So, back in the States again. Back to life in the South; humid weather, sweet tea, beach life, and that accent that you can’t find anywhere else. Already the beginning of April and I can tell it’s going to be a hot summer. It feels a bit like summer already, but as I know how hot it gets, I’m prepared for more extreme heat to come in the following weeks.
Even when I was connecting flights in Atlanta, I could feel the heat as I stepped off the plane. Switzerland’s mild spring is no more. Welcome to Georgia!
Getting back home was quite an ordeal, but I’m not one to complain too much and I know there’s plenty of other people who’ve had far worse or more tiresome experiences. I had a very pleasant flight with Swiss Airlines – the food was awesome and my seat was comfortable enough to where I could rest and fall asleep. I was approached by a flight attendant not long afterwards and gave me greetings from my friend, who was with Swiss Airlines, and gave me a handbag and some headphones. It was the nicest gesture and I was so happy. (And he spoke to me in German^^ )
I left Switzerland early Saturday morning and arrived in New York at JFK at noon on the dot. My connecting flight was to leave at 7:50pm that evening. It gave me more than enough time to eat, use the bathroom, etc. After getting through the border control (this makes the second time they’ve neglected stamping my passport for re-entry), I wandered around the airport for the next few hours. My arms were killing me – I was dragging a small carry-on and my big check-in luggage which weighed a billion pounds. On top of that, I had my backpack, which was also beginning to weigh down on my shoulders and back. There was hardly anywhere to sit so I walked in a diner to grab a bite to eat… and of course, to relieve my arms, back and shoulders.
I ordered a burger and fries which was expensive as heck, and they didn’t have any sweet tea so I asked for carbonated water. When I finally got the receipt I noted they’d given me sierra mist. Not quite the same. I sat there for at least an hour and a half, and ended up chatting with this guy from India. Then I moved along, paid my dues, left and ascended up the escalator to the second floor. I slumped against a wall next to a huge window where I had a view of the passing train or shuttle tram, which came about every 5 minutes or so.
It was about 2pm or so.
Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored…
I got my phone out, stuck in my ear buds and listened to some music off Spotify. It wasn’t too long after that a man walked up and sat in the same area, greeting me with a friendly hello, how are you. He laughed when I answered ‘bored’ and said the same. His flight was also a few hours away, though not quite so far as mine. We had a nice friendly chat and it helped pass the time. He ended up being from Ghana originally and told me that was where he was flying to, for his sister lived over there with her family. He hadn’t been in over 2 years so he was pretty excited. He seemed interested that I was flying from Switzerland and asked what I had been doing over there.
“I guess you could say I was kind of like an aupair or something, but really, I know this family already. For me, it was visiting and reconnecting with old friends again.”
He admired that and thought it was very cool.
After about an hour, he had to go to catch his flight. It was fine with me, for my grandma had called and so I called her back and chatted with my grandparents and sister for a little while. I let them know I was fine and that I’d see them at 10:20 that night. When it became close between 5:30 and 6, I went through customs again, which is always a drag I might add, and headed to my gate. It was delayed. I would be arriving at my destination at 1:15am. I had to call my sister back and let her know the deal.
Within a few hours, my flight was completely cancelled and had to be rebooked. This was around 9:30. According to the woman behind the desk, I would have to get a hotel and rental car, come back to the airport early the next morning to fly out to Boston (not Jacksonville, Florida) at 7am.
“Yes, you will have to change flights twice. From Boston, you will fly out to Atlanta and from there to Jacksonville.”
I went blank for a second and then took the ticket and receipt. As the guy before me had, I asked about the hotel and food, etc, whether or not it was covered.
In Switzerland they would have covered EVERYTHING.
I wandered to a chair and did a quick mental calculation. Hotel. Car. Food. That would cost money. Money I didn’t really have. And to catch my flight on time I’d have to be at the airport around 5am. I didn’t know my way around New York City, especially at night, and the hotels are probably super expensive anyway.
So I spent the night at the airport.
It ended up being pretty quiet and I was able to catch a few cat naps.
The next morning I fly out to Boston, and immediately from there, boarded my next flight to Atlanta. I had more time in this airport and was able to buy a snack and write some people back via text. I didn’t realize, however, that I was in the wrong concourse (D instead of B) and had to really hustle it to make it on time. I probably looked ridiculous running and cutting through people with my huge green coat on and luggage trailing behind me. I was out of breath by the time I arrived at my correct gate. They were just beginning to board. Whew.
On the plane, I caught a couple more catnaps before landing. Right before we landed I got to talking with the guy next to me. He was the second person that day to a: ask if I was originally from Switzerland, and b: conclude that my accent changed due to being in Switzerland.
Over the past 3 years or so, since I’ve made my first trip to Switzerland and have been learning German, time and time again, I’ve been told that my accent has changed gradually.
It must be reeeeeeeal gradual for I myself have not noticed it.
Anyway, I always laugh about it, because it’s no offence to me and I find it all rather amusing.
I exited the plane; it was good to be back in the Jacksonville Airport. It’s so quiet, clean and pretty, and I just really love it.
My excitement grew as I wondered over to the place where I come out into the main plaza. I saw my sister from a far, waiting in anticipation and caught sight of my grandparents. I did my best to run (it was half-running, half-walking) while my sister ran up to me in excitement and threw her arms around me. We both gave each other the biggest hug, laughing in spite of ourselves. We were so happy to see each other again. I gave each of the grandparents a big hug and we were all chatting away as we went to collect my luggage and headed out to the car.
It felt surreal in a way, riding in the car with them once again, driving on the Georgia Interstate headed home. The sky was clear and the trees were green… and it was very flat. I found myself trying to imagine Swiss Alps or rolling green hills surrounding the roads. Yes, I guess it is pretty flat here. I never noticed it before like I did that day.
We rolled into the driveway and got my things unloaded. We were all bustled about and talking and happy. I was so glad to be at my destination and out of the airports and repeated the story to them again of what happened. 36 hours of flying and airports. We laughed and joked about it.
I had gone to bed at 5pm that day and was up the next morning at 2:30 wide awake. I haven’t suffered jetlag to be honest. More or less, I just become tired between 7:30-8:30pm and have to go to bed, but I’m awake very early in the morning.
So far, life is good. I’ve unpacked and have visited my parents and the rest of my family already and will do so again this coming weekend. Lots have changed since I’ve been away, and yet… how much has not changed. Everything is still the same.
I look forward to enjoying the summer, yet I feel an unexplained anxiousness which I can’t completely comprehend. It is a feeling that doesn’t leave and I find myself obsessing over it. Just an unsettled feeling that pounds in my head and I don’t wish to dwell too much upon it…
And I’m already trying to figure out how to get back over there ❤