I've been back for about 2 weeks now and I'm still getting adjusted.
The jet-lag coming back is infinitely worse than going there. I think a lot of it has to do with me just being bummed out about returning to real life and leaving one of my best friends in the whole world, but it could also have to do with the fact that my day started at 2 am on Sunday in Australia and didn't end until about 10 am Sunday in California. By that time, I had been awake roughly 27 hours with only a few 15-30 minute periods of sleep (Economy seats do not make for the best sleeping arrangements).
The trip was amazing.
The day before I left, The Husband and I ordered from my favorite Chinese fast food place and hung out. My fortune cookie was hilarious and creepy at the same time...
I read it and my first thought was "HOW DID IT KNOW?!"
Because, for real... how did it know that I was going to see someone I've known more than half my life that I consider to be one of my closest friends.
Creepy for sure. But totally awesome.
The next day, The Husband and I hung out all day watching football while also I finished packing. I made what was literally a last minute decision to switch to a smaller suitcase that likely paid off in the form of no overweight baggage fees. So yay for that.
We left the house around 4 pm to head up to LAX. I was getting increasingly nervous because I was about to do a 14 hour flight to another country alone and a little bummed out because The Husband was not coming with and I was going to miss him for 2 weeks. He knew how to cheer me up by making a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings before dropping me off at the airport. Well, that, and we had a TON of time to kill considering we hit virtually no traffic on the way up there. So bizarre for a Saturday in Southern California, but whatever.
We finished dinner and headed to the airport. As we were walking into the terminal, all I could say was "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh."
The Husband was like "Uhhh... what?"
"I'm going. I'm actually about to get on a plane to Australia."
That was also about the time when I started to panic. Because hey, flying is one of my biggest fears, and getting on a plane alone for 14 hours was a little daunting.
I checked in and said goodbye to The Husband and headed up to terminal. We got there 3 hours early because it's LAX and I was flying internationally.
I was checked in, through security, and sitting at the gate in less than 10 minutes. No exaggeration.
::cue utter boredom::
Finally, around 11 pm, the plane pulled up.
I was experiencing an odd combination of anxiety and excitement. Flying! Ahhh! Seeing my friend in person for the first time in over 3 years! Yay! Ahhh! Yay! Ahhh! Yay! Can I have some wine during boarding...?
So I get on the plane, settle in, and wait for take off and possibly my imminent death (I'm not even exaggerating. The crash scene from LOST replays in my head every single time I fly). I have been overseas before. I've been to Europe twice and did a choir trip to Hawaii my senior year of high school, but had never been on a 747.
A 747 is a big plane. And in my little, anxiety ridden head, way too big to get into the air, even though they do so every single day.
But guess what, we took off and stayed in the air. Who knew? And it was probably one of the best flights I've ever been on.
Can I just say? Qantas is awesome and I will choose them over any other airline any time I can. The service was absolutely some of the best I've experienced. Have you ever had good airplane food? I have. 4 separate times between 3 flights with Qantas. The flight crew is so nice and are willing and able to do whatever they can to make you happy. I felt like royalty even though I was sitting in economy class. You have your own in seat entertainment with a ton of movies, TV shows, radio stations and games. And it's all free. I probably spent a good 4 hours on my return flight playing solitaire Did I mention that the alcohol is also free? I'll have another bottle of sparking wine, please and thank you! Seriously awesome.
We were about 2 and a half hours from landing in Brisbane and I started to get antsy.
I had managed to get some sleep and it was now breakfast time so they began waking up everyone gently with the cabin lights. When I opened my window, this is what I saw. Beautiful.
I ate breakfast and then began taking about 50 more shots like this and of my screen with the map and "ETA" on it because I almost couldn't handle waiting any longer. I did a lap around the plane, went and splashed some water on my face and prepared to land.
At about 10 to 7 am, we landed in Brisbane. I had survived my first solo international flight!
I trudged off the plane, because despite my excitement, I had just flown for 14 hours and desperately needed a little sleep and a shower. I grabbed my suitcase, which was of course one of the last off of the carousel because I was one of the first people to check in, cleared customs, and then went to wait to be picked up. Which was also about the same time I realized that I really should have considered adding international service to my cell phone because we did not plan pick up well at all. Ha! I got a tweet from BFF once I was able to get the barely functioning wifi at the Brisbane airport to work that she had left about 2 hours ago (I was staying with her and her family about 3 hours north). But I still had no idea if she was parking and coming in, if she was just going to drive by and pick me up, and if so, what was she driving...? Like I said, we did not plan this well at all. And I couldn't get the wifi to work for more than 1 minute at a time, so even when I tried to iMessage her, it wouldn't work.
After walking in and out of the airport for about 45 minutes trying to get service, I decided to just wait outside at the curb when I heard someone call my name. I turned around and there she was! She grabbed me and hugged me before I really knew what was happening, but it was fine with me. She gives good hugs. That's probably the one and only time I was grateful to be so exhausted, because I probably would have turned into a big, crying mess had I been a little more rested and aware of what was happening.
We hauled my bags to the car and drove to where I would call home for the next 10 days.
