In about seven hours, a taxi will pick me up from my parents’ house in the suburbs of South London, and then deposit me at Heathrow, where I’ll be processed through check in and bag drop and security and departure lounge and airplane, and then probably end up in Miami International Airport. I haven’t been there since 1 January, 2000. Partly because I’m superstitious about visiting a place that has the same initials as Missing In Action, but mostly because one hungover morning in the Sunshine State was quite enough to convince me I didn’t need to go back. Lying in the hot sun, incapable, feeling painful sand beneath me, I knew I wasn’t built for that sort of life.
Right now, I’m not sure where I’m designed for. Probably time to take some melatonin and then doze off, trust my body to figure out what time zone it should be in, trust my driver to wake up at the right time tomorrow morning, trust myself to wake up too. It doesn’t help to have been reading John Henry Days on the plane and on the ground, a novel involving many people in a terrible hotel, full of ennui and rage. But for now I can’t decide whether to fight the dying of the light or just conk out asleep. What am I missing if I don’t stay up?
Earlier today (at least in this time zone) I got to speak to my baby. She seemed quite happy that her father had transited from her home to inside the iPad. As I watched her fingers reach out and smear the screen from the other side, I felt great joy that she was so accustomed to this new reality of ours, and still able to recognize me. The placement of the camera on an iPad, at the top of the instrument, means that you’re never looking quite into the screen itself; each person is always looking slightly away from the other’s gaze. Is this a design feature, to point out that technology can only go so far in connecting people? Or is it a sign that my baby and I are just a bit too close when we try to communicate?
Best not to ponder. Better now to sleep. Can’t sleep. Must sleep.