Touchdown – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I was quite stressed in the days before I was to go home. I know that its pretty normal but I just kept thinking about all I was about to face. It has been two years since I have been home. I went back for a few days back in December but it was so short I blinked and I was already gone. This time I would have to deal with mounds of paperwork, inquisitive friends, expectant family, not to mention introducing my new beau to my world. I was so nervous that everyone would want a piece of me and that by the end there would be nothing left.

I remember back in the days when I could handle 500 things at once, infact I thrived on it. Now it scared me to death but one thing kept me sane from all those nasty ´What If’s’ that kept plaguing me…the fact that I had a ticket to leave again after a month. One month couldn’t kill me right? Wrong. It almost did but I live to tell about it. What an adventure! And looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. This story may be longwinded but it was so important to me…I don’t want to forget anything.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare so after checking in our saran wrapped (everyone here does it, I guess for extra security) luggage, we has last minute chitchat with the parents over lunch. We said our goodbyes at the gates and as we waited in the passport control I began to relax a bit. But not for long. Our first hiccup was when they sent us racing around the airport to sort out an immigration mistake. We were only 20 minutes from take off and would have been fine except that we ended up having to navigate long white vacant corridors at top speed. When we finally collapsed into our seats, were sweaty and out of breath but yay! We were on our way.

Max decided to have a beer to celebrate but he accidentally dumped half of it down my shirt when he was trying to cover me with the blanket. The worst part was that he didn’t even realize that he was doing it for about 5 seconds because he had his headphones on. I spent the next half hour washing out my shirt and bra in the tiny plane bathroom. Luckily I was wearing a padded bra or it might have soaked my pants too. Max was really sorry but could help giggling as I hung up my ‘laundry’ to dry on the seat in front of me. Rule one: No more alcohol.

We had a connection in Brasil where in the duty free shop we snacked on chocolate covered cookies from an oozing multi-tiered chocolate fountain. The next flight was long and horrible because I just couldn’t sleep. The Delta staff were horribly unhelpful and no matter what I tried I just couldn’t sleep. I even tried curling up on the floor but someone had their music turned up full blast. I even creeped over people, turning the volume on all the sleeping passengers in my vicinity (and the WHOLE plane was sleeping but me) but I couldn’t locate the culprit.

I was really grumpy by the time we landed in Atlanta so its really no surprise as to what happened next. We were being rushed through the customs line and ended up forgetting one (the one with all the money, cards and documents as well as everything valuable) of the bags. It took us about 20 minutes before we figured it out and then another 20 minutes while we got 5 different sets of instructions and directions on how to get it back. In the end, I finally had it with the incompetent airport staff and we went back to where we lost it. As we ran up to the security who were all standing around in a tight little bunch, they started cheering for us holding up our bag. YAY! We were so relieved and later we congratulated ourselves on working as a team and not ripping each other apart at such a stressful time. After all, I was tired and hungry and how easy it is to yell and blame to release all that fear and frustration.

We had an hour or so to wait for our next flight so I unraveled my sleeping bag and passed out on the floor by our gate. The next thing I remember, we were in Canada! I was overwhelmed as I stared out the window at my beautiful country on our decent. The tears stung my eyes and I couldn’t even talk. I just shook gently sobbing quietly as all these feelings hit me at once. I was excited, terrified, relieved, nervous, astonished and proud all in one moment.

Did I really travel around the world? Did I really have all those experiences? Did I really do all those crazy things? Somewhere inside of me I had the strange feeling I was watching a movie or reading a book and all in that moment I realized that no, I actually had lived it! To me this signified the end of my trip…I was going home.

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