I wake up as the pilot announces 30 minutes until arrival.
This leaves me no time to a) freshen my make-up or b) brush my teeth, which I always do with about 45 minutes left in any flight. I am a creature of habit. But the last 12 weeks of my life have been anything but usual, and I have been living on nerves and feelings — raw nerves as Frederic would have said — so I let it go.
Then we land.
I breeze through passport control and am off to the hotel, where I check-in. I cannot brush off the eager host; I cannot decline his plea of: Miss Meredith, please allow me to complete the registration process with you in the room — the room is ready.
So few things are ever ready for me when I am ready for them. I am a sucker for preparation.
Then am off to meet my BFF for dinner. I am approximately five minutes behind schedule, and I choose brushing my teeth over putting on make-up.
(If I have been blessed with anything, it is the ability to look like a human after a long-haul flight.)
I meet C, and we laugh and gab and gobble Shanghainese food. Until she is called on to a conference call at the table, which grates. I should clarify — I am not mad at her — quite the opposite. I am angry at the circumstances; I am angry about things that have nothing to do with phone calls. It has not occurred to me until that very moment, as I burn my mouth on another soup dumpling, how very angry I am.
This is life. Life is love, and food, and anger. Life is for living. And for patching the holes in our hearts with the changes we think make the most sense.
Which reminds me of that one Beatles song — the one about fixing a hole.
(We are all sort-of full of holes, you know.)
So her call ends, and we resume our eating and chatting, and laughing. And it isn’t until nearly two hours into dinner that we even begin to reminisce. The memories are a comfort. But the forward-looking-ness of the dinner is comfortable too. Change is coming.
Which is where we end our meal — on a note of impending change. And with that, we leave the restaurant, and my BFF and I part ways in the slightly sticky Hong Kong night.
The weather is so nice! I exclaim.
It’s so humid! she retorts.
It has been a long season in Manhattan. The temperature has hovered around freezing. The weather has been chilly and ordinary — all raw nerves and feelings. The tropical warmth on my skin feels like the most luxurious thing that has ever happened to me. It feels like I have been talking about the heat, and thinking about warm places, and reminding myself that they actually exist just to survive another New York winter.
In this moment, I am Margot on Mars, released from the cupboard.
So we part ways, and I return to my hotel room and settle into a night of work that leaves me more overwhelmed than even I imagined.
It leaves me breathless, until the New York day ends, and the London midnight approaches, and the Wednesday dawn breaks over Hong Kong, and I finally settle in to snooze for a few hours before beginning it all again.