After the 2010 fiasco, 2011 turned out much better. Mind you, once bitten, twice shy. On Thursday 23rd June, last year, a good friend drove me to Landvetta Airport. Once I was checked in, we took a coffee and a light breakfast, my head still buzzing with wild thoughts of possibly not getting to America. We had a good hour to waste, just chatting about life, about getting to America, about the year before, two strikes and out. In time we said our goodbyes; he wished me well and hoped he wouldn’t have to pick me up the following day. I watched him leave, the lump that had rested like a golf ball in my throat since climbing out of bed that morning, now falling like a chunk of lead to my stomach. I really wanted to savor the moment, to enjoy every moment of the journey ahead of me. I couldn’t though, not really.
I waited for my flight to Arlanda, Stockholm, paced slowly up and down until boarding time arrived. The idea of flight fascinates me, so much weight, lifting into the air with ease is quite incredible. It took no more than forty-five minutes across the country from west to east. Once off the plane, I headed for the nearest coffee bar; seated myself in exactly the same chair as I had done just one year ago. The coffee smelled divine, an intoxicating aroma lifting to tantalize my taste buds. People passed by, a seemingly endless stream of various nationalities and briefcases, suitcases, backpacks with little flags of the countries visited, stitched on them. I saw an American flag and wondered if God was having a little fun with me. It wouldn’t be the first time. I had a three hour flight ahead of me, a flight I had also made just one year ago. That’s where my American dream ended, I prayed so hard, this year wouldn’t be the same.
Coffee gone, I headed for the departure lounge, a lounge that dwarfed the lounge back at Landvetta. I took a look around, contemplated buying something and then gave up on the idea. Just as I was finding myself a place to rest, I inadvertently bumped into a man. He looked at me and I looked at him. It was a face I recognized. During my early teens, I had gone through a punk rock faze, just one of the many fazes I went through. The man smiled and I found myself saying, “Alright, John! No worries; mate.” John Lydon, aka, Johnny Rotten of the infamous, Sex Pistols had been one of my heroes in years gone by. We seated ourselves and chatted away a good thirty minutes. I told him I was an author and was heading west. He was heading east, was going to do a benefit gig in St. Petersburg, Russia.
An hour later, I was sitting on a plane to Keflavik, International Airport. I had made it this far back in 2010, so I wasn’t too concerned. For the first time since waking up that morning, I found I was able to relax. I had a window seat and a great view of the world beyond my little circular window. Flying over Iceland was truly amazing, glaciers and mountains rising up out of the ocean. Keflavik on the other hand, is flat. It felt like I was landing on the moon, a lunar landscape spreading out before me. The airport was packed, a single, seething mass of humanity, all hustling and bustling, all eager to get somewhere. I couldn’t help but wonder where. I booked in and then headed for the departure lounge. I had made it this far before, although not further. I tapped my passport firmly against the palm of my left hand, studied the little chip, embedded into its front cover. In some obscure way, I felt like a criminal, felt watched; could feel beads of cold sweat on my brow. Would this passport take me to America, surely it would! Like I have already said, once bitten, twice shy.
Continuation yet to come … Gavin