Getting there: ORF to LHR

June 17, 2014

I had everything packed superbly for my trip this past January to Costa Rica: a two-person tent, stove, light sleeping bag, clothes, emergency food – all carefully coralled into water-resistant bags in case of rain. But England proved different. I needed clothes for all sorts of temperatures and weather and outings and FOR THREE MONTHS. After two unsuccessful attempts at being organized, I began to just throw random things into bags the morning of my departure. The two bags I wound up with must have been 90 pounds combined. And I do not believe in bags with wheels. So that’s 80% of my body weight deadlifted and then hauled on my shoulders. I was definitely on the struggle bus – or rather struggle tube – getting from Heathrow to my hostel.

Actually, the whole trip there was a struggle. 

At the ticket counter in Norfolk, I was only issued one ticket from Norfolk to JFK, and not my ticket from JFK to London. When I asked why, the attendant gave me explicit instructions to get to JFK and then “tell someone you need help.” This sounded like a really solid plan, backed up with the cryptic sidenote that I may have to completely exit the terminal and re-go through security. Awesome.

My plane out of Norfolk was already 20 minutes late before we then sat on the tarmac forever in the stifling hot cabin. After 30 minutes the plane turned around and went back to the terminal so we could all get into the air conditioning. The captain grumbled something over the intercom that even the stewardess couldn’t interpret. A lady in the back yelled “Obama’s at JFK ya’ll, he’s holding us up.” (To fully appreciate this, please repeat it to yourself in your loudest accusatory voice, with that special emphasis on the ‘O’ in Obama – you know what I’m talking about). I rolled my eyes at how presidents get blamed for every little thing, most of which they have no control over. Hilariously though, she was right. Air Force One was at JFK, and apparently that means no flights are allowed to go out or come in. Including ours. I did eventually arrive two hours later, but had missed my connection. I arrived and asked for help, as originally instructed, and got a 10:30pm flight out – my checked baggage (amazingly) and I happily made it. I did have to re-go through security, but that was mostly my fault as I got turned around in a construction area and went through the wrong door.

I got almost no sleep on the red-eye. A 6-hour flight seemed like a legitimate opportunity to do so, but they kept you awake for two hours for dinner and then woke you up two hours early for breakfast, add a movie in between and you’re screwed. Before I left, my friend Tracee had mistaken Nottingham (the city I am doing research in) with Notting Hill (a suburb of London) and had proceeded to describe the wonders that awaited me based on the 90’s film of the same name. I had never seen the movie so that became my free, in-flight entertainment. Pretty sure I giggled awkwardly loud.

Despite the stressful circumstances, I knew I would get there eventually. I found myself humming “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine goes down” as I walked through the terminals. London, here I come!

I’m coming home, I’m coming home, Tell the world that I’m coming home


Originally I had planned to visit William and Mary for another round of birthday celebrations before coming home for the weekend, but hurricane Irene began to look more and more frightening on the radar screen. Even if the severity was all hyped up and nothing would happen (as usual) any major storm would flood my street, turning my neighborhood into a secluded island. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal – but it was Thursday and my new internship started Monday morning in Tennessee. So, I would simply reverse my order, going home for a day and then seek shelter at the higher ground of Williamsburg.

Except, just as I pulled into the driveway of my house for the first time in three months, the college emergency notification service called me and an automated voice declared that the college would be closed as of noon tomorrow. Everyone out of the dorms now. I immediately went into contact mode – did everyone have transportation? Where were out of state students going to stay? Was there any sort of plan? I hastily and grumpily flung my clothes from the car into the laundry before massively unloading the rest of my clown-packed car into the living room. Soon I learned that everyone was accounted for, a relief despite my disappointment in not getting my college reunion.

I visited my next-door neighbor Ann and got some delicious and calming pie and soon after my dad came home from the grocery store. My cats were delighted to see me (at least I would like to think so) and I cuddled Graycie until she began to look annoyed. Meanwhile, my relatives from my dad’s side of the family in upstate New York were in town. It was the first trip down that they had been able to make in years and the hurricane was about to cut it short. Again, though it was the first time I had seen my dad in several months, soon we were both out the door to meet up with the relatives for dinner. It was wonderful to see everyone again and the restaurant we ate at had the most gorgeous waterside backdrop – made even more impressive by the tempestuous winds beginning to toy with the waves.

We came home full and happy, and I vegged on the couch eating more junk food (and by that I really mean popcorn) and watching more tv (and by that I mean a USA marathon of Psych that turned into another marathon of Monk) than I had in a while.

The next morning we said good-bye to my Aunt Lorraine, Uncle Bill, Aunt Judy, and Uncle Doug before they began the drive west away from the storm. I continued to stuff my car full of whatever random things I believed I would need for the coming semester. My visit home had been less than 24 hours, but I needed to push on.