In this dream, I am flying to Australia--by way of Alaska--and many of my friends are involved. Cambridge friends are there, and non-Cambridge friends. The airports are also train stations, and we have to negotiate strange turnstiles and barriers. Layovers are peculiar. At one point, the plane itself seems to be driving us some distance down a road. When I wake, I remember joking with my seatmate during my first flight home from England, back in 1995, as our plane taxied for an unimaginably long time: "Perhaps we're driving to Newark?" All along in this strange train-plane flight-drive, I am trying to make my way back to the part of the plane reserved for people who want to sleep, rather than to rave all night. Eventually I make it--right about the time my alarm starts going off. In real life, that is.
When I am finally awake, I realize that today I should book a plane ticket home. And so, after lunch, I do it.
Fifteen minutes into the call, as I hold the line and try not to let myself be mesmerized by the strange computerized music loop to which I am repeatedly being subjected--because I feel certain that it's giving me some kind of message I should resist--I wonder just what kinds of calculations the head office is having to do. "Hello?" shouts the British phone agent after my second spell of holding. "Yes, I'm here," I say. "I'm just waiting for the office," he explains. Then he explains some more, or thinks he does: "So I'm waiting for them. And you're waiting for me." "Yes. That's fine," I reply. The computerized music loop begins again: dramatic tones build and build, a bassline kicks in, it suddenly goes quiet, it starts over. Drama: quiet: drama. I imagine their numbers going up and up: let's charge her £500! No, let's charge her £800! No, she'll owe us ONE THOUSAND POUNDS.
"Hello!" Paul the phone agent finally shouts. "All right! It's going to be £306.20." He pauses, as though I'm going to protest. I am relieved enough that I hand over my credit card number, which he has to ring through twice--once for the ticket, once for the ticket change penalty.
And then I am booked to return home, to my places and my people, in just over six weeks. And just as this place started to become real when I started to find out who would be here with me, it starts to become unreal as those people leave, one by one. I will be one of the last hold-outs.