Monday, I flew for the first time in more than a year. It was only to Charlotte, North Carolina with a layover in Atlanta, Georgia but I found myself nervous. Really nervous. Insanely nervous.
And I didn’t know why.
My suitcases weren’t anywhere near the limit. No immigration check. And I have done layovers almost every flight. I didn’t get it.
And after the T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) check, my nervousness got worse. Why?
Then I found myself thinking about my last flight — the one from Korea.
Now that one had me nervous. Really nervous. Near-panic-attack nervous.
I didn’t even sleep the night before. I was so afraid something was going to go wrong and then I would have to go back to Dongtan and continue teaching.
Once I landed in Washington (after a layover in Japan), I couldn’t get to immigration fast enough. If I passed that last checkpoint, I was golden. It felt like a finish line and that stamp was my prize.
The immigration officer was unamused by my enthusiasm. But he stamped my passport, which lifted all that anxiety off me. The figment chasing me couldn’t get passed immigration. And that figment was big and ominous. I blame Narita Airport.
I got pulled aside because of my backpack. I couldn’t blame them — with all the various electronics and cords — it probably looked suspicious in that X-ray machine. But the man only scoffed at my Gameboy Color (I was trying to catch them all) before giving my backpack back. But before I could even put it on, another security officer pulled me aside again to ask me a bunch of questions. I honestly think he was just wondering why I was carrying to empty Coke bottles in my backpack (good think both of my other bags were checked or he would have seen the other 5). It took less than 10 minutes for the whole basically-nothing ordeal, but it cranked my anxiety to super high.
But all of that panicky feeling disappeared in Washington…or so I thought. Three days later, I am still flabbergasted on why I had so much anxiety coming to Charlotte.
Anyhoo, though I am training for a new job, I will have time to sightsee and shoot some of one of the fast-growing U.S. cities. So be prepared!