I’m home. I can’t believe it. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. Everything is so familiar yet none of this feels like mine. At least my body remembers where everything is and I haven’t knocked anything over or jammed my toes on anything while jet-laggedly fussing with stuff in the dark. As an added bonus, I get to write to you this morning with a soft, warm, purring animal in my lap. I’ll have to see what kind of moisturizer Ryder’s been using. The return home was a solid 25 hours of travel but everything went very smoothly despite my worrying that it wouldn’t. Let me tell you about it!
6:00 a.m. (12:00 a.m. Dallas time): Wake. Eat. Finish cleaning. Surf net. Finish packing. Taxi will be here around 8:15-8:20.
8:00 a.m.: Am worried about the cab arriving in time. There’s a specific train I need to catch out of Ede-Wageningen Station at 8:56 a.m. to get to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam at 10:00 a.m. which gets me there with 3 hours before the flight. I figure I’d better move all of my bags and myself outside so that my worry waves will not be dampened by the walls of the house. They need to be strong enough to reach the cab so that he knows how anxious I am.
8:20 a.m.: Cab isn’t here. Send worried text to Josien about it. She had originally arranged the cab for me and said to keep her posted. I thought I should share some of my worry with her. I’m generous like that. Worrying amplifies.
8:21 a.m. Cab arrives! My worrying worked! The driver is only 53 but he has 5 children and 3 grandchildren already. He told me about all of the famous sports players and TV show characters that his kids were named after and even managed to show me several baby pictures all while driving there! I really liked the guy in spite of all this.
8:45 a.m.: Arrive at the train station. Lug my two enormous, non-travel-friendly bags down the handicap ramp and up an elevator to my platform. I am not worried about the train, only worried about wrangling the luggage onto it, around people, and through aisles. Shouldn’t the train be here by now? Hmmm. Oh, there it is! Worrying works again!
Asked a girl on the platform if I could take a pic of her cool bag. The eyes are speakers!
8:56 a.m.: Ran down the platform a little ways to a less populated train car. Decided to just stand in the entry lobby of the car rather than drag the luggage up or down a short flight of stairs. There was a small number of people hanging in this area so I figured it was cool. At the first train stop I was glad to see another couple boarding with luggage but they got back off of the train after they spied something on the wall behind me and had a brief Dutch conversation about it. I had a sinking feeling as I turned to see what they were looking at. On the wall a sign read, “Lounge Area, First Class.” Oops. I didn’t pay for first class. I was worried. Screw it. I’m staying put. Maybe the train ticket agent won’t come through to check… oh, there he is now! Smile and try not to look American. He scanned my ticket and went on his merry way. TAKE THAT, DUTCH 1%! I got to experience your lavish ways without paying for it! UNH!
10:00 a.m.: Arrived at Schipol. Got a few Euros back on my local travel card (OV Chipcaart) and struggled a little to find where I should check in for my Icelandair flight. Employees weren’t terribly helpful here. Took me close to an hour just to find where I needed to go to check my luggage. It was a combination of walking, rearranging luggage, and misunderstanding signs that did me in. After getting through security I relaxed a little. I wanted to get rid of my last few Euros so I bought chocolate and a neon green luggage band, leaving myself a little money for lunch. My mood had been fluctuating from feeling happy about getting home to worrying about things that could go wrong that would prevent me from going home to feeling cranky about the actual travel. After all, I was looking at 25 hours of a taxi ride, train ride, luggage shuffling, three flights, security checks, layovers, and the drive home.
Feeling hungry with the crankiness prevailing I scouted a nearby deli for lunch. I wound up behind these two guys who I immediately identifed as douchey without them having spoken a single word. One was tall and skinny with a cap and a porn ‘stache and the other was tall, pink, and doughy and I just… I don’t know… hated his face. (Can you tell how hungry I am getting?) They were ham-handed in their movements and clueless in the way they approached getting a simple sandwich onto a tray. Like an aggressive driver behind a much slower person texting on their phone in the fast lane, I passed these guys flipping them a mental finger. I found a nice place to sit down and have a quiet lunch, or so I thought. The douches sat down right next me, I mean right next to me, and started having a loud douchey conversation about sports. I couldn’t understand what language they were speaking but it sounded like this, “HAHA YAH HARGGA BLARGGA BLAG BLAG BLAG (SPORTS PLAYER’S NAME) BLAGGA HOOGEN (ONOMATOPOEIA)!!! As an added bonus, the doughy one was talking with his mouth full. I quickly finished my meal and got out of there as fast as I could. I seriously considered a fart and dart but I didn’t actually execute it. I am a lady.
1:00 p.m. (7:00 a.m. Dallas time, 7 hours into the trip): Board plane to Iceland. Three hour flight. Watched Slow West, and the beginning of Baby Driver. Nothing much else to report.
3:10 p.m. Reykjavik time: Land. Smooth security. I didn’t get to see any of Iceland, unfortunately. It was foggy, rainy, and cold. This would be my only dinner opportunity unless I bought something on the plane so I got a chocolate covered muesli granola bar. I packed on some pounds eating all the damn interesting foreign food so I figured I’d stay light and healthy.
Took this pic for Ryder. It sounded like a word he’d enjoy. He did.
5:00 p.m. (Noon Dallas time, 12 hours into the trip): Board flight. Six hours. Finished Baby Driver. Already seen it, so I enjoyed watching it again. Watched LOTR Two Towers. Already seen it, so I enjoyed watching it again. I was seated next to an emergency exit and really appreciated the leg room.
