1. Why is United giving us sporks? Sporks are not good for eating yogurt nor spreading jam on a croissant. I hold up the spork to show to the person in the next seat. “I know”, she says, but it comes out as an acknowledging “I knooooooww” in that drawn out British way. She’s Brazilian-born but grew up in London and speaks like a proper Brit. She’s just been visiting her brother in the Mission and her sister in Palo Alto. We commiserate about the weather.
2. A pub called the Jolly Cricketers in a quaint English town outside London. My uncle takes me out to traditional English pub for lunch but we both order thoroughly untraditional lamb and feta burgers which are delicious. We’re joined by my uncle’s old friend Tom; he does not order a lamb burger. I also down two pints of hand-pumped and only moderately below room temperature ale. They’re good, especially one called Rebellion. Looking back one could ascribe some significance to this trip according to the name of that beer, but really I had just tried Tom’s and liked it.
3. Row fifty two on an Air Bus 340-200 at about four in the morning. The lights are out. I’ve woken up for some reason. My shoulders shudder and my eyes stream messily into my eye cover. Part of it is doubts about coming to SA and part of it is doubts about leaving what I had. But the small hours are not a time when one can tell which are unfounded and which are not.
4. Passport control. The passport agent says “good morning” and that’s about it. Stamp! stamp!, in that nice rhythm that they do–and I’m through. If she’d been thinking about the book I would write about my experience, perhaps she could have said something with greater significance like “Welcome home” as she handed me back my passport. But she didn’t. It’s yet to be seen whether her omission is prescient or not.