How To Come Home From an International Vacation

**Note: I wrote this for a Fiction Writing class in 2013. I rediscovered it on my Google Drive today and thought I would share it. Not a traditional blog post, this fictional story draws vaguely on personal experience. Maybe I’ll share that sometime. 🙂 ❤ enjoy!

How To Come Home From an International Vacation

First you have to tear yourself away from wherever you are that required a stamp on your passport. Make peace with the fact that you have to leave wherever you were just wandering. Make peace with the fact that you have to return home to monotony and a depleted bank account. Board your plane and settle between two overweight Europeans who don’t speak a word of English. Thank God for melatonin, take a pill and prepare to sleep through the eight hour red eye flight.

Wake up three hours into the flight. Fidget. Wake the guy to your left with your leg shaking. Apologize even though you’re sure he thinks you’re a spoiled American, so know that your apology only goes so far. Close your eyes and daydream about where you had just been, and try not to think about that sandwich you got from the cart on the street that was the best sandwich of your life as you eat that awful airplane food. Poke at a questionable meatball. Cover that meatball with your napkin and try not to make a disgusted face so you don’t offend the flamboyant flight attendant, even though you’re sure he knows the food is awful, too.

The time will pass slowly. Do your best not to lose your sanity. Your friends will pass you on the way to the restroom, but aside from eye contact and a weak smile, they won’t acknowledge you. They’re just as weary as you are, and these eight hours are a break from being so close for the past week. Now you know why you value your alone time so much.

Finally, exit your jet on solid, American soil. Check your connecting flight ticket. Realize your gate is on the opposite side of the giant airport where you just arrived. Realize if you don’t run, you’re going to miss it. Rally your friends, who will tell you to chill out. Relax. Breathe. You’ve got time. The thing is, you know you’re right. You don’t have time, not really, and if you don’t run and run fast you’re going to miss it. Roll your eyes when your friends turn their backs. Practice your I-told-you-so face when they aren’t looking.

Get in line at domestic security and have a bad case of deja vu. You just did this over in Europe nine hours ago. Where does TSA think you acquired a weapon since then? Feel bad for being angry, but be angry anyway. Wish, for the millionth time, that September 11th didn’t happen. Stop being angry when you see the American flag. Feel a sense of pride swell in your gut at being American, even though you just spent the past week trying to convince other people you aren’t.

Check your watch obsessively. As time seems to move faster, the line moves slower. When you finally get to the front of the line, take off your shoes to walk through the metal detector. Pretend not to notice when the TSA agent snickers at your mismatched socks–you’d like to see him try and find a matching pair after the week you just had. Slip your shoes back on. Resist the urge to yell at your best friend who wanted to keep her over three ounce water bottle and insisted on wearing her lace up knee high boots that are fabulous in all the ways they aren’t practical.

Get through security with your entire group intact, minus your best friend’s water bottle. Run.

Run like your life depends on it. You have three minutes. Realize you’re about ten minutes by a combination of tram and running from your gate. Run faster.

Get there four minutes after your flight pulled away from the gate. Through the window, you can see the plane waiting on the runway. If you had it in you and you wouldn’t be marked as a terrorist, you could run to get it. You’re sure of it. Snap at your best friend for her ridiculous shoes. Apologize when she walks off crying and you realize the stress is hurting everyone. Give her a hug, tell her you love her and her shoes, then figure out a way to get home.

Try and remain calm when the gate attendant tells you there’s another flight to Providence… tomorrow. There’s another problem–there are only five seats left on this flight, and there are six of you. Picture spending the night in the terminal and decide you need to get the hell out of there, now. Ask yourself why you ever said “I love traveling!” when in reality, traveling sucks. Arriving in one piece on time with all your luggage is what you really love; being there is even better. Fantasize for a minute about teleportation and ask yourself why it doesn’t exist yet.

Convince the gate attendant to switch your ticket to a flight leaving in an hour, but to Hartford, Connecticut, a good few hours from where you originally wanted to end up. Say goodbye to your friends, who are debating between roughing it or getting a hotel. Ditch them. Proceed to your new gate with your new boarding pass in hand. Arrive in Hartford and greet your mother, who left the house as soon as you called to come get you. Decide you won’t tell your friends she called you “baby” and let you finally get some sleep the whole way home.

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