I turned away from the United desk and began the journey up the escalator to the security checkpoint whilst carrying the incredibly heavy black bag, with the incredibly heavy purse now slung like a cross-body around my torso. My little toes screamed with every step and I silently screamed back.
"Just a bit longer," I told myself, "and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!" Of course, there were many more passengers waiting to go through security than there were security check points to deal with them efficiently. The line crawled along and I inched my way towards the scanners one painful step at a time. Who knew that my most comfortable sandals would turn into devices of torture simply because I'd been forced to carry an extra forty pounds or so?
Finally, I made it through security and retrieved my belongings from the conveyor belt before I scanned the signs overhead to see where my gate was. The sign read "Gates 1 to 2,034 to the Right."
I wanted to cry. My gate was literally the last one. The absolute furthest from where I now stood.
I longed to remove my shoes, but thought better of that - no telling what was embedded in the floors after millions of passengers had trod on them. I thought about having a drink, but didn't see any bars. Finally, I thought about the men who had comprised Wellington's armies and how far they'd been asked to walk on a daily basis. Surely 19th century boots had to have been more uncomfortable than my sandals after walking miles in them whilst carrying heavy packs on their backs, along with weapons and ammunition. And canteens. All whilst wearing red woolen coats. In the heat of the Peninsula. Or in India. At least at the end of my journey I'd be at the plane that would be flying me to England. A much better destination than a battle at Waterloo, surely.
"Just a bit longer," I told myself, "and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!"
The longer I walked, the more painful each step became. Before long, I was limping along like an old lady. A really old lady. And I still hadn't passed a single bar. Finally, I spotted a maintenance worker by a trash can and asked him, "Where's the nearest place I can get a drink?"
"A drink. Liquor. A cocktail. You know, a bar?"
"Oh, right. Well, there's an Irish pub down that way, right across the way from Gate 2,034."
Thinking that there may just be a God after all, I slowly completed the last painful mile that separated me from the nearest bottle of Bacardi.
Arriving at last at Mecca, I sat down at the bar and ordered a double rum and coke and a tall glass of water, which I finished half of in a few gulps as soon as it arrived. The water, not the rum and coke. Then I called Hubby to let him know I'd arrived in Newark and allowed him a couple of I told you so's in regards to my present problem regarding overweight luggage. When we'd hung up, I spotted a redhead climbing onto the stool beside mine. The bartender came over and she ordered herself a white wine. We both sat sipping at our drinks for a few minutes before she asked me if I were going to Dusseldorf.
"No. London," I said curtly, not being in the mood for casual chit chat. I picked up my glass of water and finished it off in another few gulps.
"You shouldn't drink water, you know. It'll poison you. Our kidneys can't process all the poisons in water. My kidneys haven't worked for fourteen years."
Oh, great. A health nut.
"I only drink wine. White wine. The red stuff has too many chemicals in it. It'll kill you."
"I always drink wine, whether I'm at home or traveling. I'm going to Dusseldorf for the weekend,"
Against my better judgement, I said, "You're flying all the way to Dusseldorf just for the weekend?"
"Yeah. I fly to Europe for the weekend once or twice a month. I've been everywhere. I've been doing it for years."
"How do you manage that, I mean with the dialysis and that."
"You said that your kidneys hadn't worked in fourteen years,"
"Oh, that. No, I'm not dialysis. I still have my kidneys, they just don't work. They haven't worked since I fell into a canal in Venice."
I finished off my rum and coke and ordered another.
"See, the water in the canals is filthy, just filthy. And when I fell in, I was attacked by this type of parasite that lives in the water there. The parasites invaded my body and attacked my organs and my kidneys and they shut down and haven't worked right since. Water will kill you, believe me."
Oh, great. Not a health nut. Just your average, garden variety nutter. No way was I going to ask her how she'd managed to fall into a canal in the first place.
"I believe you. That's why I only drink rum," I said instead as I slid my credit card across the bar towards the bartender. While I was waiting for my receipt, I fished around in my purse for my sleeping pills, shook a couple out into my hand and downed them with a swallow of rum and coke. I had an hour until my flight boarded and, with any luck, I'd be nice and drowsy by the time we lifted off.
Limping my way across to my departure gate I told myself, "Just a bit longer and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!"