When I looked out of the window as our plane was flying over America, I saw this new, strange horizon. And felt simultaneously lost and home.
Finally, our 13-hour flight from Sydney took off on Tuesday. Just before it did, the pilot announced "Sorry folks, we are having a few circuit problems in the cockpit."
Which is obviously all that filled my mind for, oh, 13 hours. Every dip, piece of turbulence, every shudder. Every time the seatbelt light came on, I braced for the crash. I asked hon, "Hon, you know in the Road Runner cartoons? When Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff for a while and is hanging there in the air, holding up a sign saying HELP and then plummets? This is what flying feels like for me. It's just not natural."
Dave asks me do I ever give myself a break - no, I don't. I'm Kevin in Parenthood, freaking about his lost retainer. The more I grow up the more I realise how my anxiety has been a constant my entire life.
Finally, I called the stewardess over and point-blank asked her:
"Oh hi. Are there still circuit problems in the cockpit? Did the pilot notice a problem and just say, stuff it, and he took off anyway, and now he's going to kill all the people?"
I actually said that to her. Dave almost went purple. She's all, ma'am, it's fine. Can I get you a drink to calm your nerves?
Now THAT would have been a really bad idea.
We landed in San Francisco, sans flowers in our hair. We had time to kill ..... eight frickin' hours, actually. Got talking to a local and she told us to catch the BART into town. So we did, jet-lagged, crumbly, bone-weary.
It was like toy-town - everything is a prop and nothing looks real. Here's Dave next to the Golden Gate bridge .... it didn't seem very golden though. Maybe it was just my frame of mind.
We passed a growers market! Thay have those back in Australia too. All the people and colours and sounds, all new. We were delirious, trying to prop each other up.
Back at SFO airport, Dave and I had a stupid tiff - I wanted to buy a bottle of water but he wanted to walk straight to the gate. I stopped to buy water so he walked off in a huff. Then we both lay down on the seats, spread out, sleeping. I did not care by this stage ..... most other travellers looked alert, perky. We were not.
Five hour flight to JFK airport - man it felt long. We had been travelling for three days straight by then, so over it, second-guessing the whole trip. How could I leave my boys? (I have a whole nailbiting post brewing on THAT.)
We get off the plane, get our bags - no transfer ready. That's ok. It's 1'o'clock in the morning by this stage. A big tall scary dude pushed forward and told us he'd take us. So we went with him - Dave went to get into the drivers side of the car. The guy drives like a maniac, I'm in the back, suddenly realising we're not even in a proper taxi. Just some random dude who talks like he's on speed - talking about how humans have fucked up this planet and we're going to have to go live on another one.
He and Dave talk cars for a while, I'm looking at all the cars and noise and buildings, FREAKING. Trying to read the road signs, for when the cops ask us after our robbery.
But he didn't rob us! And we drove through Times Square ..... oh holy Arkansas Toto. Like the lights of Kings Cross in Sydney, magnified by 1000.
Finally we were at our hotel. Walked in .... and checked in. Oh, we WOULD have checked in, but they had overbooked. We had prepaid almost 2 months ago. It was now 2am in the morning. I said to the guy, "Are you fucking serious??"
There were a lot of other people stranded, just standing there. I was pretty much done, now. So pissed. He could tell - Dave told me it was ok, I said, no, no it's not ok, it's fucking atrocious. The manager HID from me while this poor guy gave me taxi money and a voucher for another hotel.
I stormed out and cried and cried so hard. Cried in the cab, and I cried checking in to our other hotel. It was 3am, I REEKED of B.O. by this stage. I think I'll throw my top out, so embedded is that smell.
It had all been a huge mistake, the Gods were against us, and I just wanted to go home. There was no food available ..... Dave went straight to sleep but I raged on twitter for a while, cracking open some Tim Tams for dinner. Or breakfast. Angrily. I rang my travel agent back in Oz and fumed, nicely.
Then Dave and I slept for ten hours straight, the cleaner woke us up knocking on the door at 12pm. Kicking us out.
Cab back to first hotel ...... who were falling over themselves to help us. By this stage we'd had no food - not even water. I almost fainted, Dave was so white. Reminded me of when he was on chemo. We came up to our room and drank tap water. Is that safe? Went down to Dean and Deluca .... America, no offence but I need to show you how to make a decent coffee. I don't drink, smoke, or take drugs .... but my God I need proper coffee. One that is roasted and ground and made with care - not filtered or french-pressed or whatever the hell you guys do with it.
Sat there in a daze, looking at all the traffic. It is like we have climbed into our television sets into New York. All the streets are like a movie set - even the shitty little alleyways. People are quick and loud. And so direct! No pussy-footing around, just snappy and to-the-point. I love it. I absolutely love the hell out of it all. I think. Hold me.
Saw this truck, it said "Time. Moving and Storage." Felt like he was moving and storing Time itself. Wouldn't surprise me .... nothing would surprise me in this city.
Dave, in our proper hotel room. Finally!
It was so hard to get here ... so hard.
It took me 38 years.
I packed four formal dresses, some undies, and a bra. I'm going on the Kodak bus tour tomorrow, and then the Martha Stewart party. Have no idea why I got invited to these, or how to get to any of the places, or what Dave will do. We both need to reclaim our mojo, surrender to it all.
I'll be blogging my way through it ... I can't wait to meet some other bloggers. It will be like a big One Eyed Stamp Collectors of the World Convention ...... except there's no One Eyed Stamp Collectors, only bloggers. I have never met another blogger in the flesh before. I'm strangely not worried about meeting new people at BlogHer this weekend ... probably because bloggers are the best kinds of people.
It is 6pm right now .... we are on our way out to buy the biggest steak. Or burger .... some hunk of meat, anyway. Before we do that, I need to buy a completely new outfit. And some laxatives. And tweezers ..... three days of travelling and I have the chin of Chewbacca.