I met James and Tracy for my last breakfast down under: cereal and muffins.
Tracy was staying a few extra days on her own, so we said our goodbyes (and wrote a post card to Marc Okrand) and James took me to the airport.
SYD is setup differently than any other airport I have observed.
Instead of letting each airline have a permenent presence, they set-up shop just long enough to take care of business at any one of the identical ticket counters available.
So, three hours before my flight, I watched the Chinese airline take down their cardboard flight attendant, and United put up their signs.
Not armed, I made it through customes without a problem.
I had a random pizza, and picked up some final souvenirs.
Including a boomerang and a didgeridoo. Apparently wooden weapons and heavy, blunt objects are allowed.
During my 13 hour flight back to LA, I discovered thw the port for my headphones was busted.
Without sound, I didn't feel the need to watch any movies.
Going through US customs at LAX was a breeze. And oddly, instead of keeping us in the airport, we ended up outside.
When I realized that I was about to exit the building, a rush of emotion washed over me; I was in California.
I was home.
I slowly stepped into the Californian air, taking in everything.
And then I saw it: sunshine. I saw the California sunshine on the other side of the road.
I couldn't resist.
I made my wa across the street and out of the shadows.
The light spilt over the buildings and onto my face. Oh! It was glorious.
It felt so good to be home. To feel the sun. To see the palm trees.
I wanted to stay. It was painful to leave. I had to rip myself away and force my body back inside the airport.
Standing in queue for security (again), it felt cruel to trap us inside, denying us the sensations just beyond the wall.
These thoughts were soon replaced by the realization that I could find Dr Pepper.
And eventually, I found some. At McDonald's... Um, sure.
That's all I purchased.
A few gate changes and slight departure delays later, I was on my way to Chicago.
With a working port, I plugged into the planes music stations.
The first few songs were quite appropriate.
An in-flight movie later, and I was almost home.
Starving, I found food and Dr Pepper.
And I finally figured out how to get a mobile boarding pass.
So for my last flight, I handed my Prē to the gate agent, she scanned it, and I boarded the plane.
The flight was only 30 minutes, not even enough for a drink service.
Which was fine by me. I was ready to be done with planes.
IND was almost empty when we arrived. And my bags were almost the first ones to show up.
My wife picked me up out front, and we went home.