I confess to a certain unease about flying – I never quite know how and why the plane manges to get off the ground – and this particular plane did seem to be oddly noisy! It doesn’t help sitting over the wing where if you look closely things do wobble a bit. However, American Airlines coped with this particular passenger and my small anxieties on my part are embraced with good humour.
The preparation for the departure are helped by:
a. smooth packing of the case. Everything goes in that came out and I can zip it up!
b.the wonderful Lesley Markham kindly dropping me off at Ronald Regan Airport – whcih is a short 20minute drive.
Both of these factors ease the departure from Washington and my onward adventures.
Airports are odd places – they seem to exist to persuade people to spend money and eat. I resist the former but have a slice of pepperoni pizza and diet coke (small – everyone goes for the super extra large). I love the moment when a crowd tries to anticipate when the call for passengers is made. Is there a prize for the first on I wonder? Then there is the scramble when even the most orderly queue is sent into chaos by those who believe no one will mind if they squeeze in there – if looks could kill there would be a few corpses in Gate 34 of Regan Airport.
I immerse myself in a book (more of that when I finish it) and wait – and my seat (12A) is there waiting for me. Someone is sitting in 12B. I ask politely to get in . A grumpy (I can’t publish the word I want to use) man gets more cheerful when he realizes that I am English. I am entertained by a rant about how his country is going to the dogs. He is despairing of the possibility of a woman becoming the President (Hillary Clinton) and doesn’t understand why she didnt throw Bill out. I wonder if he would be happier living in Knowle? I begin to get very worried about this – it is a two hour flight and I want to read my book – when (the Lord is good) – he asks me what I do. I tell him – ‘I am a priest’ and that does it – he ignores me for the rest of the journey. I knew that telling people what I did would come in handy one day.
The landing is good – ish (I had my eyes closed) and the suitcase is delivered with amazing speed. A friend, Sam Portaro, the now retired Episcopal Chaplain of the University of Chicago, is on hand to pick me up. He kindly takes me on a detour and we ride through the city to Brent House – my home for the next month. A smaller room but very comfortable in the University district. There are a number of second hand bookshops which need my presence……. so some fresh air…… Here is a picture of Brent House –