I hadn’t worried about anything for a few hours so I figured it was time to start worrying again. When I booked my flights I was limited by my budget. Because of my schedule, my only choice home from New Jersey was the very last flight of the evening and it was scheduled to leave at 8:20, getting me home at 11:35. Eighty days complete! PROBLEM is… my flight from Iceland would be landing at 7:00. With a flight scheduled at 8:20 the boarding time would be closer to 7:45. My task, therefore, was to get off the plane, get through international security, get my luggage, get through international customs, hop on a tram in an airport I’d never been to (Newark, NJ), get to the United airlines baggage check desk in a different terminal to drop my enormous luggage, get through security, and make it all the way to the end of an airport wing to board my plane in 45 minutes. Had I even considered this when booking? No. The plane to Dallas was pushed back to a 9:00 departure time. Really good news for the possibility of me actually making the flight but guess what? That would put me into Dallas at 12:11 the next day, ruining my eighty day claim to fame. I worked it out in my head that technically I’d be over Dallas at 11:59 a.m. on Halloween and I had fully planned to justify it that way.
As soon as we landed and the taxiing slowed I turned on my phone and started making worried calls to United to tell them my situation and see if there was anything they could do. The first agent was nothing but confused and kept asking me the same questions over and over even though I had already explained my predicament multiple times. In the end, she seemed to think I’d have enough time to make it. This turned the volume of my worry down from 11 to about 8. Burst off the plane to international security. Barely a line. Joked with the agents so that I wouldn’t be selected for a random strip search and forced to hand over my phone and computer passwords. Made it.
Didn’t speed walk to baggage claim because I knew it would be awhile before my bags would turn up. I was at the mercy of an unknown team of bag slingers… from New Jersey. A whole hour passes since we landed and the luggage belt hadn’t started spinning yet. Worry was amped back up to 11. Another worried call to United and the guy on the phone had convinced me to try to file a claim for lost luggage with Icelandair and rush to catch my flight. My boarding time was 8:45 and I now had 45 minutes. Deciding to abandon my luggage in Newark, I was walking to customs when the belt started spinning. I took a chance and went back. My bags were among the first off! Sweet relief! My brand new neon green luggage band was missing though. Fucking TSA. Seriously.
International customs, nearly no line. Next, the tram. I missed one that had just left and whispered expletives but saw that the next one would be arriving in 60 seconds. Worry was definitely paying off! There was no line at the United check in desk and there was a kind man who took pity on my distressed state and guided me through an automatic bag check system. Were… were my bags actually just checked that easily?! Rush around to the next security point and get to the TSA precheck line just in time for a lady with a stereotypical New Jersey attitude to close the line right in front of me. She wouldn’t look me in the eye and wouldn’t budge even though I begged. This worried me. Ironically, the regular line was faster and the lady there was really nice. Made it to the very end of the wing with five minutes to spare until boarding. I couldn’t believe it. Can you? I was so worried! Weren’t you worried for me?
9:00 p.m. Jersey time (8:00 Dallas time, 20 hours into the trip): Take off on my final flight home. No one was seated next to me. Wrapped up in my neck pillow and tried to sleep. Did I sleep? Maybe. Felt like all I did was try to get comfortable. Do you know what our ace freaking pilot did though? See below…
I MADE IT IN 80 DAYS, BITCHES!
12:15 a.m.: Got my bags in no time and Ryder pulled up in my car! I hugged him tightly then we hit the road. We were both tired.
1:00 a.m. (25 hours total trip time): Home. Ryder has this waiting for me:
I ran back to him, cried, and held him in a long tight hug. I’m pretty sure Ryder’s going to stop buying me flowers because he sees things in such a logical manner: “Every time I buy Sue Anne flowers she cries. Sue Anne hates crying. I should stop buying Sue Anne flowers.” What he needs to figure out is the sweet spot between buying me flowers so infrequently that it turns into an intense emotional event that one would mark on a calendar and buying me flowers so frequently that my reaction becomes, “Seriously? Flowers again?” I love you honey. Thank you for thinking about me.
All of the pros and cons of being home are revealing themselves immediately.
- Dog that yaps at 7:00 a.m. every damn morning still hasn’t dropped dead from the waves of hate that emanate from my head with the power of the sun.
- The tap water tastes like cow dung and has to be filtered, soaked in a bucket of charcoal, exorcised, irradiated, unirradiated, filtered again, and approved by kittens before it’s remotely drinkable.
- I’m back to tolerating my shitty, shitty, AT&T internet. That’s right AT&T, you’re shitty.
- It smells like cold air and fireplaces in the the Texas country in the Fall.
- We have the use of a full-sized fridge where I can buy a shit-ton of perishables and let them rot because I can’t find them in the full-sized fridge.
- But mostly, RYDER (He comes first. He always does.), cats, car, our house, our shower, our bed.
So what’s next?! What should I do to celebrate my homecoming? Play Assassin’s Creed Origins all damn day? Unpack, organize, itemize, and label all of my travel booty? Cook 228 different kinds of soup? Remove everything from the house and put it all back in the house one thing at a time? Become Ryder’s living backpack until he decides it’s time to send me away for another 80 days? I simply cannot decide. Maybe I’ll spend six hours writing this blog post! And don’t worry, I’m not done blogging. I’m brainstorming clever names for the leftover posts from the trip. I love naming things in the same way that Terry Pratchett loves naming things and I’m having a blast coming up with ideas.
I love you all! Thank you SO MUCH for being a part of this eighty day journey with me. I’m going to hole up while I adjust to the time zone and then I’ll be out for visits!