On Saturday, Sarge and I went shopping. It looked a little something like this:
20 people have liked this on Facebook so far. Second only to the announcement of our engagement. I’m also getting a lot of compliments on my shoes. Before you ask, they are from here. I may also send this photo to This Is What Disability Looks Like.
When we got home, Sarge wondered aloud: how many pillows can you fit in a washing machine?
Two, apparently. We checked:
On Sunday, we went to a friend’s birthday party. Where I discovered another way to eat more vegetables. Pakora everything.
After that, on the way to my (almost) in-laws’ house for dinner, I looked up and found this:
My new favourite sound is the pop of a champagne cork. There was lots of popping this weekend to officially celebrate the engagement of The Butterfly and The Penguin. Saturday saw 364 days until the wedding. Not even a little rain could damper our mood or the bonfire.
Sarge’s best man has a burning twice year. Bits of wood and old furniture go up in flames in the name of friendship and film references. This time, we called it an Engagement Burning and toasted marshmallows and bubbly.
A lot of the photos featured a chicken hat. And me stuffing my face. When I wasn’t eating, I was laughing. Or exclaiming ‘I’m getting freakin’ married’, at which point I would hug Sarge. Or a member of the Bridal Crew. Or my Dad. Whoever was with closer.
At various points during the day, I thought of people who couldn’t be there. And I had a moment for each of them. And then we got serenaded under a gazebo by the only friend I have who has curlier hair than I do.
Dad wore his beard hat, which looks surprisingly like his own beard. There in the rain with Dad on one side and Sarge on the other I thought, best day ever. And then Dad said, ‘I’ll be alright.’
‘Yes. Best day ever,’ I said aloud.
‘So far,’ said Sarge.
Most people left to catch the last train, but there was dancing and singing in the living-room until 3 AM. Everything from Queen to Edith Piaf to Starship. And nostalgia mixed with YouTube and cider results in The Macarena.
‘Lorna, turn off the video.’
‘It’s not on. Iforgottopressthebutton.’
The next day, after coming home with cards and flowers and a patched up flat tire, the conversation went something like this:
‘If you delete the video, I’ll delete that photo of you and the marshmallow skewer,’ said Sarge.
‘Deal,’ I said.
Our relationship is based on love, respect and lack of blackmail evidence.
One hundred and fifty pages and an empty bag later, we arrived in Peterborough to catch the train to Cambridge. The only thing possibly worthy of note is the fact that there was a wheelbarrow in the accessible toilet.
After one more, much shorter train journey, we met the wonderful Emily from Emily Drinking Tea and her equally wonderful husband and went off in the direction of their local pub where I broke my self-imposed no cider rule and had some lovely ice-cream.
On the way to their house afterwards, I lost count of the number of cyclists whizzing past, and we met a hedgehog not going nearly as fast. It was all very quaint.
Now, our friends have a very lovely, but very narrow house. After we squeezed the chair in the front door, I found myself with an actual gin and lemonade in my hand. It must have been a strong one, because I fell asleep watching The Thick of It, only waking up to actually drag ass up the stairs and check out their incongruously large bathroom.
The next morning, there was really strong coffee and Emily’s homemade bagels.
We took the scenic route into town along the river, and met Sarge’s friends for what turned out to be lunch, before getting lost in a bookshop.
Sarge and I came out with a pretty good combined haul and I may have taken some photos of the sky. I do that when I’m happy.
We had really good Indian take-away and Emily’s homemade raspberry strudel, and I discovered my new favourite drink when elderflower cordial was added to another gin and lemonade. I might have pretended I was Anne Shirley for a moment.
We stayed up until one o’clock and I really did fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The next morning, we finished off the bagels and watched Mr Cat enthralled with an iPad.
Too soon, it was up a taxi ramp and time for a backwards goodbye. Our train snacks didn’t taste as good this time. But I did start and finish The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.
Sarge and I arrived in Edinburgh and scrambled our stuff.
‘Where’s your butterfly bag?’ asked Sarge.
‘Stuffed in your bag.’
‘No, it isn’t.’
‘I thought you had it.’
‘Well, I thought you had it.’
Luckily I’d given Sarge my phone, which is probably why I forgot my bag. After something akin to the scene where they realise Kevin is Home Alone, I texted Emily and asked her to have a look around, hoping it was safely upstairs. It was. And now it’s in the post.
I arrived home feeling lighter. Maybe it was the lovely trip. Maybe because I was bagless. Maybe both.
Last weekend, Sarge and I went to the pub (OK, two pubs) to meet with friends and prove that he had survived meeting my mother. We left the first pub in search of another one with an accessible toilet.
I spend half my life needing to pee, and the other half looking for an accessible toilet to pee in. I have accepted this as an interesting/annoying part of my life, and go with it. Or not. (Pun maybe intended, I haven’t decided.)
Anyway. We arrive at what has become one of my favourite places to drink. Comfy couches, generous measures, and the much sought-after accessible toilet. A girl could get spoiled. Almost.
On this night, I ordered and made my way to the bathroom, where I did not have to pop my shoulder to lock the door. Maybe that was the problem, it was too easy.
Fast forward to turning to leave. And I couldn’t. No, there was no dubious graffiti to hold my attention (although, nothing beats ‘Stephen Hawking hates karaoke’ which I read off the wall of an accessible toilet in Glasgow once. OK, maybe twice.) No, the walls were clean this time.
The door that had been so easy to lock wouldn’t unlock. That’s right. I was locked in the toilet. By myself.
The latch was, um, bent. I tried to push it through with my nail(s), which until this point I’d wondered why I’d let them get so long. That didn’t work. I may have rattled. I may have banged. I may have looked for the emergency cord, which, when needed, wasn’t actually there. I may have cursed graduating from bobby pins in my hair. I may have shouted ‘Hey, you guys?!’ And then, ‘Lo?’ And then, ‘YO!’ I may have done all of these things. And then I banged some more.
Now. I wasn’t really worried. I just wondered at what point Laissez-faire would become ‘What the hell is she doing in there?’
There was a knock. I froze. Who would it be to spring me? And who would I be to them? Would I be my-loveable-kooky-girlfriend or some-random-crazy-bird-who-locked-herself-in-the-loo?
‘It’s me, are you OK?’ When Sarge became my Knight in Shining Army Boots, this was not in the job description.
‘Um, no. The lock is (broken). I can’t get out.’
‘Oh. Right. I’ll get the bar staff.’
And he might have said, ‘My girlfriend is locked in the toilet.’
‘They said to push the latch with your finger.’
‘Tried that. Not working.’
And I heard someone else. ‘Oh. Right.’ And then, ‘Stand back. I’ll kick the door in.’
And so. I parked between the toiled and the far wall, and actually shut my eyes. ‘Ready!’
As doors go, this one went quickly I suppose.
‘We’ll have someone fix that. Very sorry. Can I offer you a drink on the house?’
‘YES.’ I’d forgotten I wasn’t speaking through a door. ‘I think so. Yes. Thanks. And a round for my friends?’
We decided afterwards we should have ordered Champagne.
And so. If you ever want free drinks, consider getting locked in the toilet. And then don’t do it.
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