We lost a day somewhere over the Atlantic, and time lost meaning.
It was nearly 24 hours from leaving our house in Modesto, BARTing from Hayward to SFO, running from one terminal to another, flying to Seattle, flying to Rekyjavik, flying to London, taking the train to Paddington Station, and dragging our luggage to our hotel a few blocks away. Within two minutes, we’d collapsed into bed.
“Remember we can’t sleep that long, or we’ll be a mess tonight,” Will said. Or maybe I dreamed it, because I was already asleep.
Will at Paddington Station.
“We’ve upgraded you to a family room,” the receptionist at the hotel said, handing over a key. There was a life-sized cutout of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle next to the counter.
The family room was down a hallway and a steep flight of stairs, tucked into a forgotten corner of the hotel. We opened the door to a room crammed with beds—apparently designed for six family members who like to be all up in each other’s business. The twin beds were perfect for holding an open suitcase, though, and the slightly-smaller-than-double beds were perfect for one each.
This was no time for romance.
Night’s agenda: food (Italian, seasoned with incredible hunger), wine, a walk through some charming neighborhoods, a stroll through Hyde Park. Back at the hotel, we turned on the television, having been alerted by my father that a hotel in London was burning (but not, apparently, ours).
“I’m going to watch for at least an hour,” I said from my less-than-double bed. “I don’t want to wake up at four a.m.”
That was the last thing I remembered before falling asleep.
In Hyde Park (with a serious lack of sleep happening).
Sometimes travel makes me sad.
While Will showered, I sat in Norfolk Square with my stomach rumbling, last night’s early dinner disappeared like a mirage. It was a tiny rectangular park, running the length of a street lined with hotels. Ours, the Cardiff Hotel, was behind me. Paddington Station was close by, a five-minute walk.
At first, it was just me and some pigeons, and then a very determined man with a leaf blower began to remove some of the park’s natural charm, and some workers gathered to smoke and rib each other over what I can only assume was a football match.
No, the sad part of traveling for me is realizing that these moments, ordinary or extraordinary—are fleeting. This moment will not exist again—or anyway, not with me in it. Soon, my husband, freshly showered, will come around the corner, reading to head to breakfast. Then I will return to my room, repack my toiletries and zip my bag and walk the five minutes to Paddington Station for a train to Wales, and this moment will exist only here, only now.
Paula Treick DeBoard