I check the time on my phone: it’s 2am.
The phone is plugged into my computer, which is itself plugged into the wall. There is a big daisy-chain of gadgets soaking up as much energy as possible from the unfamiliar wall-sockets, each tethered to the other out of necessity, their individuality limited by the single UK-outlet adapter I brought with me on my jaunt to England.
I turn back to the window and gaze out at Tower Bridge. It’s beautifully lit by the already-rising sun peeking over the horizon just enough to make me wonder if my phone’s clock is accurate. As I measure the Bridge’s aesthetics with my eyes, I assess the situation with my brain.
It’s been a long day. Really long. My flight from London to Keplavik was cancelled because of an ash cloud sputtered into international airspace by an Icelandic volcano, but not before we passengers were told that it would be just fine, don’t worry, you’ll make it back as planned.
A string of disappointments led up to standing in a queue 100-people long, waiting for over an hour for some kind of shuttle that would be taking us who-knows-where so that we would vacate the airport for the night, allowing the security guards to go home without having to worry that we’ll spend our night stealing Toblerone from the duty-free store.
It was a full-sized bus that picked us up, and with hip-hop-trance music playing in the background, we watched and judged as the bus driver drove for what seemed like hours before pulling into an alleyway, turning around, and plunging forward into the darkness in the opposite direction, obviously uncertain as to where the address he had been given could be found.
At about 12:30am, we pulled into a small side-street just beside London’s famous Tower Bridge and started to unload, weary would-be flyers sleepily wobbling out of the club-music-infused bus out into the chilly, dark night. We were all a little concerned that they driver may have finally just given up and decided that this would be a good spot to dump the tourists with little chance of our bodies ever being found, but too tired to care about our potential impending doom.
Thankfully, that was not the case. Minutes after arriving, I found myself sitting at a table, eating a hastily prepared (but delicious) buffet dinner in a lovely (four star!) hotel. I gobbled the meal as quickly as I could and headed downstairs to use the archaic terminal that was the only Internet access point in the building before fumbling my way to the fourth floor, sliding my keycard into the door and nearly falling into an enormous (and incredibly comfortable) bed.
I stayed in bed less than a minute, however, as I knew the bus would be coming back to pick us up in just a few hours, and all of my methods of communication – my phone, my computer, my iPod – had run out of juice during the day, leaving me without access to the outside world. I began pulling cords out from tiny pockets in my bag and rigging up the most suitable solution I could come up with.
And now here I stand, electronics charging, clothing for the ride back to the airport (and hopefully, back to Iceland)Â laid out, and eyes drooping from the weight of the day and the expected burdens of the coming morning.
But the bridge is beautiful, so I stare out the window for a few more moments, committing the moment to memory and reminding myself that sometimes a single moment – just one mental snapshot of a second in time – can justify a day of exhaustion and mental anguish.