After having just read Everything is Illuminated, the novel from which one of my favorite movies originated, I have a compelling urge to give a really long and obscure title of a search to my first real post while traveling, but I’ll restrain. It really all just started with taking off… in every way: off the ground, off work, off school, off the structure from which my life has built a security rope, keeping me tethered to reality as I know it.

We took off from the St. Louis airport with a few hitches. The left side of my face was swollen up around my eye, not quite as big as a softball, but close. Maybe more like a ping-pong ball, but when your own face is disfigured, you notice. The swelling wasn’t nearly as bad as when I had a bad reaction to poison ivy years ago and could almost be recognized as non-alien with both my eyes swollen shut. No, this was a bad reaction to who-knows-what that started a couple of days before the trip, leaving me swollen and covered in a spreading rash, despite a last minute steroid shot in the rear the day before hopping on the plane. I assumed security would be a drag looking a bit like a druggy-gone-wrong, but I was mistaken. It was just a hat kind of day for a couple of days in London.

My mom and I were in the last group to board, and by the time we got to the front of the plane I heard whispers that they were out of room for luggage. As the fullness of the under-supplied storage was obviously the fault of the remaining passengers who had yet to board, the flight attendants turned sour, nitpicking whether a little old lady should be allowed on with two tiny bags attached by a handle since the small carry-on officially, they pointed out, was two separate bags. By the time we got to the front of the line to be scrutinized, we were just told there was no room and our bags had to be checked. When we mentioned that we were told to keep our bags since we had a short connection to catch an international flight, they could have cared less. So we snuck our bags to our seats before a lady came to berate us a bit, telling us we should have boarded early (prior to when our section was called?) if we needed our carry-on bags to be carry-ons, then finally relenting and stowing one of our bags up front. Pissing off the flight attendants was not on my itinerary, but they were just set on being angry with us, and I was not about to miss my flight to London.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, besides pleasant talk shows about types of bombs that have been used for terrorism being streamed over the intercom at the airport in Minneapolis and hold-on-tight-cause-it-will-do-you-any-good turbulence over the ocean. London was bustling and I was beaming. I was back in the city I fell in love with in January, and this time, I had a functional camera.