4:45am - Your alarm rings. After 4 hours of sleep you feel surprisingly alert. It's transition day. Leaving the world you've known for 4 months behind and heading back to a world you've known your whole life. Emotions are a mixed bag of heartache and hope. But at this moment there is no time for dwelling. Your options are one: pack the rest of your few belongings, shower, eat a light breakfast, and hit the road within 45 minutes. 3 flights, 14 hours of airtime, and 19+ hours of total travel time are your future.
WRO - Airport #1; 7:15am: You say goodbye to your birthplace and what you'd like to consider your second home. It's just a short 90 minute flight to your first transfer destination.
MUC - Airport #2; 9:00am: You approach Passport Control knowing full well you've overstayed your Schengen visa by 45 days. You select the biggest, meanest looking border police and get in line. You hand over your passport hoping for a quick passage. So why select an unfriendly looking guard as opposed to a friendly one? First, let's face it, they all look unfriendly. Second, mean looking people never seem to be. You hope a combination of charm and acting ignorant of the situation will work in your favor. And you're correct. After a short line of questioning, the confused border police gives you a don't-let-it-happen-again wag of the finger and you're allowed to pass with no fines or detainment. Much better than when you entered the Schengen zone in Helsinki and were unnecessarily questioned at length regarding your plans in Europe.
You remember this city and its airport fondly from a previous experience that might have had something to do with a shower. You smile and move on to your next mission: food. Hoping for falafel, a common sight in this country, you settle in for a small green salad as well as a fruit salad, ringing in at a whopping total of 9.40€. You quickly realize this is the most expensive meal you've eaten all year. The benefits of staying in lower cost countries like India, Thailand, and Poland.
Now that you're fed it's time to get to your gate. You walk up to the gate attendant at 11:00am, 45 minutes before flight departure, and ask if any exit row is available. Usually at this stage you'd be far too late. Since you weren't able to use frequent flier miles to fly Business class for this particular trip due to varying factors, it's worth a shot trying to get Exit row. You never know if you don't ask.
"You're in luck sir, an exit row seat just opened up as we were talking. Good timing."
You respond with a big smile and a thank you, knowing full well there is no such thing as luck. No use getting into a philosophical discussion with the busy flight crew though. You take your freshly printed boarding pass, find an empty seat in the boarding area, toss on your headphones, and wait for the boarding announcements.
In the air: The long haul flight is comfortable but uneventful. Lufthansa is always a nice airline to fly and this time is no exception. The flight attendants are smiley, friendly, and make sure your vegan meal gets to your seat piping hot. You spend the flight watching bad movies, reading, writing, and fighting to stay awake so you don't have to deal with a sleepless night.
CLT - Airport #3; 3:45pm: You enter the USA and head to border control. After a line of questioning the man says "you'd make a good intelligence officer" and passes you through. What does that mean? Is he saying you're a good liar or maybe that you have a poker face? You decide not to overthink it because there are much more important matters at hand. It's time for a black bean burrito, sure to be found at any airport in the US. After a long walk to the far corners of the airport you find your drug of choice and settle in for a 70 minute wait for flight #3, the final flight of the day.
DTW - Airport #4; 8:20pm: You know this airport well, having spent 22 years in this city, but with recent renovations at the terminal it all feels new. You're greeted by family and hit the road for a short journey to your temporary two week home.
Home; 9:25pm: A sense of comfort comes over you as you enter your temporary home. It's now almost 24 hours since that alarm thousands of miles, 4 airports, and 3 countries away. The day is a blur. It's been an exhausting one, but the best days always are. Tomorrow, new adventures await.
Today's last adventure? zzzzzzzzzzzz ...
Programming note: this coming Monday, October 4, 2010 at 10:00am Eastern I'm launching my new eBook The Luxury of Less in what is sure to be "The Largest Minimalist Book Sale In History!" What I mean is, I've put together a 3 day sale where for just 1 small price you can pick up virtually every ebook on minimalism (or at least written by a minimalist) on the market. There are 13 people involved in this sale (including myself). My first 24 hours of profits will be sent to Third World entrepreneurs via Kiva.org. I have a small goal: send $2,000. This isn't an extravagant launch like How To Live Anywhere was, but you will get more information on Saturday and then again on Monday.
So please bear with me if this doesn't interest you at all. I have something outstanding (if I do say so myself) planned for you next Thursday.