In June 2018, Matt and I stuffed what we could into a 5 x 10 storage unit and sold the rest.
We said “see ya later” to our hometown, rented a Ford Fiesta and drove one-way from San Luis Obispo, California to LAX to hop on a plane with nothing but a couple of oversized backpacks.
Going back was an option. Just not a good one. The cleaning crew was already scrubbing the last specks of our existence out of the old apartment. Our mattress teetered between towers of boxes at Meathead Mini Storage.
For the first time in modern history, we hit only light traffic on the 405 and dropped the Fiesta off with Avis hours before our flight. While waiting for the airport shuttle, I looked down at my still-white Converse and thought, “this is home right now.” It’s a funny feeling to live where you stand.
My pondering was quickly interrupted by a cluster of impatient travelers who’d settled upon us, like the film that forms over unwanted potluck offerings. A couple women huffed about the lack of immediate shuttle service. “Six Enterprise shuttles and we’re still standing here!”
Within ten minutes, the first shuttle arrives and the cluster clamors past us, filling the metal container like sweaty sardines. We’re early so we shrug and wait for the next, which quickly overtakes the sardines as their crowded shuttle stops at every gate.
Check-in was a breeze. With nothing but time, we made our way to the air lounge and got a little buzzed on free whiskey and free beer. When our flight was delayed 40 minutes, we got a little more buzzed and ate garlic shishito peppers at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. (Our condolences to the old British guy next to us on the plane.)
Now boarding flight NZ2 to London Heathrow.
A cheerful Kiwi greets us at the bridge and ushers us toward row 50, where we settle in for a long night of being propelled through the sky in a stuffy tube. Ten hours, two questionable plane meals, and one Arnold Schwarzenegger movie later we’d completed the first—and longest—leg of our journey.
But not before an hour in the customs line and a quick pit stop at the SIM card vending machine. What a world we live in.
If this all sounds just a bit unenjoyable, it is. And it was. But the experience of traveling makes it tolerable. Stay tuned for stories of those experiences as we travel from London to Tokyo over the course of a year.
(Going back isn’t really an option, anymore.)