The rest of my waiting hours were spent conversing with the two intelligent women, and after a few hours, we all went our separate ways.
My trip from Shanghai to Los Angeles was a long one – almost 14 hours – non-stop. However, the plane was bigger, more spacious, and much more comfortable; there were 6 rows and dozens of columns of wider, soft-padded chairs that made me realize it was a big real plane; the ones I have imagined in my dreams.
The services were better and the food tastier. All of the announcements were in English and there were various entertainment options I could choose from.
I had fun watching the popular Avenger’s movie Endgame, and I was able to listen to some Backstreet Boys’ music. They were my favorite band before I fell into the BTS rabbit hole.
And yes, I know exactly how to buckle and unbuckle my seat belt by then. Traveling, indeed, is a great learning experience.
I had navigated the “complex’ console in front of me as well, and had properly used the small folding table, when food was served. I felt contented.
Traveling comes with small but essential lessons.
I tried searching for anything BTS from the list of music and movies, but – unluckily, there was none. I was thinking of informing the staff later to include anything BTS in their list, but I have forgotten, as my eyes grew heavy and I fell into a restless sleep.
I had a window seat too and I had to shut down my window as we crossed the transcontinental timeline and the day merged into another day (not night) in another continent.
The trip was uneventful. One trip to the john had me almost thrown out of the bathroom, when the plane did a lurch in an air turbulence. The warning was given out, but nature couldn’t wait.
I had laughed as I imagined myself being thrown out of the john – still with my underwear down.
That would be hilarious!
The rest of the trip was uneventful, and I arrived at the LAX international airport after more than 13 hours in the air.
I felt lightheaded and dizzy. So this was what they call jet lag, I thought.
As soon as my feet touched ground, I tried contacting my sister, as she would fetch me from the airport. But, I wasn’t able to connect because my phone wasn’t working. When I needed it the most, it failed me.
I started to get panic attacks again, because it was my first time in LA and I knew nothing about the place. Conquering my shyness I requested a friendly face if I could use her phone.
She obliged willingly and I was able to contact my sister. I went through customs twice as I declared the bag of mango with me, and they had to go over my backpack.
I didn’t know if it was part of their work, but not one of the airport personnel was smiling. It was as if they just wanted the queue to be done quickly, so they can go home.
I felt let down, was this The America – the land of democracy and liberty, the land of milk and honey, that I had imagined when I was a kid? It seemed cold and unfriendly to me.
At one instance, I wasn’t able to control myself. “Are you angry?” I asked the young man who was telling us to hurry up and input our personal info into the computer.
There were dozens of computers and each passenger was asked to process the information the computer was asking.
When it was my turn, I knew I had to ask for assistance. “How do I insert my passport?” I asked.
The young man rushed to my rescue and said, unsmiling: “This way.”
I was dismayed, couldn’t he smile? So, I asked, “Are you mad at me?”
And surprise of surprises, he finally smiled, and patted my back, “No, I’m not.”
I felt a little bit relieved as he left me to answer the questions that flashed on my monitor.
At least there was one who smiled, I muttered.
The uniformed “police” at the terminal were unfriendly as well, “How many months will you be staying?”
“2 months,” I replied.
“What’s your purpose in coming to the states?”
“To visit my relatives,” I replied, unsmiling as well.
Perhaps, smiles are precious commodities in the states that are hard to come by, I concluded.
The next officer went over my passport and instructed me to proceed downstairs.
“Why do I have to go downstairs?” I asked.
“Just go,” he barked at me. “You will know when you get there.”
Oh, well, you don’t have to be so rude, I whispered in my language; afraid that he might hear it and detain me further.
So, this is California, what a miserable place, I mused.
However, as soon as I came out of the arrival area and saw my gorgeous sister, Marilyn, all my anxiety and stress disappeared.
We embraced warmly as the wonderful Californian weather greeted us.
Wow! The weather was great and the surroundings clean and refreshing.
The sun was out but the temperature was just right for me.
I didn’t sweat. That was new to me, as I usually sweat a lot back in my country.
We updated each other about family news as she brought me to a hotel where I would stay for the night.
“Rest here for today, and I’ll get you to meet the family tomorrow,” she said.
When my sister left, I felt so jet-lagged that I stayed in bed the whole day, but when evening came, I stayed awake all night.
I laughed at myself because I tried looking for something BTS on the room’s TV console but found none.
What did I expect? This was America. I expected to see the boys at least on billboards, newsstands and on TV, but alas, I found nothing.
To be continued.,.
If you haven’t read Part 1 and 2, here are the links: