Time is a flat circle

Today time moved unexpectedly.

It begins with a redeye from NYC to London arriving at 7am at Heathrow. I take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, then switch to the Circle line to Liverpool Street. It’s a trip I know well from having made it several dozen times over the years.

The tube is moving slowly. It crawls forward one stop, stays there, then crawls forward again. I am fading in and out of sleep. My eyes open at each stop — oh we’re only at Baker Street — and then close again.

I open my eyes with a start. Something feels wrong. I look. We’re at Baker Street — again. What happened? Did I sleep through the whole train line and it’s now coming back the other way? I look at the train around me. I don’t recognize the passengers. I look at the time: still not yet 9am. What’s happening here?

Something has gone wrong. Before the doors close I get out. The train had been Eastbound and now it’s Westbound. As I leave the station to find a cab I see signs — service is stopping at Kings Cross and going back the other way. So I did sleep through something.

On the street I hail a black cab. The driver and I immediately engage in conversation, talking about New York, London, and how to find the single-block street in Hackney that I’m heading to. 

He brings up Harvey Weinstein — what do I think? I say even though I’m on the periphery of the movie industry, I’ve heard many stories about him over the years. Everyone has. This was not a secret, but the risk any individual faced in going public was high. It was only now that everyone was speaking out was it possible for anyone to speak out.

“Do you think he’ll go to jail?” the cabbie asks.

“I think he should kill himself,” I say.

The cabbie slows down the car and turns around and looks at me. 

“If he had any guts he would,” he says. “You know, that’s the third time you and I have had the same thought this morning.”

“We’re meant to be,” I respond.

I spend the morning and early afternoon in London. I walk down Brick Lane, visit the Whitechapel Gallery, and go to an art book store in Shoreditch. But time is short. I’m stopping in London very briefly. In a few hours I’m flying to Norway. 

The trip to Gatwick Airport is white-knuckled. The Gatwick Express is down. Then the train to Blackfriars where there’s another Gatwick train is also down. I finally get to the station but a long line for the ticket machines snakes through the terminal. I make my flight by a hair.

The flight to Norway, while only two hours, feels like the longest flight I’ve ever taken. I fade in and out of sleep, trying to will time forward so my long day and a half of travel can peacefully end.

My eyes open to look out the window. Outside I see only blackness and the silhouette of rain illuminated by the interior lights. And then, somehow, out of nowhere, I feel the plane wheels touch down. We’ve gone from the blackness of the night sky to ground what seems instantaneously.

The plane briefly taxis and stops. We’re sitting in the middle of the tarmac. Outside it is raining. A bell rings to announce we can now disembark.

I’m one of the last to leave. As I step out I see a long line of people walking a couple hundred meters to the terminal. A long customs line is forming in the rain. 

I take my place, a cold rain coming down over me. I look around. No one seems bothered by it so I decide not to be bothered either. Hello Norway.