05 February, 2007

things American

It's getting closer! Our visit home. We've confirmed some more exciting plans: lunch in upstate New York with John's former assistant (and our permanent friend) Olimpia and her husband Tony. They have just built on an amazing new kitchen to their country place up in the mountains, from which Olimpia promises will issue... her famous meatballs. I cannot wait. And lunch with Alyssa at a new place in Tribeca, the Devin Tavern. Rustic American? That's what we're coming home for.

And we're staying in town at a little cozy-sounding place, The Union Square Inn. It gets hugely disparate reviews, and I hope it's decent, since it was my idea and John always likes better the sound of a place high in the sky, not low to the ground in the East Village. Anyway we'll be there only to sleep, so what's the problem. I don't think I have ever stayed in a New York hotel in the whole of my life. That's what happens when you live in a place; you don't see the hotels. Unless, that is, you live the kind of life where you do things in hotels in the town where you live, and alas... no. Sigh.

And in our uber-organised mode lately, John had the bright idea for me to renew my passport before we try to attach all sorts of legal immigration things to it, so we skidded over the two steps it takes to get to the American Embassy from our flat. Boy is that a weird place. Granted it's mind-bendingly ugly. I accept that. But I don't think I've ever been that close to a gun before, and they're all toting them, just like in American gangster films. Only not revolvers, but big long things with lots of handles. The demeanor of the chaps in the security hut is surprisingly jocular, considering their brief, but I guess you get used to anything. I had a little dropper bottle of what John calls "happy juice," a floral relaxation remedy (I know, I sound like a crackpot) in my bag, and let me tell you, the intense security and heightened state of alert in Grosvenor Square was alive to the possibilities of this potential breach of safety. The little bottle was scrutinized under the x-ray and then I was made to reach perilously into the bag myself (they weren't taking any risks with their own security, absolutely not), and hand it over, whereupon I was about to be given a claim ticket for it and watch it get installed ceremoniously in a locker. "Don't be silly, it's almost empty, you can pitch it," I said generously, and went in the building.

Afterwards I had a good spy-ish, plot-like thought (this is what comes of taking too many writing courses). What if, upon their finding my little bottle, I had made a fuss? Told them I had to take two droppers-ful every half hour or else drop dead? Or what if, even more sinister, I had given them back the bottle and then said that, on second thoughts, I didn't need to renew my passport that day, and had left? Would that have been terribly suspicious? John of course suggested that I should have said, "Oh keep it, I can always get more. It's just Polonium 210." I wonder if they would sic dogs on me? Life in London can be a little strange these days, especially in my neighborhood.

Anyway, the sweet embassy man behind Window #1 assured me that I should keep this passport as I could get only a year-long one on an emergency basis, fewer than 10 days before traveling, so I can look forward to visiting the embassy again when we return, and in the meantime I can run through some potential dialogue scenarios, smuggling this, smuggling that. I'm accepting scripts, if you'd like to apply.

1 comment:

Amy said...

You're coming to NY?? Let me know if you can squeeze me in, maybe we could do a little ice cream at Bazzini's like old times!