There weren’t too many people waiting for their luggage. I guess a bunch of folks found their way through passport control before I did. Everyone’s bag looked the same. My clothes clung to me as clothes do when you’ve been wearing them for too long and flown across an ocean and haven’t showered.
I’m very self-aware in baggage halls. My body and being feel as though they are imposters, abandoned far from comfort and safety; displaced. I sense how once comfortable and loose clothing sticks to me, clinging to my skin in an embrace forced by long hours on the stiff seat of a 747. My eyes are dry, and I want to bury my fists in them, to rub out a day or two’s worth of sleeplessness. I will my bag to appear to no avail. Parents herd their children, dragging them away when they get too close to the conveyer belt. A man in a suit wearing a rucksack looks even stranger than I feel. Who wears a suit on a flight from Miami? Who wears a suit with a satchel-like rucksack? I thought the dude in the cravat was bad. Yeah, there was a guy in a cravat and seersucker, and he looked pretty ridiculous. Do I look normal? Shirt and jeans? I have no idea. I don't feel normal. There is a garbled announcement, something about our flight and our luggage. There is almost no one left now. My heart sinks a bit, and I watch as one of the families makes their way towards the help desk, and then another. There’s a couple there too, who look quite stylish and European. Anonymously olive-skinned and in no way like they’ve just been on an airplane for 8 hours. He’s in a black shirt and black jeans, whilst she could be a stand-in for Isabella Rosallini. They fill in their form and I’m next. I fill it out. I don’t bother asking what happened or where they think the bag might be. I’m tired and resigned to treating myself to a cab home. The guy assures me it’s usually never more than 24 hours. I thank him and head out through the “Nothing to Declare” queue. They’re searching someone. I’ve just got my carry on and wander out.
The cash machine offered the following: £300, £400, £500, £800, or £1000. I laughed and keyed in £40 and walked out into the cold and the wind. I fumbled to get my jacket on and when it was I was not much warmer. The taxis were close, though. My driver was nice. He asked me whether he should go out for dinner with his family for New Year’s Eve, or to his mate’s birthday party. I told him I was a bad person to ask, because I’d just had a week with my family, and had had my fill. He should go to his mate’s birthday party. He laughed at that and then we were quiet for the rest of the drive. There was no traffic, and in short order I was home. With no unpacking to do, I ordered some lunch to be delivered, took my meds, and cuddled the cat, who was very happy to see me. After lunch I searched for a toothbrush and toothpaste, mine being in the lost luggage, brushed my teeth, and went upstairs for a nap. A quick replay of the morning played out before I fell asleep, ending with the cab ride home. I thought again about the driver’s dilemma. I hope he went to dinner with his family anyway.