post! It’s been quite a trip. Thanks for reading along, and please stay tuned to see what happens next! Lx