London Heathrow. Met a couple of Australian dudes and it took me a minute to figure out they were speaking English. God help you if you're sensitive to fragrances over here. I think I'm the only person in this whole airport not wearing black. Or navy, to be fair. Anyone who thinks that the Native Americans are gone needs only to come to Europe and see what white people actually look like. The bathrooms are incredible. As if they were built yesterday. On the plane, seated next to me, a young man who was far too tall for his seat spooned muesli from a plastic bag. Later, he read a mass of photocopied pages from Antonio Barcelona's 'Clarifying and Applying Metaphor and Metonymy.' It was, as far as I could tell, a big heap of deconstructionist bullshit designed to keep Mr. Barcelona employed at a university. I'm not judging the book by its cover, but by a few photocopied inner pages. My apologies to Antonio.
The pilot came on and said that we were in a queue, and that there were five planes ahead of us, and that one took off every minute so that we were five minutes from take-off. On the inside of the young man's left wrist was written "Oxfam," in ballpoint pen. He scribbled "pilot" on his right hand, for no reason I could find on the photocopied pages.
As we rose over London, de-icer swirled on and poured from the wing outside my window, blue-green as a swimming pool. I wondered how much glycol rained on London and where, once a minute, all day. Throughout the flight, it glistened across the broad silver plain of the wing and pooled excitedly in any crevasse it could find.
Paul, the young man, was working on his PhD, something like "Hidden Implications in Political Speech." Metonymy, by the way is calling something by something else intimately related to the thing you're actually talking about, like "he has a good head for numbers" or "Washington vetoed Kyoto today." There's a more specific force at work in the city of Washington. It's so sneaky, we don't think about it much.
A sign read "toilet at rear." I like to think that, on British Airways, they knew what they were doing when they made that sign.
Paul had just returned from two weeks in Ghana. Vacation. He lives in Berlin, but had booked the return flight from Amsterdam. Paul said he had friends in Amsterdam, but they were all out of town and he had not contacted them until he'd landed in London this morning. "It's okay. I will get very stoned and then take the train back to Berlin. It's a good place to kill two hours."
Immigration was barely there. Everyone spoke perfect English. Security rode bikes. Outside baggage claim, a place called Juggle Juice had a "smoke cabin," a glass closet that fit about four people standing. A slight hint of reefer hit me. I didn't really expect it in the airport. American airports are basically military installations at this point.
At about this time, I realized that I'd drunk several glasses and bottles of water, two orange juices, two coffees and a tea and hadn't peed since 6pm last night. I tried. I really did, but I think all that moisture just humidified the cabin.
I tried to buy a train ticket. My credit cards didn't work. My ATM card didn't work. I changed 53 bucks to thirty-some Euro and spent about eight on a train to The Hague. I hope I have enough for the cab to my hosts house, cause it's too cold to walk. The snow is gorgeous, falling thick and even, brightening up this flat, wintry land. Everywhere looks great with a fresh snow.
Let's hope I don't have to busk for cab fare. At least I recognize the English language here. In Holland.
Hey! There's a trailer park. That makes a brother feel at home. Boy the snow is great. Even the trailer park looks cozy.