March 20, 2003

Once upon a time there was a boy whose parents said over dinner at Outback, "We were thinking of getting you a laptop for your graduation present."

To which he responded, "Wow, I kind of figured going to college was my graduation present, but hey, whatever you're into."

"But if you want to go on this London trip," they said, "then we'll pay for it, but that'll be your graduation present."

His head was filled with images of nice new laptops broken, stolen, or just plain forgotten somewhere, along with the realization that memories of venturing outside the country (which he'd never done, save for Canada, which barely counts) with some of your closest friends over Spring Break your Senior year can't be lost, broken, or stolen, barring the onset of amnesia or Alzheimer's.

And even then, he thought, you'll still have pictures.

This is his story.

Thought you'd never ask.

I actually packed the night before. I will let that stand as a testament to how excited I was to go on this trip, since I never, ever, pack the night before for any journey of any length. But for some reason, this was different. Maybe because there were certain things, that if I forgot them in a rush of morning-of get-to-the-airport fury, would prevent me from getting out of the US, or into the UK. And it's hard to go to England for Spring Break if they won't let you the hell in. So I packed the obscenely big monogrammed LL Bean duffel bag my grandparents got me for Christmas full of clean underwear and clean socks and...I did laundry for this trip too. I never do laundry and I never pack the night before, but I did both, and it was all for you, sweet sweet United Kingdom.

Matt's mom was nice enough to pick me up, since my parents were both at work. Then we went to the airport and met up with the London Posse, the principals being Alecia, Ashley, Kenzie, Katie, Jack, Tim, Tim's mom Penny, our sponsor Ms. Idler, and her husband Kurt. And Matt. It's not like his mom decided to drive just me to the airport. Tickets were distributed. Passports were put in their secret travel wallets and whipped back out again really for no reason, just to make us feel like purveyors of international intrigue. Purveyors of international intrigue with dorky bulky zipper-pouches hidden in our pants and under our shirts.

Matt was maybe a little too mysterious, so they searched his ass. Didn't find anything.

Oh yea. They searched his bag too.

We must've cut a comical figure, lounging in the international terminal, all the bourgeouis suburban kids with their headphones on. Tim loaned me Death Cab's You Can Play These Songs With Chords, which I have no good reason for not owning, and I in turn loaned him OK Computer, which no one has a good reason for not owning. Alecia read a book Tony Pierce recommended. I read a book the Ayn Rand Foundation recommended I read, then write an essay about by April 15th, if I want 10,000 dollars for college. I broke into my travel provisions: a bag of cheddar Goldfish, a box of strawberry Nutra-Grain bars, and the quinessential travel food, Twizzlers. I spilled half the Goldfish on the seat next to me, which was thankfully unoccupied. We sat and waited for the plane to Philly.

We all sat more or less together on the flight to Philly. I sat next to Ashley, which was nice, not only because she's pretty and sweet and smells good, but also because she's all of four feet tall and doesn't take up too much room when she sits next to you in coach. Too bad the same couldn't be said of the guy in the aisle seat, who was three-hundred pounds of mystery-novel-reading asleep-falling olditude. We made the best of it. She slept on my shoulder and I took pictures like this one.

At the gate we'd all talked big about how we weren't going to sleep on the four-or-so hour flight to Philly, because we'd need all that fatigue so we could pass out over the Atlantic Ocean on the big hop.

We're all talk.

Except me. I was too busy being way too excited about having a new camera, and taking gratuitous pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on the one occasion my tremendous need to pee coincided with the old guy on the aisle actually being awake. Then we landed.

The Philidelphia Airport was a lot like I expected. Big. Full of planes. In Philidelphia. The Roots are from Philly, as are The Starting Line, but apparently, neither of them hang out at the airport on a Friday night. Which is too bad. If I'd have seen either one I probably would have bought them a cheesesteak. But as it was, I didn't even buy myself one. We showed the lady at the gate our passports out of our secret travel wallets and boarded the plane that would take us to England.

to be continued...

Posted by DC at March 20, 2003 09:14 PM


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