Monday, July 2, 2012

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

My alarm clock started blaring music at 4:00 am because I had inadvertently moved the little button from *just beep* to *beep and blare music loud enough to wake the dead*.  Lo and behold, it was still dark outside.  I haven't gotten up in the morning without light already streaming through the windows in weeks.  

Here in England you get slammed with sunlight during the summer months so that it's only dark outside for a total of about 7 hours.  Then in the winter we have the opposite problem, where it's only light for a total of about 7 hours.  I can honestly say I'll take the summer light over the days of darkness every time.  I've finally gotten to the point where I see light around 5:30 am and DON'T freak out, thinking I've overslept since it appears to be about 9:00 am already.

So I rolled out and shuffled down the hall to wake up the teen for an early morning run to Heathrow.  We had spent HOURS the day before working on packing her suitcase.  You would think it's pretty straightforward to pack when the Spanish language immersion program she's attending in Salamanca provides a list.  

Don't I wish.  The teen's good buddy upped the ante on packing when she announced to my daughter that she was only using that as a rough guideline and packing pretty much whatever she wants.  Bring on the packingpalooza.  Why take just four pair of shorts when she has eight really cute ones?  One can only hope she'll put this much thought and effort into improving her Spanish fluency.

So the teen's buddy shows up at our house at 5:15 and we all hop into our fave car service at 5:30 for a run to Terminal 5.  I don't mind driving to Terminal 4 because it's the closest one to our house.  But the rest of them require a whole lotta roundabout-ing that make my head spin and gets me all turned around in the traffic.  I just can't read the road signs that quickly.  Plus I couldn't afford to give us a huge window of opportunity to head off in the wrong direction and get lost before their 7:25 am takeoff.

We stood in line for check in and the teen's friend went first, tossed her big pink suitcase onto the belt and it snuck in at 22.7 kg.  Here in England, the max is 23.  Then it was the teen's turn and her monstrosity weighed in at 26.9.  The counter agent, trying to be helpful, suggested that we transfer things from the behemoth into her carry on bag.  Unfortunately, her Vera Bradley tote was stuffed to the gills with the things she couldn't squeeze into the suitcase.  Important things like those three extra pairs of shoes on top of the four that were absolute must-haves.  And the three bikinis since they're spending the final week on Spain's Costa del Sol.

Of course, the airlines continue to use those antiquated computer systems, where it appears they have to hit every key on the keyboard at least five times, super hard, just to get to the screen where I had to cough up an extra £40 for her obese suitcase.  While the businessmen behind us were sighing and checking their watches and tapping their toes for us to get the hell out of the way so they could get to the business lounge in time to send a few emails before their flights, the counter agent told us we would have to go over to another agent to have the fee processed since his screen was frozen.  Oh joy.

So we schlepped over to the other counter agent, also pecking away on her computer, who was able to get the fee processed before I had a meltdown right on the spot.  The little cut off times they conveniently print out on boarding passes make me nuts.  You must check your bags by this time and then clear security by this time in order to make the boarding cut off at such and such a time.  Must.hurry.up... so I can sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for the flight.  

I hugged the teen and then stood there wringing my hands while the teen's friend s-l-o-w-l-y put her little travel size liquids in a plastic baggie - like she couldn't have done that at home as I always do? - and then told them to hustle on through security so they could locate the gate.  And maybe I kinda yelled it at them, but not in a mean way.  Just in a get-a-move-on way.  Because you just know they were gonna make a pit stop for some overpriced frappuccino, latte, mocha concoction with cream on the top and lose track of time.  

I got a text from the teen that they had arrived safely at the University of Salamanca this afternoon.  She was busy unpacking her preggo suitcase in the converted 14th century monastery that serves as their dorm for the first three weeks of her language immersion program before moving on to the beach for the last week.  

It's my fervent hope that the teen takes advantage of this opportunity we're giving her to improve her verbal Spanish skills.  And you can bet your sweet patootie it dawned on me that I could have provided her with some real life Spanish language lessons on the south side of San Antonio working at some fast food joint.  Maybe we'll put that on the list of summer programs to consider for 2013.

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