The last few weeks have been a bit of a mad rush.
On December 10th I received an email letting me know a decision had been made regarding my visa application but of course not giving any clue as to what that decision might be. On December 14th I got my passport back with the entry visa inside it and a letter telling me the entry stamp was valid for 30 days. Great news! Except the 30 days started November 27th, meaning I had less than two weeks to give notice, get my plane ticket, and fly out.
Christmas is not the ideal time to travel in a rush but a quick google suggested that attempting to correct this alarming error was risky and could be expensive so I found a plane ticket for the 22nd out of LAX and packed my bags!
In spite of the rushed timeline things worked out pretty damned great, my work was aware of the situation so were very understanding and got me my last check processed just in time. Our company holiday dinner doubled as a goodbye party and the next day was my last so some of us hung out and finished off a bottle of wine which a grateful customer had dropped off. This left me with one full day free to pack everything, clean out my room, cuddle the cats, and hang out with Palle for some Flash and Arrow binge-watching.
The next day was Saturday. Palle and I packed my suitcases into his car and we drove to San Jose to celebrate Mette’s birthday. Again the timing worked perfectly, I would have hated to rush off without saying goodbye and this was the perfect way to leave the Bay Area. The evening started with an awesome burger at Cafe Stritch followed by a Psychi donut and Comedysportz. Afterwards we headed back to the house for Cards Against Whomanity and (in my case) mixing too many liquors. I did not cover myself in glory on either front but had a great time and managed not to end up hungover despite certainly deserving to be.
I had planned to catch a bus or train south but Leigh Ann was having none of that and declared we would have one last road trip to send me off. We stopped at Casa de Fruta, as you do, then drove listening to the requisite Indigo Girls and Greek Suite, arriving at my sister’s house in Santa Monica on Sunday right as the sun set. I’m going to miss those drives but at least I have a playlist to remind me of them when I’m feeling nostalgic.
Sunday I just chilled with Ashley, we had a drink with Leigh Ann before she took off back to the Bay Area then watched the latest Almodovar (very silly) and had some of the marionerry pie from Casa de Fruta. Monday I finally went to see Star Wars with Andres and Isabella, I loved it and managed to enter the theatre almost entirely unspoiled. On the way home I bought a second suitcase and repacked my stuff so I wouldn’t have to leave much behind (I still left a pile of books for family members to bring when they visit). That night Raul came to Santa Monica and along with Ashley we went to see the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters, which was silly, raunchy fun. We finished the evening with some beers and conversation.
That was my last night in the US but next morning we fit in a short visit to see Pat, Rebecca, and Alma. Rebecca seemed to enjoy showing us all of her books and we hung out for about an hour before piling into Pat’s car and heading at last to the airport.
The new international terminal at LAX is much better than I remember it being and I got through check in and security with an hour to spare before boarding. Norwegian is a budget airline but very civilized and friendly so my flight was as pleasant as one can really expect a transatlantic economy ride to be, especially since Ashley managed to get me an aisle seat instead of middle. I arrived to a cold and rainy England on December 23rd just in time for the Coxon family Christmas!