I spent most of my time working on stuff for grad school, relaxing on the couch, the beach, going for walks around the property (usually only with BFF because they have snakes there and I'm afraid of snakes... and well... most animals in Australia are probably willing and ready to kill you at any time, so I like to keep a buddy with me), doing family things with the boys (Have you ever hung out with kids with Australian accents? That's a surefire way to melt your heart and these three boys stole mine for sure...), who are absolutely ginormous compared to the last time I saw them (Their oldest is my height. He's going to be 11... I've known him since he was born. This freaks me out immensely), catching up with BFF, shopping, playing Uno, watching Real Housewives late at night after the boys went to bed... Just being on vacation and having absolutely no obligations or plans.
I mean, look...
That's me throwing another shrimp on the barbie my second day in Australia. (Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, it was steak, but still!) That happened.
Me and my beautiful best friend at the beach.
I love the beaches in Australia. I got to see 4 different ones... They were all amazing. Beautiful.
I got brave and decided to try a local food... BFF asked me if I wanted to try it, I said sure, since I'm in Australia, and I should try something unique to the country and she was totally unsuccessful in getting me to try a meat pie (Omg. Gag).
I spread it on a cracker, plugged my nose, and shoved the whole thing in my mouth to the horror of BFF who then screamed "You put the whole thing in your mouth?!"
And here I am with a mouthful of cracker and Promite trying to ask "What?! Was I not supposed to do that?!"
I choked it down, grabbed some water and laughed for a bit while she explained that I probably should have taken a small bite first. That likely would have been wise, but hey, go big or go home, right? And I might consider a meat pie the next time I'm there... It has to be a little less traumatic than the Promite incident.
Get this: they even managed to
drag take me to church without me kicking or screaming. Which I guess isn't surprising considering BFF and her Husband were my youth pastors once upon a time...
My second week rolled around and I was just trying to be in the moment, but all I could think about was how quickly this trip was going. And I was in no way ready to go home and face real life and all the things waiting for me. Because trust me, there is a lot happening here and it's exhausting and exciting, but scary all at the same time.
So on the 26th, the day before I was set to leave, I woke up and texted The Husband. I told him that I was so sad to be leaving already. And he asked me if I wanted to stay a little longer. I told him yes and he said to change my flight.
I brought it up to BFF and she was like "Do it."
So I got online and this is what happened...
Flight change! Staying until Sunday! Just three more days, but I so needed those three days. If I didn't have a job, there's a slight chance I might still be there. Or at least would have tried to stay another week. Heh.
The last couple of days I was there, BFF decided it was as good a time as ever to learn how to drive on the left side of the road. So a few miles from home, she pulled over and made me drive.
I was terrified. And I kept having to remind myself "LEFT!"Also... the blinker and wiper handles are on the wrong sides. So anytime I tried to turn on the blinker, I would turn on the windshield wipers.
But hey! We survived! See? Safe in the driveway. Another thing off of my bucket list! Kind of. I only made left hand turns. I might try driving for real next time.
That was my last day there. We had just come back from a day out for lunch and shopping. And soon after this, full on panic ensued as I had not even started to pack and I now had a ton of new stuff to try to get in my bag.
Somehow, I managed to get everything into my bag without too much chaos and only a minor freak out. We all hung out that night and BFF's husband "cooked" dinner (Dominos in Australia is surprisingly delicious compared to America's Dominos). I got ready for bed and decided to "sleep" on the couch before we left at an ungodly hour in the morning. The only bad thing about my flight change was that my first flight now left at 6:30 in the morning instead of 10:30. Which meant that we had to get up at 2 in the morning so that I could get all checked in and ready to go in enough time.
We got to the airport and I was a wreck already. Totally not ready to face real life and all that's happening in it, exhausted, and definitely not ready to say goodbye to BFF. We get my bags out, and hike to the terminal, only to be told that this flight was delayed and they moved me onto another flight out of the domestic terminal so I would make my connection in enough time (Qantas had called, but since I didn't have service, I didn't get the voicemail until I landed in LA. Next time, I give them a local number. Ha!). The gate attendant told me where I needed to go and what I needed to do, but when he told me about the delay and the gate change, that just stressed me out that much more and I still to this day don't remember what he said to me because I was in a haze. Thank God BFF was there, because while I was being a ridiculous mess, she was my rock and totally took care of me. We hauled all my stuff back to the car, drove about a mile up the road, parked again, dragged all my stuff to the counter and again, she handled everything for me while I stumbled around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do while fighting off a possible panic attack.
I won't get into the details of the goodbye, but I'll say this: it was rough for me. Probably in my top three worst. Right in between The Husband's deployments. His first deployment, this, his second deployment. For real. It's hard having someone like that so far from you. FaceTime is awesome, but it only accomplishes so much, especially when you need a good hug. I'm getting totally cheesy, but she's one of my closest friends, can read me like a book, and always knows how to encourage me when I really need it. I can be real with her and I know that she still loves me. She's beautiful inside and out and incredibly strong. She's one of the rocks in my life, and I am so grateful that I was able to spend 2 weeks with her and her family. I can't wait until I can see them all again.
But anyway... Back to reality! I got on the plane, had a little stop over in Sydney (which was kind of cool, but it would have been much better had I been able to leave the airport. I might do a weekend there next time), and headed back to America on another stellar Qantas flight. I landed at LAX around 7 am and walked back out into reality.
So I'm back in the States, but I cannot wait to go back to OZ. Hopefully sooner, rather than later. Pin It Now!