Shadwell to Bank. Bank to Liverpool. Liverpool to Stansted Airport. Earlier that morning it was Healthrow Airport to Paddington to something to Bank to Shadwell. And the day before it was Dallas to DC. DC to Heathrow. I'd been in so many planes, trains, and underground stations I couldn't remember what day it was, what time it was, what state, country, city I was in. Had I already napped today or was that yesterday? When was the last night I had a full night of sleep? And why was I so damn cold?
I'd never been slapped in the face with such a severe case of jetlag. I'd slept almost the entire hour train ride to Stansted, lying across three seats in a row to myself facing Cayden, and I felt like I woke up in yet another country. Stansted looked completely different from London. We stood outside waiting for the hotel's taxi to come pick us up and take us to warmth, and all around me was open space and trees.
It was cold, raining, and windy. Cayden unzipped his coat and pulled me against his chest, wrapping his arms and jacket around me. I shivered against him.
"They should be here soon. They said 10 minutes," he said, rubbing my back.
Had it been 10 minutes? Had it been an hour? I wasn't sure. I couldn't remember the last time I looked at my watch, nor could I remember what time zone it was ticking in.
"I can't wait for a warm shower," I said through chattering teeth.
I thought about the spicy chicken pitta I'd eaten at Nandos earlier that day, or week, or month. That was the last time I remembered being warm. I wiggled my toes and felt the moisture soaking through my socks. I'd brought the wrong shoes for this weather. Stupid.
We could only bring one carry on to Rome, so I had to pick just one pair of shoes to take with me. I should have opted for a pair of tennis shoes, but they'd look tacky with the black dress I'd picked out for Valentine's dinner, so I chose style over comfort. Never, EVER, make that mistake. I felt the grids of my shoe soles stabbing my heels. Apparently I'd worn down the cushion, so now it felt like I was walking barefoot across sharp, metal grates.
I lifted one foot for relief and then the other. I'd already complained about being sleepy and cold, so I tried to keep my severe foot pain under wraps. I didn't want Cayden to regret having me there.
Another 5 or 10 or 195 minutes passed and our taxi finally arrived. I would have jumped for joy had my feet not been screaming at me. We piled into the taxi with another couple. I sat back and smiled knowing I was 5 minutes away from a hot shower and cozy bed. My relaxed state was interrupted by the taxi driver's life-threatening driving. We were going 65 miles an hour on a tiny, winding road with sharp curves, surrounded by trees and ditches no sign of life. Oh, and it was raining. I thought we were going to die. It didn't help that I was convinced he was driving on the wrong side of the road.
I gripped Cayden's leg and closed my eyes. He seemed perfectly at ease.
"I thought that guy was going to kill us!" I loudly whispered to Cayden as I limped into the hotel alongside him.
"What do you mean?" he asked, clearly confused.
"He was driving like he wanted to die. Wanted all of us to die!"
He laughed at me and shook his head. Was it possible I was hallucinating? Did everything seem like it was moving faster because I had no concept of time?
"What time is it?" I asked, trying to interpret the hands on my watch.
"Just after midnight."
So it was 6 pm on Sunday in Texas and I hadn't slept since Friday.
The hotel's lobby was a strange combination of Indian and modern and random stylings. Complete with inspirational wall paintings.
It had a unique beauty to it as we walked through a green hallway and then a beige hallway to find out room. Our room was spacious, with burgundy walls golden curtains, a white bed, and dark brown triangular brown burn in the white carpet where someone had decided to use the floor as a makeshift ironing board.
The room had charm.
I was out of the rain, out of the cold, and four feet away from the shower.
"What time do we have to be up in the morning?" I asked, pulled my shirt over my head.
"We need to leave here at 4, so we should probably get up at 3:30."
I tried to keep my face neutral. I knew we had an early flight but I didn't know it was that early.
"Rock on," I said, pulling my sopping wet boots and socks off and wiggling my wrinkled, aching toes. I sat on the edge of the bed for a minute, waiting for the throbbing in my heels to stop.
"You OK?" Cayden asked, a look of concern in his eyes.
"I promise I'll be much more fun to be around after a hot shower and three hours of sleep. I promise." Although I wondered how I was going to hide the shoe problem while we hiked around a foreign country.
"I'm holding you to that," Cayden said, flashing his Cayden smile.
I turned the shower handle all the way to hot. I studied my reflection as I waited for the water to heat up. My somewhat curly somewhat wavy hair had turned into a flattened frizzy mess from the rain. My eyes were bloodshot. My face was a sickly shade of pale. And were those dark circles under my eyes, or just smudged eyeliner? What did Cayden possibly see in me?
I stepped under the water and exhaled as I felt it roll down my hair, down my shoulders and back. Then I squealed and flung myself onto the shower wall, as far away from the water as I could get. The water was cold. I was cold. Naked and cold. Cold and naked. And tired.
I wanted to call out to Cayden but I knew I looked like one of those gooey sticky hands flung against the glass. Or a gecko.
So much for a hot shower.