It was still dark when we drove up to the airport. Fortunately the sky was clear, offering a final glimpse of the constellations that are exclusive to that half of the Earth. There was a new moon out, but if there is any significance in that, it's being read into too much.
Saying bye at the airport was tough. There were things I wanted to say but couldn't mouth the words at the time. Walking through the security check knowing my family was only metres away, yet seemingly worlds apart was when everything began to come together. For the last few weeks I had um'd and ah'd about going away for a year, but once I was through that first security check there was no turning back.
I was absolutely exhausted by the time I was on the plane. I'd managed about 6 hours sleep over the last 2 nights and managed to move house and party in that time. Sitting in economy hardly presents opportunities for sleep, and this was to be no different.
Sure I didn't get much sleep, but I managed to catch some episodes of Mad Men, Californication, a Stephen Hawking doco and two films, Kick-Ass and The Fantastic Mr Fox in. I remember reading The Fantastic Mr Fox in Mrs Thomas' class in 1995. The film was great, it cured my grumpiness and even played my favourite Stones song.
Feeling completely run down, I then had to get through US customs. Last time it took nearly 3 hours to get through the line and that was without a visa. When I was eventually called to the counter it was brought to my attention that I didn't have a requisite form. Oops. It was stapled to my passport when I received my visa and I either threw it away/recycled it/left it in Wollongong.
There was talk of delaying my entry to the US and a $400 fee for a new form. Screw all the emotional reservations, this seemingly careless act became the biggest threat to my trip. The customers officers were really good about everything, joking around, offering food tips and giving the fellow fuckups some juiceboxes. After about an hour of waiting with other panicked travellers I was let into the country with the fee waived. I still have to jump through a few more bureaucratic hoops, but I'm here and in one piece.
I was convinced to take a shuttle to the hostel by a guy outside the airport. We ended up chatting for a while and he pointed me in the direction of a bunch of record stores, flea markets and gigs that are around Hollywood. Brilliant fella. Once on the shuttle I had to deal with a driver with a bit of a death-wish.
The driver only spoke once, pointing out the site of Michael Jackson's grave. Significant I guess.
Once I got to the hostel they discovered that I didn't have a booking. Some clerical error was blamed the staff here were absolute sweethearts about everything. I was allowed to check in early, grabbing a much needed shower and began to finally feel human again.
Now it's just about mid-day on the Sunday. I'm still absolutely zonked, but despite my best efforts to make a mess of my visa and booking, things are looking up. The sun is out, there's a Dr Pepper in my hand and I'm back in hostels for the first time in 2.5 years.
*** The song for this post is Matt and Kim's Daylight. I love this clip so much. The shuttle bus guy gave me a gig guide and I saw that these guys are playing here in a month. Obviously I'll miss that, but I'm going to make it a goal this year to see them live.