On 19 June, I headed to JFK International Airport. The night before we’d gotten an email from Delta – the airline we were flying – that due to weather when we were due to take off we had the option to forego our seats on this flight, and get seats on another. We had a slightly complicated trip that included going up to Edinburgh the day we arrived, so we decided to go to JFK and see what happened.
My father likes getting to the airport early. I spent a lot of time traveling when I was younger. Every year or so, we would go to Italy. Even when I was older and understood about airport rules about arriving for a flight, I didn’t understand why we had to get there earlier than I might have had I been alone. When I was returning to the States from my semester abroad in London in May 2015, me and three other girls almost missed our flight when we chose to eat breakfast 15 minutes away from out gate. This time, I held my tongue. I had no desire to miss my flight to my favourite country in the world.
We arrived at the airport, checked in, and then had about four hours to waste until our flight left. We wandered, watched flights taking off, fiddling on our electronics and watched the sun set as we watched the boards waiting for our flight.
It happened. We boarded. Despite the rain that had been dripping from the sky.
We took off, flying into the air, heading towards a place I dream of living.
I watched a film about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill while my mother slept beside me. Somewhere during the credits, I dozed off.
When I woke, I stayed nestled against the window, raising the window blind slightly, watching the sun glow down through the clouds, past us, to the ocean far below.
We flew over the last of the Atlantic while we were having breakfast. Then it was over Ireland, the the southwestern tip of Wales and into England. We went lower, low enough that I could make out individual houses, and be excited.
We went through customs. At the time, the line was horrendous, now I don’t remember anything. I wanted to get to the other side, to be in Kings Cross, to be on a train speeding through the English and Scottish countryside on our way to Edinburgh.
The train journey was long. We had to buy new Oyster cards, take the Tube to Kings Cross,. Then we could finally get on the train to go to our final destination.
I’m a part of the Harry Potter generation. I’m one of the kids that every fan after me will be jealous of. I went to the midnight release parties for Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. I saw every film starting with Prisoner of Azkaban in the cinema. I read Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows in less than forty-eight hours each. I came home from the parties and didn’t go to bed until 04:00 or 05:00 because I was reading. So of course as I left Kings Cross and headed north for Edinburgh, I couldn’t help but think that I was retracing the train journey J. K. Rowling had put into the series.
When we arrived in Edinburgh, it was raining. It was the way I had always imagined Great Britain would be before I went for the first time at age eighteen and had only read about it in books. I didn’t mind. It was like I was getting the true British experience, an experience I hadn’t had in 2011 or 2015. My parents mentioned it, and I replied with: “It’s Scotland, what did you expect?”
Our taxi driver gave us a tour as he drove us from Edinburgh train station to Montgomery Street where we were staying, pointing out Old Town and New Town. Telling us a bit about the history. I cared, I heard it, now I don’t remember. I was back in Great Britain. That was what I cared about.