Most often when people are planning trips, they most strongly prepare for and consider what they’ll do when they’ve arrived at said destination. On my journey from Seattle to Perth, I’ve learned the importance of going with the flow when the plan goes awry… especially when things go crazy right at the beginning!
Thursday, I said some of my hardest goodbyes to my dad and amazing boyfriend Joe (who has been nothing but 1,000% supportive of this whole trip) and headed to the airport with my mom. When we got to the check in desk and asked for a guest pass for her so that she would be allowed to walk me to my gate, there was some resistance from the first women we talked to. The supervisor was more than willing to give my mom a pass (thank god too, because I’m pretty sure my face showed my impending nervous breakdown) and we went through security.
Quick Tip: Don’t forget to take your laptop out of your backpack before going through security. If you don’t, you will get a stern talking to and a healthy dose of embarrassment for all to see.
My excited:nervous ratio was about 50/50 at this point, so my mom and I got some food and she taught me her secret master ways on how to solve a suduko puzzle. When I heard that it was time to board my flight from Seattle to San Francisco, I totally lost it. Anxiety does that to you. You think you have it under control and then one little thing opens the flood gates and sweeps you off to crazy town. I feel bad for all of the people who witnessed me hysterically crying, hugging my mom, and saying over and over “I can’t do this. I want to stay. I can’t be gone that long. Its going to be too hard.” It doesn’t matter how many years, how many times, how many situations you’ve been in where you have a panic attack. They don’t get any easier. They just happen.
That’s why its so important to have people around to remind you of your goals. My mom just hugged me, asked me what I needed, and told me that I am stronger than this stupid disorder in my brain. So even though it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, I walked away from my comfort zone and down the airplane ramp, found my seat, and settled in. “Only two hours ‘till I meet with Kacy in San Fran…” I would think, and start to feel better. Then, “107 days till I see Joe….” Would follow right after along with a new vengeance. Thinking about how long it would be until I saw my family was absolutely crushing. I cried almost 2/3 of the way through the flight, then finally said “I’ve had enough.” So I went to the bathroom, cried as hard as I could and gave myself a minute to feel all of the emotions going through my head, then looked in the mirror and fixed up my face. I went back to my seat and started coloring in the Sea Life coloring book for adults that my mom bought me before my flight began. I finished a whole octopus right on time for our landing in San Fran.
I rushed off of the plane and past a few terminals until I found the one where Kacy and I would be boarding our next flight to LA. I got right in line with her and we started catching up and she reassured me that it wasn’t easy for her to leave either. I felt a lot better having her there. I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be alone on this program- we had purposely planned it that way. Thank God we did that.
The flight from San Francisco to LA was short; I believe we left a few minutes early actually. The whole time I had been flying I was thinking about how amazing it was that the flights were on time, bags were not an issue, and things had been going relatively smooth despite me having to run to the next terminal. Little did I know what mishaps were yet to come!
We had been sitting in the airplane at the airport at a standstill for about 10 minutes when everyone started getting restless. The pilot spoke over the intercom saying there was a problem with a passenger or something, so we would have to wait another 20 minutes or so to pull up to the gate. If this had been out last flight of the day it would be no problem, but we had to get off the plane, get our bags, make it to the international side of the airport, go through security, and find out gate for our 15-hour flight to Sydney- all within the hour. As soon as we pulled up to the gate we were off to baggage claim (of course, our bags were last), then began our spring to the other side of LAX to check in. Once we got to check in, we handed over our passports so they could check our flights and visas. They couldn’t. find. the visas. So we’re freakin’ out because we have a flight to catch and the lovely women was frantically trying to get us on the flight. After working with some of her supervisors, our visas were cleared, baggage tags were printed, and we were sent sprinting for security.
Sweating and huffing and puffing, we show up to the line for security, which seems to contain everyone and their mother. Finally, airport security rerouted the lines to a new section and started new lines and we got through relatively quickly. We sprinted again to the gate and got in line to board. We shuffled to the back of the plane (passing all those lucky enough to be in the spacious and luxurious business class) and found our row. I had the window seat, Kacy had the middle, and a very nice women name Pam was in the isle. Of course my nerves started to get ahold of me again at this point. They announced that it would be a 14-hour flight to Sydney and my response was to pop some anxiety pills. The flight was smooth with some sprinkles of turbulence that made me shutter. We watched movie after movie and attempted to sleep as much as we could, which was pretty impossible considering the very small amount of space we had to move around. At one point, Kacy and I noticed that Pam had been missing from her chair for a while so we stood up and looked around. She was lying on the floor in the back of the plane with an oxygen mask and two flight attendants helping her. When she returned to her seat later, we asked how she was feeling and she said she had fainted but felt otherwise fine now. So we all went back to staying distracted by this whole ordeal in our own ways.
It felt like we would never get off the plane- like we would just keep flying around the world forever and ever. Finally, I could see the sun catching up to us and the pilot announced that we had another hour before we would begin our decent to Sydney. I breathed a sigh of relief. My legs felt restless and stiff all at the same time and I felt as though I hadn’t slept in 24 hours (which was probably actually true…). We landed in Sydney and went through customs. The line was long, but we got through pretty quickly because they weren’t all that concerned about the dried mango and trail mix in my backpack. We were still rushing to the get to our next check in point because we wanted some time to walk around the Sydney Airport and stretch our legs before our last flight. As soon as we went to check in we were told that the bags we checked in LA to go to Perth, had to be picked up at Sydney and rechecked in to be sent to Perth. So, Kacy and I went all the way back to the baggage claim assistance people and waited for them to find our bags, then went back through the now enormous check in line, and dropped off our already checked in bags to the airline people. They told us then that our carry on roller bags were too large for our next domestic flight, so they would be checked (thankfully at no extra charge to us). Security was a breeze, and we were finally able to take a look at some of the stores on the way to our terminal.
We walked around, saw some cool shops, bought a sandwich to eat on the next plane, and settled in to wait to board. We still had a few minutes to spare so I reached in my bag for my GoPro, which I had purchased only a week prior to this trip.
Now mom, you may not want to read this next part.
I started getting frantic. I had been taking videos of the airport when we got there and snapped a picture of some adorable stuffed koala bears not 20 minutes ago. I retraced our steps to the place we bought the sandwiched, and the only place I had sat down. It wasn’t there. So Kacy went to the stores we had wandered through, asking if anyone had seen it and checking around as she went. Finally, I went to the check in table at our flight terminal and asked if anyone had turned in a GoPro. I swear I had tears in my eyes when that flight attendant handed it back to me. I swore to Kacy that I would buy a hand strap and label the bottom with my name and contact info as soon as we got settled. I placed it securely in my backpack and boarded the plane that would take us to Perth.
So here I am now in the isle seat with Kacy reading her kindle to my right at the window, plenty of leg space in the middle (the other person in our row never showed up-an uplifting bit of luck for us) and round two of mini bottles of Sauvignon blanc in hand. Perth, Australia- here we come!