Phase one: complete! I’m sitting at the gate at Sea-tac, waiting for my flight to board. I need it to be very on-time in order to make my connection, so cross your fingers.
Next stop: LAX, the black hole of an airport where there is no wifi, which is why I’m posting this now.
I decided at the last minute to not allow my family to accompany me to the airport and walk in with me. There were enough teary goodbyes as it was, and at least they were in the comfort of our own home. I knew it would be way too hard to watch their faces recede into the distance as I joined the queues of shoeless passengers awaiting TSA approval.
I arrived and tagged my own bags no problem, but when I came to the bag check counter and weighed my bag…53.4 pounds! Like a savvy traveler, I had checked the limits of both Alaska and Air Tahiti nui for their checked baggage limits (50 lbs), so as to avoid exorbitant fees…the main difficulty being that I have no way to weigh my bags at home. So I made everyone in our family lift it and opine about whether it was 50 lbs or less. So, as I stood and waited for the verdict I was simultaneously proud that it was only 3 lbs overweight and indignant that only 3 pounds constituted “overweight” and they wouldn’t just waive the three lbs for me…where’s my A for effort!?
For a harrowing 10 minutes, I waited as they searched the overweight limits and fees, contemplating the 0 options I had if I couldn’t take that much weight with me at this point, my mother having already left the airport at my request.
They redirected me to another window when searching for baggage fees became too time-consuming (and the lady behind me started sighing in exasperation). One of the agents walked me there and chatted with me ever so pleasantly about how stressful it is to hold up a line of impatient people. Reinvigorated by the empathetic customer service, I managed to remove three pounds from my bag and into my carry on, and was saved from paying $75. Victory! (Also, major kudos from me to myself for managing not to have an overweight bag for 9 months overseas! As a chronic over-packer, I consider this the success of a lifetime. My crowning achievement.)
Enter the security line. A little stressed by the time that had been lost in the Great Baggage Fee Search, I tried to refocus on my environment and noticed that the woman in front of me was wearing two fedoras. Ah, traveling. I started prepping myself the minute I moved on from the passport checker, and as I finally got to the conveyor belt my stuff was all neatly loaded into plastic bins. The stylish man behind me complimented me on my security elegance, apparently dazzled by how efficiently I had distributed my things (and as my housemates well know, I am not normally an efficient distributor of things). If I can arrange my life when I get to France as elegantly as I did those bins, I will be so good to go. New life goal.