Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ciao Italia, Ciao America

Wednesday, March 30th- check.
5:30 a.m. -check.
Annoying ipod alarm- check.
It was my takeoff morning and I was up. I wasn't tired, but excited and yet sad at the same time. I was on my way home! But first- leave keys on counter, tiptoe down 4 flights of stairs with 50 pounds of luggage, and walk the 1 mile to the train station, but not leaving without my LAST cappuccino in Italy! Ah! It was so good.
I boarded the train and tried capturing every moment I had left of my trip. The odd looking Roman trees on hillsides- which I adore, the way the sun rose over hazy clouds everywhere, the way Trenitalia arrived late at the airport (it has an amazingly good record of being late everywhere, the airport is no exception)....
 I found myself getting around the airport quiet easily, since about 10 people warned me it was confusing and to get there super early. I took their advice, but I, by no means, was lost or confused.
Did I say I had my last cappuccino at the train station? Wrong, I had it at the airport...I almost forgot about that one! I made one last stop at the cafe in my terminal, among stores like Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, a little more than classy airport shops.
10 hours, 4 movies, and 2 meals later I get to Atlanta. 15 minutes late that is....I started mildly panicking before the plane hit the ground and thought of ways of how I can get to the front of the plane as fast as possible. We were supposed to get there at 3:45 pm. It was about 4:00 and my flight to Portland left at 5:05...that is definitely not enough time, especially when a) you need to go through customs, b) you need to pick up your bag, c) you need to declare your goods d) re-check your bag and e) go through security.

4:15- in line for customs, begging people to let me cut in line. Thanks and God bless. Sprinting to pick bag up, only to wait for it to even arrive at baggage claim.
4:30- in line to drop off declaration list, begging to be let through with an even more desperate look on my face.
4:34- dropping off my checked back and sprinting to security.
4:37- As I'm taking off my shoes and placing my carry-on and purse on the x-ray scanner belt, I realize I have things in my bag that I can't take with me. The bottle of balsamic vinegar cream and maroni butter I bought in Rome, duty-free at that, were both over 3.5 ounces. Ooops. I totally forgot in the rush of everything! Now I'm really screwed.
4:39- security guy, a short, sweet Mexican man with glasses pulls me over to the side opens up my purse and tells me like 3 times I have to throw these away. I tell him I don't want to, I paid for them, and I'm not leaving without them. I told him what time my plane left and he had "you're NOT going to catch that plane" look on his face. How reassuring!
Him, " Hurry up, get your carry-on and follow me," he said in an agitated, stressed out voice.
Me, "Okay, okay!" in a panicky tone, following him back through the beeping human scanner thing.
We ran to the check baggage counter, he told me to throw these items in my carry-on then go back to him at security. I stuffed the bottles in my bag, told the guy behind the counter to make sure it gets on the plane. He was giving me a "uuuh I don't know about that" look, and I wasn't gonna have it. So I prayed.
4:48- back in the security line, I went in front of everyone else in line, made eye contact with my man, threw my shoes off and purse in the x-ray machine, as onlookers wondered what the heck was going on.  I thanked my security man liked I've never thanked anybody, he was so sweet! I hurried to put my shoes on as he gave me directions to my gate.
4:50- I sprinted, through crowds, down escalators to a huge hallway where I would catch an underground subway in the airport that will take me from gates E to B. It came just in time, I had a little bit of relief knowing I was on my way. B came, I got off ran again past everyone, including someone laughing at me (I distinctly heard a "HAHA" directed at me) up 2 flights of escalators and another 1/2 mile or so to gate B23.
5:01- No one was at the gate besides one lady behind the counter. "You on this flight?" she asked.
Hell yes I am!! And here's my ticket, it scanned and off the ramp I went. I arrived on the panting, sweating, and met 70 sets of eyes, curiously looking at me. Found my seat next to a cute old couple and I was there. I sat and recovered for 30 minutes or so as our plane took off. I made it. THANK GOD. I made it.
5 hours later, I landed in Portland, OR. I was home.