Leaving Home

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October 26, 2007

I left San Francisco at 1 PM. It was the usual event-driven departure. Last minute before leaving the house changes of mind. Packing and unpacking to find the perfect arrangement of baggage and stow-away versus take aboard decisions. Making sure to take aboard all those things I couldn’t do without in case the bags got held up or more horrible, lost. This of course included, meds, make-up, the Nuvi,( which would navigate us around Europe) the phone and earpiece, the camera, the ipod, French-English dictionary (large and small pocket-sized), the tome of 500 French verbs and their conjugations for study on the plane, and all the various chargers, plugs and cables necessary to make everything work in the various venues we might visit.

Up to the moment of leaving, I am thinking about what I can’t do without for the long 11 hour plane ride as well as what is safe passing through the hands of many airport workers as the bags move, out of sight, from one continent to the other. I would prefer these things to be in my care the whole time.

We arrived at the airport poised for the beginning of this adventure and with plenty of time to savor the departure, the farewell to Eugene for the month we’d be separated. Then the awakening. I checked in at the counter, the woman looked at my ticket, looked at my carry-ons and sweetly informed me that I would be allowed only one, emphatically only one, carry-on on the plane to Nice from London’s Heathrow airport.

I looked at my solidly packed duffle and the equally well-packed 2 carry-ons, not to mention the smart bag slung across my hip and said “you’re kidding”! Absolutely not she said. You will have to pack everything into the bag you’re checking in or buy another somewhere in the airport and pack it with one of the carry-ons to ship through to Nice. My choices were clear.

All the plans of taking aboard with me anything of value, dissolved in that moment. We rushed to Brookstone (how many times I’d passed these places and wondered who in the world every bought any of this stuff) tried to find a bag that would have some use in the future, bought the bag, the lock, the luggage tag, repacked the “carry-ons” leaving it to heaven that all would be there when I got my bags at the other end.

It’s now 6 AM and we’re about to land in London. A pleasant uneventful flight. The food the usual though some of it edible and the staff extremely friendly and efficient. I tried fooling myself into believing I slept the night and thought it passed quickly. I merely dozed and most of the time lay back pretending to be asleep as if the brain can be fooled. Watched a little Sherlock Holmes on my computer (DVD), read a little Oliver Sacks about music and the brain, listened to a bit of music on my ipod, all the time, as a woman of a certain age, feeling a little smug about my “savoir electronique”.

A 3 hr. layover at Heathrow and then on to Nice, praying both bags make it there with me. Though we’ve arrived early, we’re in the inevitable holding pattern over London for at least another ½ hr, making up for “gained time”.

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