23. TMATNB

Worst night’s sleep ever.

It was a terrible night’s sleep.  Whilst I was able to communicate a bit with Nook, I kept hoping that I would receive that craved SMS: “I’m on my way back to you” or something along those lines.  It never arrived.  I knew that my hours with Nook were done, and whatever happened next would be entirely up to her.

I had a slow start to the morning, doing my best to delay the inevitable of my departure.  I packed, unpacked, repacked, packed again.  I didn’t have that much with me, I just didn’t want to go.

Eventually it was time to head down to reception and check out and head to the airport.  My flight wasn’t for several more hours, but I couldn’t sit in the hotel room alone any longer.  Overwhelming memories of my time with Nook.  All good, no, better than good, all truly fantabulous, but she wasn’t there to add to or share them.

Checkout was smooth, swipe of a bit of plastic, sign here, thank you for  your stay, sir.

I’m sure that hotel staff must often make up stories to go with guests - they look at someone and create a narrative to explain their presence in the hotel, the city.  Maybe it’s a conference, or a business meeting.  Possibly tourists.  A naughty weekend.  I wonder what story the staff made up for my stay.  The man who kept putting the “do not disturb” sign on the door, who spent hours in the hotel bar with non-guests, who ordered champagne for room service, and sat on the WiFi all day.  It’s probably not the story of Nook and Chair that came to mind for them.

 

Airport, please.

Given the extra time I allowed myself for hanging about in the airport lounge (hooray for comfy class), the trip to the airport was entirely relaxed.  I sent a lot of emails from my iPhone to Nook, and she to me.  I kept her updated with my progress of the morning, told her I missed her, and how much I loved her.

I mentioned early on in our story that there were a few “near misses” in my connection with Nook.  During our conversations back in December, we discovered a few of them.  As I was driven to the airport, a few of these near misses appeared before me.

About four years ago I was visiting the city near where Nook lives.  I was there for work purposes, and she and I were not in contact at the time.  The Nook Dark Ages, as it were.  I stayed with colleagues at a very nice hotel just outside the city centre, and was there for the week.

The day that I arrived, I walked with one of my colleagues through the heart of the city and we stopped at a Starbucks to get caffeine - we both had jetlag and knew this would temporarily help us.

As I’ve mentioned, one of the things that Nook and I do to keep in touch is send each other HeyWAY updates; but we have a few other traditions as well.  Since, for the moment, we can not enjoy coffee or tea together as much as we’d like, we will often take pictures of our respective drinks and “share” them via email on our iPhones.

Back in late December, Nook had a business meeting in the city and stopped to get a coffee.  Following on our tradition, she emailed me a picture she took.

I immediately recognised the location.  It was the same Starbucks that my colleague and I had visited during my visit four years ago.  The view out the window, and the window itself, was immediately recognisable.

As the taxi departed the hotel, he happened to go right by that very same Starbucks.  I smiled.

But that wasn’t the only nostalgic surprise for me on that trip.

The taxi driver took a non-standard route to the airport.  There wasn’t much traffic, but, apparently this was the route he preferred.  And yes, we had the usual taxi-driver banter about the weather and the local sports team (I can’t stand organised sports, so this was a very one-sided conversation).

This route took me right by the hotel that I last stayed in four years previous.  A hotel, it turns out, that Nook’s employer was directly involved with.  We’d actually discovered this a few months previous, but this was the first time I’d seen the hotel since.  I took a picture and emailed it to Nook...she too immediately recognised it.

 

Lounge.

Once at the airport, I settled into the comfy class lounge, opened up my laptop and kept in touch with Nook for the few hours remaining before my flight away from her.

The fact that she was still communicating with me I took as a good sign.  I wasn’t sure what would happen next in our relationship, but, at least she had not fully cut me out of her life after our time together.

Eventually it was time to board the plane; I sent Nook one more email to let her know I was about to take off, turned off my phone, closed my eyes, thought of her, and began the first leg of my trip back home...