The empty Reykjavik airport is unlike any other I’ve seen. It’s got solid hardwood floors end-to-end and no stores except the occasionally open ‘Euroclub’ cafeteria with the Nespresso machine, yogurt and meat sandwiches.
Emma and I got yogurt and coffee, Lily bought a gross shrimp salad. The mayo jiggled under the pink translucent tubes of sea-meat on white bread. She won’t eat it. ($12)
We have all day here and sleep on the benches. Yes there are easier ways to get to London than spending an additional 12 hours in Rekyjavik, but the payoff comes later when we spend a week in Iceland on the way back.
Today however, it is costing us dearly. The woman at the counter tells us that Delta and WOW could not get our bags transferred in the empty airport and that we could stay overnight or have them shipped to us in London in the morning.
C’mon! I want to scream. But it would be pointless. Actually they are being helpful, more or less, and the plane is waiting for us to depart. The kids and I have dealt with this before. We carry a lot on board with us in case this happens.
Emma confidently tells me that she is going to need more pads when we touch down. She’s amazing. And I love that she can tell me without any embarrassment. At Gatwick outside passport control, Lily exclaims, “I’m so glad that they finally speak English on one of our trips, but they still use different words. Like ‘lift is Elevator and ‘Chips’ are French Fries and ‘Boots’ means CVS!”
We grab pads, toothbrush and some deodorant at boots, some food from Marks and Spencer and hop in a taxi to our hotel, which is a surprisingly decent Holiday Inn Express in Shoreditch that is almost $200 a night. London is fucking expensive.
Lily and Emma sleep late, and I head off to work. They have to hang in the room in case the luggage comes, but also because I can’t entertain them while working. For the next two weeks, Holli our regular driver/babysitter will be here to get them around London while I work. At mid-day they buy fish and chips next door.
Racing back to the hotel after a long work day, I tell the kids to stuff the rest of their cold lunch in their mouths. We have to get to the West End for les Misearables.
Les Miserables is a musical Emma fell in love with after seeing the movie this winter, just a few weeks after the memorial service in November. I couldn’t go with them. It was too soon to watch such a moving story, and Les Mis was one of Trish’s favorites.
We hop on the wrong bus and end up in North London, which makes us miss the first few minutes of the show. It’s the kind of mistake that I might not have made with Trish around. I’ve always done most of the planning and execution as we traveled the globe, but she was a capable and helpful partner that smoothed out the rough edges of my sometimes frantic itineraries.
I miss her. We all do. It was 11 months ago that I told them their mom would die of cancer. At the most vulnerable moment of her life, Emma’s asked that night ‘Will we still go on trips?” affirming everything Trish ever stood for in one innocent question.
This is our first big trip without her, and it’s noticeable every moment. Home now feels pretty safe, but travel is still new enough to generate that feeling that she is missing. She belongs in the taxi, the plane and the hotel room with us. In the airports, I realized after a while that I had been scouting seats for four, when we only need three now.
Our three seats at Les Mis are amazing, front row center balcony. This is my third time seeing the show and I confess I love this musical. I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, honestly, despite growing up with them in school and 80’s Broadway. The themes of mercy, sacrifice and freedom get me in between the gaps in my snarky armor.
I pretty much sob throughout the performance. In 1996, I took Trish to see it on Broadway as my first Christmas gift to her. It was a splurge and we still had terrible seats, but she loved it and sang the music through the apartment for a month. I talk about it a little with the kids and they get that unsettled look when I’m grieving. I’m their rock, and it’s a little hard to see me in grief. But it’s real. What can I do?
Just a few weeks ago, I found the double CD I had given her along with the tickets, and she had kept the card I wrote her inside that said ‘I love you’ It would have been one of the earliest times I wrote that to her.
In the last scene, the ghosts of the two major female parts, Eponine and Fantine, sing “To love another person is to see the face of God.” It’s the last line of the musical but for the final chorus. I always feel lucky for the love I had for her.
Afterward, we walk toward Piccadilly Circus and head back, this time by reliable tube, to Old Street. We eat an unhealthy late dinner of pizza, french fries and a felafel and go to sleep watching Doctor Who. Ah England…