Tuesday, October 14, 2014

long way home

Last month I took the long journey from south central PA back to Christchurch, NZ. Due to the University booking Kevin's tickets separately, I travelled alone and for roughly 50 hours navigated 4 airports, 3 countries, and what felt like dozens of security checks.

But I always find travelling alone to be a liberating experience. Whether it's a trip across an unfamiliar town without GPS or a few flights across the globe, it's a similar feeling of accomplishment and pride. Like, 'look what I can do! All alone!'

For this trip I booked my flights to allow a particularly long and drawn out trip. It seemed like a good idea at the time; and in the end it was. But 50 hours is a lot, ya know? By hour 42ish I crashed pretty hard a fell asleep sitting up & open mouthed for an hour or two in the middle of Sydney International. Probably not my finest hour.

My check-in was in Washington DC where my flight was set to take off at 9:15am on a Tuesday. If you've ever been to DC you know that rush hour traffic is something that horror film writers dream of. So even 3 hours wasn't enough time for my Mom and her lead foot (love you, mom). We screeched into Reagan at exactly 8:45am. I told her to do a lap around the parking lot while I went inside to see when the next flight was.

It was a miracle, it really was, when the kind check-in attendants called my gate and told me I could make it if I ran. When I boarded my plane (at 9:06am) I was practically dry heaving and carrying 4 pairs of non-matching shoes (my luggage was overweight). Then I burst into tears because I realized that I didn't hug my Mom goodbye and wouldn't see her again for roughly 7-8 months. So, not the greatest start to my solo journey home.

But after a phone call and some blubbering apologies and I love you's later I was en route to Los Angeles. I don't know many people on the west coast of our beautiful country, but I lucked out by having family members and a few friends move to LA all within the past year.

Familiar faces in a town you don't know really make all the difference. My lovely guides took me to some awesome places, beginning with probably the best tacos I've ever tasted. It was sunny, warm and beautiful. Like most days are in LA are, I've heard.

It was exactly what I needed, after a rough start to the long trip. To be around family and friends who lifted my spirits, fed me awesome food and made me laugh. If any of you are reading this now, thank you so much. It probably didn't seem like much to you, but it was the best farewell to the US I could've asked for.

I got a window seat on the 15 hour flight to Sydney, next to a lovely couple who were visiting the states from Perth. I fell asleep before take off.

Sydney was great. I don't know anyone there, or in Australia at all really. But I loved the freedom this gave me to just be on my own and go whichever direction I felt like walking.

A train took me to the harbour, to see the iconic sights of course. A Starbucks provided me hot (overpriced) delicious American coffee and free wifi. And the Botanical Gardens gave me a beautiful quiet spot to observe and finish my book. (Gone Girl--just in time for the movie!)

I ate the most amazing gelato I've ever had (although I've never been to Italy, so theres that). And a street performer held my attention for a solid 30 minutes (even though he blatantly made fun of Americans, his ability to juggle flaming swords was tops). So all in all, not too bad. Not bad at all.

One last little flight left before I arrived home. I sat by the window again and fell asleep before take off again. Upon arriving at customs I had to admit the food I was bringing back from America; Pringles, candy corn, Pop-tarts and Oreos.
Is it any wonder we Americans make a name for ourselves?

And just like that, a trip to the other side of the world. The air is still cold here, but the grass is green and the land is just as beautiful as I last recall.
It's good to be back.

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