Traveling alone to a foreign country is an interesting experience; best described as a feeling of empowering highs and equally terrifying lows. And considering this was my first time, I had no idea what was in store.
Just 4 days ago, I sat wide-eyed at an Irish pub at JFK, chomping away at my fish and chips and sucking down my red wine, ready to board a flight to London, by myself. For those of you who don’t know, I used to be petrified of flying. I’m talking hyperventilating, ice cold palms, thinking I smell smoke every 2 minutes scared. Yes, I have been known to drink red wine out of a coffee mug at 5 am for a quick flight to Miami. I’m not proud of this phobia, but it is what it is.
So this trip to London and Paris was a huge for me. Not only was I so excited to bring my brand to my favorite cities, I was determined to do it solo, for many reasons. It took me a long time to overcome so many of my anxieties, and this trip was kind of my grand finale. I know I’ve been posting tons of photos of pretty houses in Chelsea and champagne meet ups, but the reality is, this trip has not been all Prosecco and roses. I did manage to fly fearlessly (for which I’m super proud), but this time, the drama began to unfold when I was on the ground…
After a 6 hour flight and no sleep (I mean, who could pass out when there was a 2 hour David Bowie rockumentary on!?) I stepped off the plane and headed to the Heathrow Express, the train that connects Heathrow airport to the city. Between the jet lag and the lack of shut-eye, I barely noticed that anything was wrong until I stepped into Paddington Station. Suddenly, a wave of fear swept over my body. Why is my bag so light?? Holy shit, my laptop! It’s gone! I felt my entire body heat up and panic began to set in. Was I robbed? How could I let this happen? I’m so stupid! This trip was a terrible idea!
I dropped my bag on the floor and began rummaging through it. I tore apart every single inch, hoping that my exhaustion was making my mind play tricks on me and I’d see the laptop at the bottom of my very roomy carry on. When I realized my beloved computer (and lifeline) was officially gone, I took a deep breath and tried not to explode into a sea of tears. As I trudged through Paddington and up the long, brick ramp to street level, I hailed a cab in what felt like a complete daze. Being 5 hours ahead, I had nobody to call since it was only 3 am in New York. I whipped out my iPhone and started logging into all my apps, changing my passwords just to be safe. We pulled up to my hotel and although I was finally in Chelsea, my favorite part of London, I was too upset to notice how good it felt to be back for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.
“Welcome, Madame!” the cheerful man shouted from the front desk of my super posh hotel.
“I’m checking in,” I replied, stone cold. I must have looked like a complete bitch because I don’t even remember cracking a smile.
“Your room is not ready yet, but should be in a half hour. Would you like to have a coffee and we’ll store your luggage?” He pointed to a small corner, flashing a giant smile. Oh no. You are not touching my luggage. I’m onto you people! I thought.
“Can you lock it up? I just lost my laptop and I’m very upset.” The New Yorker in me shines through in every situation; I just can’t help myself.
“Oh no, Madame! Is there anything we can do? We can call the airport. Where did you lose it? We’ll lock up your luggage, no worries.” (They really are so sweet here, although I was too confused to notice it at the time).
I fought back tears and assured them I was okay and would figure it out once I had some coffee in me and a chance to clear my head. After chugging 3 glasses of water (jet lag is a bitch), and a few sips of a dry cappuccino, I made my way up to my room. The reality began to set in: I was alone, on what should have been my dream trip. I came here to sit in cafes and blog and work on my novel, and now all I had with me was a 4 inch smart phone to try and google “lost and found” centers in JFK and Heathrow. I began to sob, feeling like I had completely let myself down.
I feverishly tapped out a series of dramatic text messages to my husband filling him in on the situation so he’d know to call me as soon as he woke up. I laid down to try to sleep off some of my anxiety and tell myself that this one unfortunate incident was not going to ruin my trip. I would figure it out, somehow, someway. And until then, I’d try to get some rest.
I woke up 3 hours later and grabbed my phone. My amazing husband already had a game plan. Since I had a feeling I might have lost my laptop on the plane (I distinctly remembered seeing it in my carry on while sifting through my bag for my sleep mask), he sent an email to Heathrow with a description of the laptop, including photos and both of our contact information. He also told me there was a website called Missingx.com, where Heathrow registers found items and people register what they’ve lost, hoping for a connection. He registered my computer and told me he’d keep a close eye on the site to see if anything turned up that could be a match. Seriously, he is a gem. Feeling a little better, I showered and set out for an afternoon walk on King’s Road to grab some much-needed coffee.
Over the next two days, we both called (read: stalked) Heathrow’s Lost + Found phone line, which notoriously keeps you on hold for a good 20 minutes before anyone picks up (my bill is going to be fun). On Thursday evening, I got a text from my husband saying they had registered a Macbook air in a black sleeve. I was overcome with a sense of excitement and truly felt it was mine, even though I had no real description outside of that. As most of you know, I’m a huge Law of Attraction girl, so I felt like if I focused on assuring myself it was my laptop and not letting any negativity in, I’d be golden.
The next morning, I called Heathrow’s Lost + Found line yet again; this time to confirm that they did in fact have my missing computer. After finally getting someone on the line and going through a detailed description (seriously, it was like I was working with the CIA on some covert operation), the attendant confirmed they did in fact have a laptop that fit my description. I held my breath as I heard him turn it on on the other end. That familiar Mac hum filled the line and he asked me for my password. I spelled out the letters, crossing my fingers so tightly I nearly cut off circulation. “Yep, this is yours!” he proclaimed. I felt my eyes well up with tears and thanked him profusely.
That afternoon, I took the Heathrow Express all the way back to the airport to claim my lost lifeline. After 2 train rides, 2 cab rides, and an experience like no other, I finally settled back into my hotel later that day feeling extremely grateful. And it wasn’t just the fact that I had my computer. I was grateful that despite whatever was going on, I stayed in control and remained positive. My “dream trip” definitely got off to a rocky start, but ultimately that’s what makes life, life.
We can’t predict the highs and lows, all we can do is flow with them, and know that in the end, whatever is missing will ultimately show up.