I ended up in the very last row of the first plane with nobody next to me, so I had two seats on which to curl up and doze. I wouldn't call it sleeping, exactly, but I closed my eyes and a lot of time went by...
Then came the seven looooong hours of layover at London Gatwick - where the only things to do were buy duty-free stuff, eat paninis and chocolate, stare at the Departure monitors, and sleep. (I fell asleep on a bench for an hour or so, using my bag as a pillow.) However, the problem with that airport is that they don't assign gate numbers until your plane is practically already leaving. There's a looooong list of planes and times on the monitors, but only the top six or seven of them have gate numbers, and there is of course no gate number on your boarding pass, either. So, when my plane was scheduled to leave at 15.35, I was still perched on a chair, eyes glued to the Monitor of Truth, at 15.10. But again, it all worked out. (Hey, Dad - and my iPod is still almost half full! Yay for the better battery...)
Anyway, that last little 'hop' was no problem at all - they barely had time to throw some food at us before we were landing again. Oh, yes, and when the snack carts finally cleared the aisle and twenty or so people jumped up to use the bathrooms, we hit some really bad turbulence and were falling all over the people at the back of the plane. (I was helping an English woman with her crossword puzzle and practically fell into her lap.) They made us all go and sit down again (no easy feat; I was in row 6), so then there was of course a mad dash for the toilets when we finally got to Schiphol. But that was only after they managed to unlock the doors of the connecting tunnel... we all stood packed in there like sardines for a few minutes, making claustrophobia comments, while the attendant banged helplessly on the door. Pretty amusing. But my seatmates were cool; I was sitting on the aisle with an empty space between me and a girl by the window whose boyfriend had somehow ended up assigned on the other side of the aisle. I heard them talking in Dutch to each other, so I asked, "Wil je liever hier zitten?" and after the plane filled up we worked out an arrangement that suited us all. They were nice - I never did catch their names, but they were about my age and from Hoofddorp (close to Amsterdam). When I said I had just flown from Florida, they started asking things like, "So you traveled alone? Was it a vacation?" and I had to explain that no, no, this was my vacation; I actually lived in Florida. Even then they didn't get it - "Yeah, I can hear that just a little bit," the guy said - then said (statement, not question), "But you are Dutch, I mean originally." When I said no and explained the situation, they both looked impressed and the guy started looking around for their friends in other rows, "I'm going to tell everybody I know!" :)
And then came the line for customs - unreasonably long - where I had time to make friends with the Scottish guy and South African girl behind me, and to crack up the French guys behind them when talking about the employees' retinal scanner on the other side of the rail. "Wonder what would happen if I tried it? It'd probably open up and tear my eye out or something..." I was getting pretty hyper by then - lack of sleep and too many fatty foods. Anyway, but I got through, met M (despite everything, it was still great to see him), got on the train, collapsed onto an orange seat... and was struck by how normal it all felt. It's like I've never been away. I was literally skipping through Zwolle when we changed trains - I'm back!
I know the number-one question is going to be 'is it weird to be staying with a guy who is actually officially your ex?', and surprisingly enough, no. We talked a little bit about it on the train last night - I was by that point basically in a sleepy fog, but still coherent enough to make it plain once again that my decision is final, but that I still want to have a good vacation. He eventually agreed with that, and I don't anticipate any more 'issues'. My main worry is actually that I'll 'start liking him again' during these two weeks, but all I have to do is think about Semester at Sea and swimming and school and all my other plans and that's enough to get rid of those kind of thoughts. Because it's not just him; I just don't really want to be with anyone right now. I have too much going on to try to make time for someone else. It'll happen again sooner or later, but right now I just want to focus on me without all the baggage and limitations that other people bring to your life. That's not always bad, but I'd just like a break right now, thanks very much. :)
Anyway, I've mostly slept off the jet lag (I didn't even stir when M left for work this morning; I slept until almost eleven) and now he's still at work and I'm messing around on the computer and wrapping presents. Tomorrow we're going to the Zwaluwhoeve, that spa we went to last year and liked so much, and next week I'll probably make the rounds in Utrecht. L and C have answered my e-mail saying 'sometime next week', but L and M and P haven't yet seen fit to answer me at all (*cough*hint*cough*). M's parents are going to a birthday party later and I'm going to bike into town, since it's koopzondag ('shopping Sunday', when the stores are open), and try to find an agenda and a few other things. Then I'm hoping we can go swimming tonight - I miss it already, especially with all the chocolate and sausage and white bread and stuff that one gets to eat around here.
Or... maybe I'll take another little nap first...