This morning I got up at 5:30, strangely without much effort. Alain was already awake and he was making breakfast. I decided to not throw away my broken suitcase, as I would be able to put all the things that I’ve bought in Scandinavia in it and I will use it in USA for keeping brochures, books, souvenirs etc.
Despite the luggage, this time I walk to the metro; there are a few stops as I need a little air. The journey to the United States is the focus of my trip, probably what I eagerly anticipate, more than the others; I’ll be on another continent. Here I had close friends on whom I can count on. I’m going on trust and belief that it will be the same in the U.S.A. But, if it is not, so?
The cold morning in London gives me the right oxygen, needed to ward off the anxiety of the flight. I check-in at 6:50 at the metro station and then advance to Heathrow Airport, thanks to the efficiency of the Tube System in London.
I doubt my plan, when I look up to the Piccadilly Line stops and I see three tube stations at Heathrow Airport and five Terminals. I check the ticket , just in case it was written on the booking sheet. Of course not!
I then ask a guy with a British Airways uniform which stop is for the United Airlines. He takes from his pocket an airlines reminder and he tells me that United Airlines is at Terminal 4, but I have to get off at the stop before because this train goes only to the first, second and third terminals.
Arriving in front of the United Airlines check-in, a security guard points out that while I have booked with the United Airline’s website, it is a flight that is CODE-SHARING with AIR CANADA, at terminal 3.
As I head to the new Terminal I think that in fact the Code Sharing, is what I did not notice. When I went to Spain I had booked with Iberia, but I’ve flown with Vueling. When I went to France, I booked with Air France, but I flew with Alitalia. The plane that goes to Toronto would have to ring an alarm bell with me. Fortunately the train between the various terminals is free.
I fill in the details at the “self-service check-in”, attach the coupon, drop the luggage on the conveyor belt and I see my suitcase disappear. Looking at it, it seems as if it said, “Do not worry, I’ll see you in Newark!”
I still have time and as usual, I go to the Duty Free Shop , where there’s a Chanel promotion; where I can try all the new face moisturizers. What better opportunity? As I smear the cream on, the girl lists all the benefits. I nod, and when the cream is well absorbed , I say “thank you” and I tell her that I think about it. Before leaving, however, to complete the flight in Chanel style, I spray on a few drops of Allure. Now I’m ready to fly!
I remember when I was in Paris , with my friend Fabien, we went to the Sephora store on the Champs Elysées and sprayed on our favorite perfumes, and headed out without buying anything. When we are out of the shop, my friend approached me smiling and saying in French, “C’est gentil Sephora!”
Before arriving at the gate, you have to go through customs, even before you have arrived, how absurd! I show my passport to the flight security guard, but he notices a difference between the photo and the person standing in front of him. So he ask me further questions, to be able to certainly establish my identity. Actually, the passport was issued in 2007 when I left for Canada and to be honest, in the picture I look like a gypsy.
However, I was a bit annoyed that he don’t recognize me and in a tone touchy, I show an identity card and say, “In that picture I was 20 years old and I’m now 26, do you think that there’s much difference since then? Do I look older?”
The poor Chinese man who asked me for the document, becomes red with shame and remains silent, then hands me the ID. He even apologised, for mis-pronouncing my surname, like most foreigners, so I correct him with a tone like Miss Rottemeier (the teacher in the Heidi novel), “the Ch in Italian is pronounced K, Chiarini, thank you!”
I take the document as a hurt lady , but then while walking to the gate I think of the poor man and it’s inevitable that I grin!
We wait until the arriving passengers get off the plane and I take this opportunity to get all the tabloids and newspapers that are available. There are all kinds. I take a gossip magazine, the Daily Mirror, the Herald Tribune, a travel magazine where I read among other things about the United States and on the front page: “Brooklyn, New York is not just Manhattan!”