I had to go to England to visit Joan. I couldn’t lie. And nothing had popped up to save me from spending two weeks with a virtual stranger from the past. To cinch the deal, Donna would be picking me up at Manchester Airport on her way up from Surrey to join Joan and me for a couple of days in Morland, a two-hour drive away. Joan and Donna had already visited each other several times, over the past year or so; they’d broken the ice, reconnected, had tea together, caught up. Gulp. I would be the new kid . . . well, not quite, but you know what I mean.
Right up until the day before I left, I was frantically trying to finish up a whole month’s worth of daily blogging (an A to Z Blogging Challenge I’d taken on for the month of April, which I would be posting during my two weeks with Joan. Yes, I know some kind of unconscious need to distance myself from what was to come?). I finally gave up with three blogs left to write.
I only bought a trench coat, a pair of black thermal leggings, and two sweaters—or as we used to say, jerseys—in concession to the cold weather I would be encountering; I’d be going from between 60 and 70 degrees to around 40. And rain. Lots of it. Joan said to pack light; she had plenty of warm clothes. Would we be the same size? Were we before? The photo I posted yesterday looks like it. Why can’t I remember? It was hard to tell from her current photos if she’d changed. To tell the truth, she’d grown better looking, I couldn’t really tell her size. And Donna, all I had seen of her was a Facebook headshot of her and her husband, Ian. She did not look familiar at all. A quick aside here. I asked Joan if I should bring something dressy, because I didn’t “do” high heels, anymore. No, we’d manage, she said, but why on earth did I not wear high heels? Oh, oh.
With a feeling of inevitability along with my usual fear that I’d forgotten something, like my passport, which I’d done a couple of times before on other trips abroad, I boarded the plane wearing my thermal leggings and carrying my trench coat. I’d only managed a scant four hours of sleep. Nine hours later after a five hour layover in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, there was a problem with the plane. It would take another six hours and a plane change before we would be ready to leave for Manchester. Panic. I had no way of letting Joan and Donna know my plane had been delayed. Yes, in my reluctance to commit to the trip, I hadn’t bothered to get telephone numbers. All I had were their email addresses, but there was a problem with my email account and I couldn’t send notification of my dilemma. I knew it. I should’ve lied. I should’ve cancelled. The trip was jinxed.