Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Epic Journey There and Back Again

I'm bad with travelogues because I'm never sure where the line is between a "good" or "entertaining" story and a "bad" or "boring" story. I also prefer to give you, readers dear, just glimmers of my time in England - because then I've built myself an aura.
I've raised a monument to myself that's not built by human hands...
Such is my egotism.

Kipling dropped me off at the rail station at 21:30, and I got back to London after midnight, my original plan being to stay up at Liverpool St Station until the first express out to the airport. Joke's on me - English train stations are open all night, but they're not heated. I sat in McDonalds with a group of Spanish college students and hobo Johns.

My flight was scheduled for 7:25. At 7:20 the attendant came on the intercom to say it was 20 minutes delayed; 15 minutes later, to announce that it was canceled and - here's the kicker - had never left Dusseldorf.

Reactions to a flight cancellation are similar to the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I fast-tracked to acceptance pretty quickly, but it was fantastic to watch the British businesspeople scramble to figure out if they could make the meeting (which was presumably their sole reason for going to Germany for the day).

Eventually I got rerouted through Germany and Austria [four countries in one day!] and got in to Moscow after midnight. Taxi back to my place by 2. And here comes the kicker: the ground floor of my building was black. Everything was dark. Locked. No watchman for anyone to watch.

Two major world capitals, two consecutives nights, and I am homeless. Homeless and nocturnal.

I walked the two miles to a twenty-four diner (Leninsky Prospekt is much longer when no one is around; much darker when all of my worldly possessions are a single successful mugging away from absolute loss) and ordered a milkshake. "That's all for now," I told the waitress, "but don't take the menu away, please."

I sat up all night and finished The Fountainhead. I wonder what I looked like to everyone around. I write in the margins of books, so maybe it looked like I was some crazy college kid who was pulling an all-nighter...the waitress would have heard the American accent, but I can pass reasonably well as "Russian" in physical form.

The mullet and the argyle sweater help.

I decided I'm getting too old to fail to take care of myself by doing things like planning for a place to sleep. But I'm getting too old - I'm not too old quite yet. So it's good that I had the experience. Well.


P said...

Lose the mullet. What happened with your building?

Andrew said...

For whatever reason they shut it nightly, while the metro's closed. I guess I'd never gotten back so late before...