January 22, 2007

Providence

Obviously we made it home in (at least) one piece, given that I'm writing to you now. I have so many stories from the trip home. I'll try not to bore you.

The day started off at Sarah and Jono's place, where neither Liz nor I had slept a wink. Whether this had something to do with anticipation or perhaps just sleeping in a new place, I'm not sure, but we started the day quite tired. After multiple panick attacks about our luggage weight (nearly every bag was over the limit by at least a kilo, and three bags were over by 7 kilos each), I finally got around to printing our visa again (which I later discovered I didn't need to print), finalizing our packing, and turning off my laptop (which, for some reason, had decided that now was the best time to install its updates, taking a decent fifteen minutes to install stuff before it would allow me to turn it off).

Liz had to call Telstra to cancel our mobile phone accounts while we were still in the country. She'd called several weeks ago to be sure of what to do to get it taken care of efficiently and with as little hassle as possible. It's a good thing she did that, because the answer they gave us upon calling today was completely different. Yes, we can cancel now. No, we can't send your bill overseas. Oh, you're moving to America? That's nice. You can call us if you want to pay your bill by credit card. Will your Melbourne address still be working?

I've never seen Liz get so pissed off at a customer service rep before. Don't mess with the pregnant lady, I guess. Eventually we worked it out, both of us exceedingly frazzled by this point. After our final checks, Gavin took us to the airport in Sarah's 4x4, into which our luggage barely fit. Here are the numbers:

6 suitcases, three over 30 kilos each
1 tenor saxaphone
1 guitar
2 backpacks
1 didgeridoo
1 SLR Camera in Hard case
2 panicked and over-tired americans
1 preoccupied aussie driving two panicked and over-tired americans

On the way to the airport, Gavin and I got into a discussion about the muslim religion. It seems that our discussion got a little too involved, because all of a sudden, we were driving into a traffic circle that was under construction. We looked around, a bit unsure as to why the road had just ended, as a construction foreman ran over waving his arms in our direction. He noted the four separate signs at regular intervals all mentioning the lack of road (and presence of road work) ahead, and the marked detour back a few hundred meters, if we'd just turn around and get our of his pile of dirt thank you very much. Actually, I think he was more amused by the fact that we suddenly had no clue where we were than anything. We followed the detour to the airport, where we unloaded our luggage.

Now, remember how tired and frustrated we already are. We load up three trollies with our baggage, and muscle them into the immense line that's forming behind the international ticket counters. Annette and the kids decided to come to the airport to send us off (this after they've spent three weeks in China - thanks guys!), so they kept us company for the lengthy period of time we waited. Upon arriving at the ticket counter, the guy - I can't remember his name - asked about our baggage, were we aware that only two pieces were the usual free baggage allowance, etc. We knew the drill - Liz had called ahead to ask about this too - and were ... mostly ... confident that we'd be ok.

Then he said "so you know that some of your bags are considerably overweight, right?" My heart dropped into my stomach; I'm thinking 'oh no, he's going to make us take 21 kilos out of our bags and charge us for five extra pieces of luggage.' As I'm thinking this, he says something about paying $70 extra. My first thought is "in addition to paying for each extra bag." Liz and I exchange a panicked glance before protesting that no, the rules said something else! And he looks really confused suddenly, like we should be thanking him. And then he says "ah, right, $70 is not a lot for four extra bags that are overweight."

Suddenly I'm floating; we're not going to have to pay with our firstborn to get home!!! The day suddenly seemed a bit better, happier somehow, less of a chore. We both say "ohhh!! thank you!" as he mentions that we probably shouldn't mention how many bags we have to the lady we have to pay at the next counter. I've racked my brain trying to decide why in the world he gave us that sort of discount. At this point, all I can do is thank God - and the very kind ticket agent whose name I can't remember - for sparing us.

Later, when we'd made it to customs in LA, we were once again waived through without paying duties. Life is good.

The second cool thing that happened today was the guy that sat in our row on the trip from Melbourne to LA. His name is Dave, he's a musician/guitar-player/recording engineer, and he worked at Urban Seed for a few years. I kid you not. Apparently, he was involved with Urban Seed towards the beginning, when the residency program was first being formed. It was his idea (he says) to plant a flag symbolizing the re-taking of Victoria by people who didn't want gambling at the opening of the big Casino (story for another time, remind me if I forget), a story I've heard from Marcus (who we both know) several times. He left Urban Seed a while back and hasn't really been since then; it was a fascinating conversation after that. We talked theology, praxis, protesting (turns out we agree quite a bit on that one), and many other things. Later, the conversation found its way to computers (Liz tuned out at this point). Did you know that Bill Gates was involved with the start of Apple computers? He was one of a few twenty-somethings who started the company (especially the programming side of things), after which he left and started microsoft. Also, that in Dave's experience, Apple computers crash every day for no apparent reason? He loathes that the recording industry uses almost exclusively macs now. It made me happy.

It's been a long trip home. We've flown over the Rocky mountains, over the patchwork of fields that is the midwest, over cities and mountains and barren deserts, and over streams and rivers on our journey home. It's time to re-orient ourselves again, to American money, accents, measurements, roads, and temperatures. That's right - it was 100F again in Melbourne yesterday, and it's much - MUCH - colder in upstate NY: 15F when we walked up the jetway. But I'm not complaining. We're home with family eating good food and celebrating a good year behind us, looking forward to the coming year with anticipation.

3 comments:

Priscilla said...

As I said on Sunday at church, "Welcome home!"

Michael said...

WELCOME HOME!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm Steve Woszniak and Jobs don't seem to mention Bill being part of Apple at any stage in the company, programming or not. He may have been in one or two of the same computer geek clubs but definately did not have a part of the Apple coding.

Sorry to disappoint you.