Sunday, August 18, 2013

No room at the inn

Our last weekend in NZ (for a while) was certainly a time of whanau and friends. After the wedding on Saturday, Sunday had a special sweetness to it. Jane and Digby and Bill prayed with us during the morning service at CB. Ed and Anna came for lunch on their way back to Wellington from Whanganui, and then Jenah and James came over to tell us the wonderful news of their engagement, and share stories about their travels. At 4.50pm, I offloaded them at the bus to head back to Wellington (I'm not staying to wave goodbye - I will cry") and had a sudden yearning to go to the 5pm service at All Saints - what better way to calm my nerves than the words of the prayer book? It was a restful, quiet service, with a visiting organist, friends. John Hornblow caught sight of me at the end of the service and invited the congregation to pray for me, and friends clustered around. Then to Grandma and Grandad's for fish and chips, where we managed to laugh despite our imminent departure.

Monday morning and we were off to Pukekohe (with me still giving Andy last minute instructions about the dogs - he is very forbearing) and a day with Bain and Lorraine, hearing about their African Safari, the girls chatting with their favourite Pukekohe friend, Mrs Roberts.

And then the long journey began. What is there to say about a 13 hour flight to Los Angeles except that the flight was full? I was glad to stay a night in Los Angeles where we visited the Griffith Observatory at sunset, had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, and studied the celebrity stars on the sidewalk (translation in my head: pavement-footpath-sidewalk). "Who ARE all these people?" said Lizzy, puzzling over the names on the stars.

Back to the airport. Can I sing the praises of Jet blue? I have flown United across the US before and was dreading the flight. But the flight was fast, and the plane clean and roomy, good food, excellent distractions, humorous and charming staff. We were supposed to have an hour between landing in New York and getting on a plane to Burlington, but as we got into the terminal they were calling the final boarding call. We ran - and got there just as they were closing the flight.

So we landed in Burlington at about 12.30am to find the airport all but deserted, one bag missing, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with emotion. It all crashed in on me: the loveliness and joy of Anne-Marie's wedding, the emotion of saying goodbye to my parents, worries about work that have plagued me for months, the weeks and weeks of daily lists to do the work of packing up family and work, and the overwhelming sense that this thing i had worked hard for and dreamed of for years was suddenly here, bowled me over completely.

We got in the taxi and drove through dark and mysterious streets, trying to glimpse our new home, to our hotel. Landed at the feet of two young and delightful check-in girls at the Hotel Vermont: to find they weren't expecting us. The booking had been somehow stuffed up - they were expecting us in the middle of the next night - and there was no room at the inn. In fact, no room at the inn anywhere in Burlington. they rang hotels, resorts, guest houses: nothing. The only possible place was a two hour drive away. 

But, looking at our aghast faces, they came up with a plan. They took us to a meeting room, made up beds from mountains of pillows on the floor, brought me camomile tea, and generally tucked us in. I will remember their kindness, their delight as they solved the puzzle, as they brought up the trolley laden with every pillow and duvet they could find in the hotel. And so that was our first night in Burlington: sleeping on pillows, struck by the kindness of the first Vermonters we had met.

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing quite like the kindness of strangers, it is completely wonderful and unique. What an interesting beginning to your adventures!