I arrived at the airport just before 10:00 am and was told I needed to first stop at the Immigration Office. Unfortunately, despite all my sweet talk and eyelash batting, the woman at the desk refused to back down, and I was forced to pay $100 for my lost Alien Registration Card. Strike 1. Then, I went to the check-in counter and discovered that I had to pay $135 to check a third bag (I swear the woman on the phone said $35!!). At that point I was so tired and ready to get out of the country that I did not use common sense (which would have been to toss out some clothes and get everything into two bags) and instead paid the ridiculously high fee. Strike 2.
Finally, I boarded my plane for Tokyo at 11:00 am, and we took off at 11:30. Again, I miraculously managed to stay awake for the short flight. After departing the plane in Tokyo, I had to wait for a shuttle bus to take me to a different terminal. I then had the brilliant idea of plugging my Dell MP3 player into an outlet to charge while I waited. Eventually the bus arrived, I was swept to a new terminal, and as I was about to board my flight to the States, I realized that I was sans MP3. @#$#(&$!!! Strike 3….and I wasn’t even out of Asia yet!
The rest of the trip went without much of a hitch. I got a sweet bulkhead/exit row window seat on my long flight home, got to watch “The Island” on my personal movie screen 1 1/2 times too many, and we even arrived in Atlanta early. Oh, and I think I took about a two-hour nap as well! Flying into Atlanta, I felt a sense of pride and joy rush over me, but after about 20 minutes in the airport, I was already starting to miss Korea. Of course, I instantly realized how much I had missed the southern charm and friendliness, but the grating accents, obesity, and Tommy Hilfiger, khaki pants, and big hair that surrounded me were almost too much to handle.
I later settled into my final flight of the day on a teeny tiny plane with no working toilet. As expected, we had a late take-off. Finally, at 8:00 pm, approximately 26 hours after I began my long trip home with that first taxi ride, I arrived in Valdosta, GA (and it was still Monday!!!). I excitedly greeted my parents, and, per my request, we went to the Cracker Barrel, a southern-style restaurant with amazing biscuits and strong coffee. After dinner, we headed home to their house nestled in the woods of North Florida, and after a marathon chat with my dad, I finally snuggled into bed at 2:00 am….about 52 hours after climbing out of bed from my last real sleep Sunday morning.