Getting into the United States via customs was quite the ordeal. The lines we had to wait in were tremendously long and moved at a snails pace. Julie was so busy texting for the first time in two and a half weeks that she hardly noticed, but Dad, a man of far too many words and no patience was very verbal about his distaste for the situation.Some jems from the hour we spent trying to get through customs:
Dad: “It shouldn’t take me this long to get into the country I am a citizen of! I’m not a terrorist just let me in already!”
Dad: “This is like being back at Safeway, they have 18 registers but only four people working. Isn’t it great to be back in the United States? This would never happen in Fiji, nobody cares about blowing that place up, they’re too busy smoking dope.”
Dad: “Allah allah ackbar! Osama Jihad!”
Mom: Michael! Shut Up!
Dad: ” I was trying to get us through the line faster”
Mom: “You’re going to get us detained! I want to get home! ”
Dad: ” We are home! This is America now, I was BORN IN THE USA!”
Julie: “Do you have any original thoughts that aren’t Bruce Springstein lyrics?
Me: “doubtful, highly doubtful”
After finally making it through border control we had to collect our bags only to then re deposit them on a conveyer belt no more than 100 feet away from the one we pulled them off of, so they would make it onto the next flight. Then we had to find our way through the labyrinth that is LAX to the American Airlines check-in desk so we could get our boarding passes for our last flight. It was around eleven in the morning as we were doing this, and our DC flight didn’t leave till 10 pm. Thankfully, Dads childhood friend Pete lives in LA and had agreed to pick us up at the airport so we wouldn’t be stuck sitting in LAX all day. After we had our flight all squared away we met up with him and he took us to a hotel where they he had very graciously gotten us a room so we could shower and change. Julie and I thought this to be the greatest miracle of mercy. Even though I was zonked not having slept hardly at all for a good 24 hours at this point, I was also quite hungry, so Pete and his family took us out to this little Japanese restaurant in LA for a real meal. Since this was the first time Julie or I had been to LA Mom suggested we do a little sightseeing after having eaten. Pete suggested that we take a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier. Even though it was an 85+ degree day, once the sun starting to go down the temperature dropped to be in the 60s and Julie and I started shivering in our shorts and t-shirts. Julie and I were perplexed. Having lived in the muggy swamp of northern Virginia where it consistently feels like you are inside someone’s mouth every time you walk outside from late May to mid September, we were confused at the notion that one could feel chilly after sundown. You mean to tell me that in other places of the world it actually gets cold when the sun is no longer shining? BIZARRE!
We watched the sun set over the pacific ocean on 19th of July twice. Once in Fiji, and then we flew back in time and saw it set again in California. Having now been up for almost a day and a half by the time we got off the Santa Monica pier Julie and I wanted nothing more than to get some sleep. We asked to be taken back to the hotel so we could sleep and Mom and Dad went out with Pete and his wife for a drink. I was so sleep deprived at this point that as soon as I found myself on a horizontal surface I passed the hell out and I have no memory of anything that happened after that. At some point I was woken up and we somehow ended up on another plane, but my memory of this is foggy at best. I only got maybe two hours of sleep in the hotel which was not enough to make up the deficit of sleep I had incurred in the last two days. We boarded our DC bound flight at 10 pm and I think they showed a movie, but I was in such a state it felt like my body was producing LSD naturally, so maybe I just imagined that I watched animated brightly colored talking birds. I can’t say I remember either way.
Even though I was exhausted and my brain was desperate for some shut down time, I couldn’t get comfortable on the flight with the two screaming babies sitting in front of me and a seat that didn’t recline far enough. Luckily I had a window seat so I watched the lights of middle America pass underneath until the sun rose, which was magnificent to behold.
We landed around 7 am and I had never been so happy to be at Dulles Airport in my short young life as I was when we got off that plane. We picked up our bags and made our way outside to find that we had picked the perfect time to come home, we were in the middle of a heatwave! Good ole Virginia in July. Good to know some things never change. Our next door neighbor was there to pick us up when we got outside, so we loaded up our luggage and began the final leg of our trans global journey home. On our way home from the airport we had to take 66 to get to the parkway, so in a 24 hour period we saw both ends of route 66 without seeing any of the middle.
Once we finally made it home I was completely drained of all energy, but somehow managed to unpack all three suitcases I had, and shower before crashing hardcore into a deep and restful sleep, finally at home and in my purple room in my purple bed. Life was good and it was good to be home.