Thursday, July 30, 2015

Traveling: Step One

I am writing this in an airport food court after taking a red eye flight and it's 4:30 a.m. my time so I'm probably extra sensitive to the sheer weirdness around me.

A few questions are circulating in my mind.

How are people eating Papa Johns at 8 am? And since when does Burger King serve breakfast? Why did I just give nearly an hour of pay for a Starbucks small breakfast wrap and a coffee?

I'm a little irritated and a lot tired so I'm not exactly writing this as a glass half full kind of girl.

Here's what has happened in the past 24 hours:

Lizzie's birthday dinner and me crying at our mom's home as I realized I was leaving.
Birthday cake and my mom crying (causing me to cry) because she realized I was leaving.
Movie and crying. Packing and crying. Second servings of birthday cake so I stop crying.

The crying eventually subsided as I realized I was going. I had a ticket. A suitcase. Passport and Visa. I was going and everything would be okay.

But before it would be okay I would have to say goodbye and get to the airport. Let me give you a replay:

Lizzie decided she would take me to the airport for my red-eye flight. But before that we had to get my giant, double my width, taking-all-my-strength suitcase down our apartment stairs. 50 pounds is the limit for a checked suitcase and I knew that mine was too big. But I was going away for five months! I needed one and then a copy of everything. I needed 100 developed photos and frames. I couldn't narrow down what books I wanted to bring- so hey, why not just pack the top ten heaviest I own?

Lizzie decided she wouldn't help me with my bags because "you'll have to carry them by yourself later anyways". So I took my bag down two flights of stairs and put it in her car, and I swear her car bounced up and down like I had just installed hydraulics.

When I got to the airport, the woman at the counter watched me haul my bag onto the scale and told me very gently that it was 17 pounds over. 1-7, people. Not just a blow dryer or one of my cement books I decided to carry. I would have to empty 17 pounds worth of stuff.

Obviously I couldn't do that, so instead I asked her what the fee is. $100. I was kind of hoping she would say, "Just kidding! Your bag is miraculously only two pounds in total weight! You're the best packer I've seen all day- actually in my entire life!" And we would high five, and I would skip to my gate, doing a handshake with the TSA officers as I pass through security.

This fantasy was interrupted by her saying, "Credit or debit?" And then, "Why do you have so much stuff anyways?"

If I knew that, I wouldn't be paying $100, lady.

I got to security and forgot I had packed a water bottle. The TSA officer finds the pink thermos and at this point I'm a threat to national security. "I'm sorry," the officer says, "you'll have to gather your things, come with me and go back through security."

Second time I make it through and get on my not-so-merry way to my gate but before I can get to my gate, a woman comes up to me looking so scared and asking about her gate in broken English. "I'm from France, I only talk French," she says timidly. I think to myself, "Hey I'm going to France! And I don't speak French. Wait, what if I get lost in the airport?! What if no one helps me?"

I started to panic, thinking I may cry because that's the pattern of today, and there's no cake to stop me.

But instead I don't cry, and I make friends with the girl (as close as friends as you get can when all you know is "hello" and "how are you?' in French) and I make it on my first flight and sleep the whole way.

My second flight leaves from Charlotte to NY. I have a window seat (win) and as I gazed out the window and took a deep breath, a man looked at me and told me he is sitting in the middle. He is double the width of my giant suitcase and probably 4 times its weight. He sits awfully close. He tells me he has vodka in his cup. He hates flying.

"I'm a big guy, sitting in the middle is never good for me." I laugh, not because it's funny, but because if I don't I'll probably cry. Again.
"So we are about to get real comfy cozy," he says, and stretches like he's in a yoga class and not an economy airplane.

Flying is fun.

Wishing you all a wonderful end of week and weekend! I'll be posting each week about this new journey. 32 days left in NY, 32 days left till my semester abroad.

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