After many last hugs and kisses I trail into the airport with my luggage and my laptop, but the flight is rather uneventful, though I get almost no work and almost no sleeping done. At Heathrow I wait for a coach which is late and driven by an apparently surly Scot who sees me waiting and explains, “It’ll take half an hour to get this lot unloaded!” Later I see it’s a façade when he adds as we leave the airport, “Why are you so quiet back there? Is my driving that good? Good God, I’ll have to get a licence!”
As soon as we cross the Cambridge city boundary it obligingly begins to rain for the first time. The coach drops me on Parker’s Piece where I stop to take the obligatory photo of myself next to Reality Checkpoint, and then phone Kirsten. She says Colin is out looking for me, but it happens that we somehow miss one another, so I tell them I’ll take a bus. I go to do so, and get lost, but the staff at the Maypole explain which bus to catch and wave away my offer of buying a drink to pay them back. You should therefore all go to drink at the Maypole.
The bus driver looks at my tenner and tells me it’s too old, and so is the fiver, and I can only change them at a bank. In the end, though, he turns out to be a member of the helpful species of bus driver and takes them anyway.
And so I was at Colin and Kirsten‘s house! They made me very welcome, and later we went to see Jon (source of the joke in the title here) and then they took me out for dinner at a tapas place, which was lovely, and then we talked until I was almost falling asleep, which was unsurprising.
The next day, I woke up far later than I’d intended: on balance, it was probably a really good thing to get over the jetlag. I went into town and met the Collaborans, who are a fascinating bunch with whom I can foresee a fair amount of beer being drunk, and then went to the town in which I grew up to meet my aged grandparents. I was going to see them next Sunday but then they decided to go out for lunch during the time I was going to see them, so I’m going tonight. On the way I passed the butterfly bush growing wild; I took some photos for Fin who loves them. They don’t grow wild in America.
I was expecting a great amount of reverse culture shock. Instead, there’s been almost none: I feel as though a badly-tuned channel had just snapped back into clarity. Without thinking, I am actually looking the correct way as I cross the road. I love all the little quirks I’d missed about this country, and this town. I love wandering around the town and hearing conversations about philosophy and conversations in languages I can’t even identify and people walking past in evening dress as though this was something not to be remarked on. For all its almost insufferable inequalities it’s a thing of great beauty. But much as I like it here, I miss my family back in Pennsylvania an awful lot, too. I’m phoning them every day and keeping up with all their news, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person all the time.
Oh, and I also passed the Chronophage, so I took a photo for Sabotabby’s benefit; it’s actually set into the street wall of the college, not inside as I’d imagined.