I waited at Heathrow Terminal 5 for as long as I could. They had said it would be and in fact was on the next plane from Amsterdam, which was supposed to come in at 15.10. Naturally, it was late. Standing by the baggage claim, desperation physically manifesting itself in the contortions of my face, I knew at 16.15 that I had to go. At the British Airways counter, where at this point I was no stranger and my situation – as well as that of several other passengers – was well known, I told them to ship my bag and that I needed to leave to catch my 18.00 flight out of Terminal 4. I lingered for a moment, the guy said, “Sir, you need to go,” and I nodded, took my claim sheet, and left.
Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep or the general residual anxiety left over from the six hours I spent waiting this afternoon, but I’ve felt every bump on this flight. The good news is the plane is almost empty and I have the whole row to myself. Just for a bit of symmetry, I’m seated in the exact same seat and row I was on the way to London in the first place. The flight attendant even recognized me and remembered I didn’t have a meal last time either. Still, despite the familiarity of my surroundings, I don’t want to sleep if I can help it, to try and better shock myself into the Eastern time zone – though if it goes as well as my shocking myself into GMT, I’m fucked – staying up until five in the morning blogging about stoner fests probably doesn’t do much for the overall circadian rhythm. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t satisfying, as hard as that is to explain to others sometimes.
Thanks are due. Overdue if you actually want to keep count, and as I bounce around the sky on yet another terrible flight to Newark, I owe a debt first and foremost to my beautiful, wonderful wife, The Patient Mrs., without whose persistent indulgences and flight/hotel-booking skills I’d no doubt be locked in Jersey for the remainder of my days. Not a day goes by that I’m not amazed to be in her presence, and of all the things I look forward to about going home, I look forward to seeing her face most of all.
Second, to Walter and the crew at Roadburn. The sheer kindness and graciousness Walter and company have shown to me these last four years has been unreal and has enabled me to witness things more astounding than I ever thought I would. Saint Vitus on stage in 2009. Sleep and YOB this year. These experiences I will take with me for as long as I am able to carry them and I continue to be humbled at and inspired by the sheer scope of passion the Roadburn festival carries over into outdoing itself each successive year. 2012 was the best yet, and I’m honored to have been there to see it.
Also to Dan and Reece at DesertScene, for allowing me access and insight into London’s heavy underground like I’d never seen before over the three days of Desertfest. I met so many excellent people and saw so much killer music. It was great to be a part of that as it got its start, and whether or not I’m able to follow up in subsequent years (because who knows what the next 12 months or the next 12 days – or the next 12 minutes, on this freaking plane – will bring), the chance to make new friends and spend time with others was amazing, and though I know I’m awkward as hell in person, I really did have a great time chatting with everyone who came up and said hi who knew the site and had kind things to say. That goes for at Roadburn as well.
There are others. The dudes in Stone Axe, Stubb and Trippy Wicked definitely, who made Eindhoven such a blast. Chris and Maggie, my new friends whom I hope to see again. Josh from The Black Heart, of whose establishment I was insanely jealous. Nick Cassells, Vania, BillsBrother, (the) Chest Rockwell, Leslie, Désirée Hanssen, Zulya my fellow sans-baggage passenger this afternoon, the dudes in Roadsaw and Orange Goblin, Tommi Holappa, bands like Grifter and Alunah and Conan, whom it was great to see in the flesh and to meet as well. Tim from Prefix, Andy who’s buddies with Lee Dorrian, Ian who unfortunately I didn’t meet but who was kind enough to offer me a place to crash, David who I know I’ll see soon at some show in Brooklyn, Jens Heide, JemDooM and Johnolith, Mike Scheidt and Kevin the DJ. The dude at Bullit Records for the tote and chat. The artist Joe Wardwell, whose method of recontexualizing pieces of lyrics became the basis of these post headlines. So many more. I’m sure others will come to me on the flight before I actually get to post this. As soon as I put down the laptop, most likely.
One more note of thanks too to Sound of Liberation and the crew at the Desertfest in Berlin for their kind invitation to their fest this weekend. As excited as I am to be heading home, part of me feels like I’m leaving the trip unfinished by not heading out that way this coming weekend. If you can make it, I strongly urge you to go. More info on it is here.
Turbulence has calmed somewhat, which I type hoping not to jinx it, and looking out my window past the wing, which I’m happy to report is still very much there, the upsides of the clouds look like some alien polar landscape. Sleep had footage behind them at Roadburn of Arctic mountains that I recognized from the Planet Earth series. That’s kind of what these clouds look like, and they go on forever, with the Atlantic Ocean’s contemplative gray visible in patches, as though any kind of memento mori was needed in this airborne tube of death.
The flight’s about 40 percent over. I’m at 36,000 feet with a solid five hours of travel time left. I don’t know if it’s more than I thank The Patient Mrs., and I know it’s something I’ve said a lot throughout these posts (especially the long ones), but from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. I consider The Obelisk a continual work in progress and I want to make it clear that your coming along for this and any other trips, or even just checking out and responding to a review, clicking the ‘Like’ button at the bottom of a post, leaving a comment calling me out on ripping on Danava while giving Graveyard the royal treatment – totally fair criticism – it’s all massively, overwhelmingly appreciated. More than I can say, and I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I can be pretty wordy sometimes.
It’s been a long trip, and I’m almost home.
Tags: Desertfest & Roadburn Adventure 2012