Leaving London — whenever I do leave London it’s always the end of whatever trip I’ve been on to Europe, wherever else I’ve been in the country or continent. It was the case the last three times, it will be again next year when my July vacation rolls around. And so everything which had been familiar suddenly takes on an air of finality, for the time being.

Last time going down to a tube station, last time getting a pass if I need to get one, last time settling into the seats and watching the buildings pass by, then into the tunnels and seeing the station stops shoot past. What were interchanges are now places to cross once more and then not again for some time yet. I don’t know if I ever consciously drink in all the sounds and conversations and whatever swirling around me at those points, I think usually I’m either too focused on getting to Heathrow on time or else just too tired if I had to get up really early. And sometimes I just throw on the iPod and zone, letting the beats take me away, somehow.

It becomes a smear of people and locations and sights as that trip goes along, making my way back to the airport the same way I came in. And sure, it’s always a little depressing — almost always it’s right back to work the day after I get back, jet lag or no jet lag, so there’s nothing to look forward to on the one hand (on the other, there’s getting to crash in my own bed, always a fine feeling).

And then I’m at Heathrow and hauling my bags any which way and then it becomes AirportWorld rather than London pretty quickly. Nothing left but the touristy posters I pass by on the way to my gate. Well, and my memories too.