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Hopping the Pond (Part 2)

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So – the last 24 hours in Portland.

Mom’s partner Celia kindly drove her up to Portland so she could stay the night with us. The *intention* was for her to get a ride home from D the next morning as, clearly, she’d be too bereft at the loss of me (such a Leo!) to drive safely. Thing is, tho, stubbornness is genetic and I had to get it from somewhere. Guess who? Just as well, though, as I gave Mom my car when I left and she had to get it home somehow. Off topic: I love the fact that Mom now owns two VW Beetles – one green, one yellow. The only thing better than owning a car that makes people punch each other randomly (SLUGBUG!) is having *two* cars that make people punch each other randomly.

I don’t remember much about the last night, to be honest. I think largely it consisted of glazed expressions, mild nausea and an overwhelming feeling that I was forgetting something so important that the entire fabric of the space-time continuum would begin to unravel the moment the plane lifted off the tarmac. Somewhere in there was dinner, some friends popping by to pick up clothes that didn’t make the “is this worth $70 in luggage overages?” cut, a bit of crying, and far-too-many cigarettes.

The next morning, after sorting out my final details and donning my predetermined airplane outfit (all grieving-widow black, natch), I stumbled out into the living room to the smell of bacon. D&L had, very sweetly, gotten up early to cook a spectacular breakfast. The lovely JK (she was an integral part of planning my going away party as well as simply being an outstanding human being in general) had just arrived as well to help us caravan to the airport. Everyone was buzzing around, Mom was chopping things to keep herself busy, Girl was packing up her last minute items, D&L were cooking and, after being advised that I was pale, sweating and shaking, I was banished to the front porch with JK where I took deep breaths until I got a hold on myself.

I nibbled a bagel halfheartedly, cursing the nausea for ruining my chances at enjoying such a delicious and well-intentioned spread, and held hands with Mom as the reality of leaving sunk in. I won’t lie, there was some ugly-crying going on. Kindly, everyone else was suddenly HIGHLY FASCINATED by their breakfast plates and made room for Mom and I to have our moment with minimal awkwardness. And then, it was time to go.

We piled ourselves and our luggage into two cars and hit the road. Again, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about in the car. All I remember is being worried about my Mom and still convinced that I was forgetting something globally catastrophic. The goodbyes at the airport were fast and fraught and sweet and hard. But the well-wishes were just as palpable. And as folks pulled away, the Girl and I lugged our baggage inside and started the business of actually leaving.

One thing – the Girl and I booked our flights separately since she had a round-trip and I didn’t. We’d called the airline to try to get seats together and they’d told us that the only seats available were two middle seats, one directly behind the other. Now let me tell you, the prospect of a middle seat is no fun for anyone but, for a fatty, it’s the stuff of nightmares. We took our plight to the woman at the counter and, as sympathetic as she was, it sounded like she wasn’t going to be able to do anything for us. She did, however, suggest that I grab an airsick bag and make gagging motions to entice the person next to me to swap seats with Simone- which was funny. “Works every time!” she said. But somehow, over the next 15 minutes of luggage wrangling and joking conversation, she pulled a fast one on us and, as we arrived at the gate we found ourselves with sneakily upgraded tickets. Economy Plus at no extra charge *and* two seats together! Whoever you are, United Check-In Lady, we love you!

Also, props to United Economy Plus — not only did the seatbelt fit me but, with the extra leg room, the tray table even came all the way down. It bumped my belly a bit but it was doable. The armrest wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world but it came down and felt tolerable. Luckily, however, I was with the Girl and I could put it up and relax – the relief of that was immense. As the plane rattled down the runway and the tears began to come again, I wondered how on Earth I’d have managed to wrangle the immensity of leaving without her beside me. I watched Portland get smaller and smaller in the distance and felt a strange mix of grief and the tingles of excitement creeping in around the edges.

This was really happening. After two long years of preparation, of skype dates and months between kisses, of paperwork and uncertainty, of hard emotional work and profound epiphanies — I was really moving to London. I was really going to be with the Girl. I was really going to try on not only a new city, but a new continent, a new culture and a new direction.

After 13 hours in the air and an uneventful layover in Chicago, our plane touched ground in London. I filled out my landing card and the Girl and I parted ways – her to the quick-moving line for UK residents and me to the heaving mass of over-excited tourists and hopeful emigrants. After being in the shuffling for 20 minutes, I got to the sign that said “Expect a 30 minute wait from this sign.” I txt’d the Girl who was already waiting on the other side and she wandered off to pick up the luggage. I’d been advised to keep a copy with me of everything I used to prove legitimacy for my Visa and, with nearly an hour in line to freak myself out, I was completely convinced that something was going to go horribly awry by the time I finally got to the customs official. Instead, she asked me a few easy questions, slapped a few stamps on my passport and all but clapped me on the ass as I walked through.

That was it! I was in! The other side of that customs gate felt like some weird kind of rebirth. As I made my way to baggage claim, I smiled to myself. No more goodbyes. I live here now. In LONDON!


9 comments

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  1. Love. You.
    Your mom is stubborn. I almost threw up kniowing I was breaking my promise to you, but she is also a mom. And a beautiful, lovely one at that. Even in her grief, she convinced and reassured me that she would be fine and that you would not be mad at me. Your mom having to reassure me. See? That was my trick to get her home safely. Worrying about me. (not)
    Great to hear this story. Oh, and for edification, i cooked breakfast, your Girl cut up bagels, Your mom cut up fruit stuff, and Lisa slept liek a baby until food time. Which was good. i loved being able to make you a send off breakfast even though you couldn’t eat it. Oh, and we talked about bacon. About how to cook bacon and why it was so short.
    kiss!
    me

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    • Stacy Bias

      heheh Don’t worry. Wasn’t and never was mad at you. We’re mule-headed, the women in my family. Nothing for it but to step aside. 😉 Thanks for being my morning memory! I remember the short bacon now. You cut it in half so it cooks faster, right? I love you!

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  2. Renee Bianchi

    You deserve every good thing. You really do.

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  3. June

    You’re missed, but I am soothed by the fact that you are flying back for my birthday and I have a place to stay when I come visit.

    Okay. Only one of those things is true.

    I love you.

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    • Stacy Bias

      I love you, too! And if flying wasn’t such a terrible ordeal for a fat girl (and if I had more money) I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to come back for your bday. <3

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