I woke up this morning at Heathrow. Recall, I was just in Hong Kong. Like, 18 hours ago.
And I was in Los Angeles less than a week ago. And then in New York. And I’d just left London two weeks prior, only to return “home” to Mayfair this morning.
Home, they say, is where the heart is. And lately, my heart is in at least two places at any one time.
I was sitting in the Cathay Pacific lounge last night at the airport, looking a mess, having changed out of my suit at the airport, having left the Mandarin barefoot, having been yelled at in the polite way people at luxury hotels “yell” at little blonde guests and tell them politely, Madam you must wear shoes in the Captain’s Bar; you cannot walk barefoot in the lobby; Madam your car is here…
Shut up. I hate wearing shoes.
Quite coincidentally, I ran into the friend I occasionally see in airports. What luck! We’d seen each other at dinner with mutual friends when I was fresh off a 16hr flight on Tuesday night, and then we bumped into each other again at the airport in Hong Kong. At that point, I was in A State.
This further substantiated my theory that the poor fellow’s siren song was batshit crazy. In the second half of November alone, I had travelled from London to New York to Philadelphia; I had run a marathon; had travelled back to New York to Newark to Los Angeles to Yosemite to Los Angeles to New York to Hong Kong and then to London, all in the span of about two weeks.
You look tired, he said.
That’s not a very nice thing to say, I replied. But there wasn’t much more to it. I had barely slept in Hong Kong, and I was basically dysfunctional by the time I got on the plane.
But I arrived in London in marginally better shape because I’d slept.
I told someone I could tell time in celsius, I admitted to my assistant when I got into the office.
That sounds worrying. And a bit…Dr Who, she replied.
I think I was trying to explain that I could calculate the time differences between jurisdictions, and also do the temperature conversion. But I obviously got confused.
Time and space are confusing when you keep bending them, she replied.
Indeed they are.
When my friend and I were sitting in the airport in Hong Kong, he made a comment about it being hard to have a social life with my travel schedule. And I wasn’t sure whether he was commiserating with me, or whether he was passing judgment on me and I should reach across the table and throttle him (which, at that point, I had no energy left to seriously contemplate attempting.)
For the record, it’s hard. For the record, it takes a monstrous amount of effort, and a lot of text messaging, and seeing people when I am eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head jetlagged, and going to events and races and dinners even when I am exhausted and thinking about work that needs to be done, and wishing I could have slept more on the plane, or desperate to have bent time and space or played the time zones to my advantage better.
A backlog of this effort found me barefoot, in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, and head in hands in the Cathay Pacific lounge at the Hong Kong airport, not having conversations that probably should have been had.
And this leaves me wondering — what makes a place a home? Is it the people; the effort put into making a place a home; the tangible stuff; the landscape; the feeling you get when you arrive? Missing it when you leave? Some magical combination of all of those things?
So where am I?
Physically, I am in London. My heart, however, is torn. New York and I are like an old, married couple. We fight a lot. But I’m tired. I’m not getting what I need. The cancellation of the marathon broke my heart in a way that I can’t explain — I felt betrayed by New York; New Yorkers. Which sounds selfish and petty, and…frankly…stupid, even to me — and I’m the one who’s saying it.
At the end of my marriage, I looked at my husband, and I said Why can’t you just be nice to me?
And he didn’t know.
I feel that way about New York: Why can’t you just be nice to me?
If you have not been in a marriage that is (or should be) ending, you probably cannot relate to the crushing loneliness of the Capital-N-Not-Niceness. And if you have been, then you know exactly what I mean when I describe it.
New York is my home, and I love it, and have no intention of leaving any time soon. It is where my stuff is; it is where my dog is.
But my heart is in two places, and sometimes it is nicer to wake up at Heathrow.