Monday, November 14, 2011
The Journey Begins
I'm sitting here in the middle of the bustling London airport. It's 8:30 am local time, but my body tells me it's 3:30 am. I just ordered a bowl of British porridge for breakfast and consumed it slowly, blissfully. My standard for oatmeal will forevermore have a new definition.
The sounds of muffled polite conversation, squeaking escalators, and final boarding calls surround me. People of every nationality and costume and accent walk by me. A British mum with two little girls was ahead of me in line at "Pret" (where I got my porridge) and I just had to smile at how darling the girls' accent was.
People watching is better than usual here. What are women wearing? How do they cut their hair? How do they do their makeup? No more of the heavy Southern eye shadow in vivid hues, that's certain. Can I tell if this or that person is a foreigner? The minute they open their mouth it removes all doubt, but I've lost my touch at judging it just by sight. Except for the tennis shoes. That's still a dead giveaway. And the shorts.
Soon my gate will be announced for my flight to Madrid, and I will be able to walk down to wherever it is. My foot aches from where I broke my toe a couple of weeks ago. All this walking on hard tile floors has been hard on it. How grateful I am for my comfortable tennis shoes. Let them give me away as an American. I would not be able to bear the agony of a pair of cute boots right now.
On the flight to London, I sat next to a delightful elderly couple on their way to a cruise in Athens. They were Christians and had been on several mission trips themselves, mostly with Josh McDowell (whom they happened to know personally) and with Campus Crusade.
After we had exchanged initial pleasantries, I asked Gail a question (something like "Are you going to see the Parthenon when you go to Athens?"), which she referred to her husband, saying, "I'm not really good at listening and following a conversation." Hmmm...I hadn't noticed, I thought, but all I said was, "I'm sorry."
We continued talking, and the rest of the flight was a curious mixture of lucid conversation and random, surreal statements. For instance, we talked about the 5 Love Languages book, which she had at home, and neither of us could remember the author's name. Much later, after I had fallen asleep and awoken, she said, "I asked my husband. Gary Smalley is the name of the guy who...does the cursive writing." I knew what she meant. Another time, upon seeing the bright white light at the end of the wing, she said, "Look at that lone car out there, driving."
Ah, life. How it spices up our existence with unexpected, unpredictable things.