Day 40 in the UK Brings Me Home

Lower red arrow shows where I stayed in "Staircase 14" - Amsterdam Quod. Other labels were added because I mentioned them in my posts.

Day 40 was 30 hours long.  At least it felt as if there had been 24 hours + the 6 hours time difference between Oklahoma and England.  And that’s putting things mildly.

On Sunday morning I left a city 75 minutes northeast of London and by Sunday evening landed on a very familiar Will Rogers World airport tarmac, right in the heart of Oklahoma.  The time in-between those two events is a bit of a blur.  Here are a few things I remember…

As I sit and write this entry my shoulders tell me this:

1) Suitcase = 61 pounds.  The service person at the desk “…let it slide.  After all, it’s not THAT much over 50 pounds.”  [Really? Cool!]

2) Laptop = 6 pounds.  I know.  Please, no lectures.  I realize there are sleaker models.

3) New bag = 7 pounds, crammed full.  If the top had included a magnet clasp, the prospect of carrying that much clutter scooped in the last minute from my dorm room vanity would have been dismal.  A zipper top is a thing of beauty.

4) Casebook, statues and handbook = 9 pounds, stacked neatly in a paper bag with handles.  In the morning the bag had gleamed in its spotless, wrinkle free state.  In the evening, the bag was hardly recognizable.  Smudges, rips, one handle barely fastened.  However, I got my books back.  Good thing – they were 300 dollars.  Young parents attending college must weigh this decision frequently: “Books? Or that child we wanted to have?”

Total poundage drug through three airports? 83 pounds.  Sometimes at a dead run.  Other times as a slow crawl.  Never gracefully.

And as I wrote those words, “dead run” another thing came to mind.  The magical beauty of an Express Connection bright orange sticker.

Like a Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka, only it's an Orange Ticket from American!

This little adhesive label allows the bearer to bypass thousands of people standing in line to get through customs and check-in counters because you happen to have been on a plane that arrived dangerously near the departure time of your connecting flight.  Amazing – – leave one plane, go through customs, retrieve 61 pound suitcase, re-check it into another counter, ride the train to a different terminal, run like anything (with no regard for how you look to others at this point), and get to the connecting flight with 11 minutes to spare.  Never mind that it needed repairs and didn’t leave for another hour or more.  The magic of the orange badge had already been experienced.

My very special library card

When I got home and started emptying 83 pounds onto the middle of the living room floor, a small white card fluttered down from my laptop bag and underneath the coffee table.  I stooped to pick it up, flipped it over, and saw that it was Brasenose College Library Card.

I’m not a big “souvenir” person.  I don’t appreciate clutter for all the nostalgia it might contain, and I don’t do scrapbooks.  For those of you who know Kelsey Sweger, she can attest to the fact that after a four-hour tutelage (and she IS a scrapbooking master), I have given up the notion of ever embracing the hobby.  As I instinctively raised my arm to toss it into the trash pile, however, I hesitated.

I couldn’t do it.  Maybe I’ll keep it.  I guess I can have two souvenirs…my handbag AND my Library Card.  And my memories. And this travel journal I’ve been keeping for 40 days.

Yep, that should do it.  I completed my 40th day by sitting in the living room, way past my bedtime, talking to my husband, daughters and their boyfriends.  I passed out travel gifts, listened to their stories about “how to jailbreak the iPhone 4,” what the girls did in Ecuador, and how Mick managed three yards at once while two sets of neighbors and I were gone.  It was a perfect finish to my 40th day.

But as I composed this post one day past day 40, I didn’t have closure.  One more thing needed to be done.

I lifted the top of my flatbed scanner, took the Library Card, and walked across my office floor.  I looked around and decided it needed to be protected.  Lifting the glass front to my antique 4-stack barrister shelves, I put it on the top row in the center, leaning against the back of the shelf.

I closed the lid and I was done.  Tomorrow I return to work with my handbag in tow.

My fingers found the light switch as I continued to study the placement of the card on the shelf.  “Well Done,” I thought to myself.  And I turned off the light.