It’s Monday, and here we are in London.
Whose bright idea was it to take an overnight flight, anyway? What idiot thought we could sleep on the plane? In COACH no less? By the way, in case anyone is curious, those seats in coach in even the largest of airplanes are meant for people who are smaller than I am. A five year old might be able to sleep in them. When Jack was 10 we flew to Ireland in the back of a plane. I suppose five years is enough to make the memory fade. I do recall that after that trip I swore I’d never again fly across any body of water wider than the Mississippi River in steerage class. Like labor pains though, the memory must have faded. When business class seats weren’t available, I didn’t postpone the trip until summer. No, I bravely (read: foolishly) decided that the agony of sleeping sitting up wasn’t all that bad and we could fly in the main cabin of the plane.
On the trip to and from Ireland in 2002, my ten year old son slept in my lap for the most part. He sprawled across his seat and my own. No, I did not get a wink of sleep heading either direction. But at 15 Jack was unlikely to want to cuddle with Mommy on a long flight, so I figured the comfort level would be better. For someone with an IQ as high as the experts claim mine is, sometimes I can be downright DUMB.
Jack folded his long, skinny 15-year-old body in half and put his head down on the tray table and slept for about four hours. Jealously, covetously, I glared at him the entire time. What evil gods have played such a trick on me that I am not only wider but rounder than I used to be? I’m not that big, really. I’m downright short, when it comes to that. But the circumference thing (not to mention the fact that I’m old and I just don’t bend that way any more) made it impossible for me to mimic the origami of my son’s body. I leaned my seat back as far as it would go. I dozed. I awoke within 15 minutes, my head lolling steeply to one side and the muscles in my neck screaming for relief. In the interest of keeping with the laws of physics, I allowed my head to loll steeply to the other side. Equal and opposite reactions should have nullified the screaming muscles, right? Wrong. It meant that he muscles on the other side of my neck kicked up a major ruckus within the next 15 minutes.
This went on for a couple of hours as my resentment escalated toward my peacefully sleeping offspring in the next seat. Then I gave up and watched Walk the Line. I listened to my iPod. I tracked the plane’s progress across the Atlantic. I watched Dreamgirls. I finished my book. I wrote in my journal. I listened to the man seated next to me snored. I wished someone tall, dark, handsome, and accommodating was sitting next to me so I could put my head on his shoulder and sleep. Yes, I was fantasizing.
We arrived Saturday morning and fell gratefully into our beds in our hotel room by noon. I slept a couple of hours then started trying to wake Jack. I thought we could go to Piccadilly and wander around. Jack loves Times Square in NYC, so I thought he’d feel comfortable there for his first night in port.
I couldn’t wake him. This child of mine, who selfishly slept most of the way across The Pond, refused to rouse himself no matter how I begged, pleaded, threatened, or bribed him. “Can’t we just get room service, Mom?” I’m so glad we traveled 4500 miles to eat in bed.
So Sunday dawned early. The UK went on Summer Time (The equivalent of Daylight Savings) while we slept, so we were an hour late getting started. We made our way to Victoria Station where we met our bus tour and climbed aboard the double decker. Two stops later was the Hard Rock Cafe, so we were forced to disembark.
I guess I should explain that compulsion. You see, Jack has an uncle who lives in Southeast Asia. Ever since Jack was a very little guy, his uncle Matt has made sure Jack has Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts from every place Matt’s been. Jakarta, Taipei, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok… the list goes on. It also means that now Jack has to hit the Hard Rock whenever we travel. It’s a requirement. We might as well set it early in the itinerary because if we don’t Jack will agitate about it until we get there. Even if we go to Memphis, which is just two hours away from home, we can’t leave without stopping by the Hard Rock on Beale Street. London was the site of the original Hard Rock Cafe, so we make sure to see the guitars Eric Clapton and Roger Daltry donated to start the collection. It feels like a pilgrimage every time we go to one of these restaurants, but this one, the original one, felt like arriving in Mecca itself.
So we ate and bought a couple of t-shirts and a pin then climbed back aboard the tour bus to see the rest of the main sights without debarking. “We’ll come back and see the real sights tomorrow,” we agreed. Upon arriving back at the hotel after the day on the bus, we both took a nap. A couple of hours later I was once again trying to rouse my son and failing miserably. Finally I gave up. I played online and even managed to visit the 360 pages of a few friends. At midnight Jack woke up and was ready to go. I laughed at him. “Go to sleep,” I said. He did. Can any creature sleep more than a teenage boy?
Now Day Three of our trip has unfolded as the day in which Murphy’s Law has reared its ugly Irish mug and interfered with us. I woke with a migraine and had to take a shot of Imitrex to banish it. I also had to nap a bit after taking the shot to make sure it worked. I wasn’t able to go anywhere until I did. What did Jack do while I was recovering?
At noon I roused him and we headed to the Tower of London. It’s the one place Jack knows he wants to see other than the British Museum. While we waited for the bus, we went into a Starbuck’s near St. Paul’s Cathedral to get nourishment. Outside again at the bus stop Jack looked at me strangely. “Mom, I don’t feel so good,” he said.
He sat on the sidewalk against a wall. His face was a ghastly white and dark circles appeared under his eyes.
“I’m going to get sick,” he said.
Hoping his nausea would pass with a little nourishment, I encouraged him to eat the cinnamon roll and drink the white mocha he got at Starbuck’s. We boarded the bus headed for the Tower and had a wonderful conversation with a gentleman Londoner about politics, imperialist world dominion (both British and American), terrorism, and tourism, then received an admonishment not to miss the Crown Jewels at the Tower. I love talking with natives!
Once off the bus, Jack’s nausea had not dissipated. He threw away what remained of his coffee. We found a bottle of water and a quiet corner where we sat for about an hour hoping the nausea would pass. He finally asked if we could please get a cab back to the hotel. I felt terrible for him. As often as I get migraines, I know what it’s like to have wonderfully exciting plans interrupted by headaches and nausea. What was touchingly sweet was how he kept apologizing for feeling bad. I do the same thing whenever my migraines interfere with plans I have with someone, so I know where he got the notion that he had to. He didn’t have to apologize to me, though. If anyone can empathize with how powerless he felt over his traitorous body his mother can.
Thankfully we found a cab very quickly and are at this moment back in our hotel room where Jack is (guess what) sleeping peacefully. If he feels better later we’ll try for Piccadilly Circus again. For now, I’ll just watch him sleep. I won’t try to rouse him. Not yet, anyway.
There’s a Virgin Megastore at Piccadilly. Evidently I’m not the only one in the world who sells Virgins. I can’t wait to see the selection! I hope it’s better than the one I went to in Orlando a couple of years ago. Despite the name, all that Virgin Megastore had to offer were books and music. What a disappointing bait and switch operation!
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