Well, I'd shown up at Alain's flat a night earlier than he was expecting. And I didn't have the correct security code to open the gate to his complex when I arrived there at 11:30pm. But, apart from that, my final night in Europe was uneventful. It was quite surreal to step out the front door on the sunny Friday morning and set off, alone, for home.
I hadn't realized that I got on the wrong Underground line for the airport until an Indian woman approached me and asked if that's where I was going. I guess my giant backpack and roller suitcase gave me away. That's where she was was headed too. Turned out that two lines share a track and then diverge toward the end. A woman overheard us talking and volunteered the information we needed to switch. It was only one of many times on my trip that a person had gone out of her way to be helpful and kind.
Thankfully I didn't lose much time and arrived at the airport with what I thought was more than enough. It was more like JUST enough. Wow, I have never seen security like the security at Heathrow. I myself was searched twice; once at the security checkpoint and again at the gate. I boarded that plane with complete confidence that it was as secure as a plane could be.
I didn't even have an opportunity to get nervous about the flight, for I was intrigued by my seat companion from the moment I boarded. He was obviously African. Over the course of the flight I learned that he had the delightful and appropriate name of Ernest. He was flying from Kenya via London via LA to Portland, Oregon and on to the small city of Newberg to go to GEORGE FOX University. Yes, that's the small Christian school that Shaun's parents went to. Several of his family members have also attended there and worked there and continue to work there. Lest ye doubt that it is a small world after all; I assure you, it is.
He had never been to the US before, but he has two uncles in the Portland area. I had a lot of fun answering any questions he had, and explaining what some of the food was. I'm sure pizza will not remain unfamiliar for long. Both of our flights were delayed in LA, so we chatted for a while longer. It made me think fondly of my freshman year of college and how much fun I had and how excited I was for the future.
It was a long journey. Ten hours from London to LA, six hours in LA, two hours from LA to Boise. This left me good and ready to go to bed at the proper hour. Shaun and the boys flew in from his folks' house on the same night, so we all met up at the airport. And yes, I was the only one who cried.
So, I guess all that's left to say about my trip is, thanks, everybody. Thanks, Hillary, for one plane and two train tickets and the pleasure of your company. Thanks, Shaun, for using all your vacation days to send me on vacation. Thanks, in-laws, for making the week so special for the boys. And thanks, boys, for getting along so well without me that I don't have to rule out the possibility of ever doing something like this again.