The Return, Part II

mardi, le vignt-quatre juin, le dernier (17e) jour du voyage

I'm sure I was awake for at least the first hour of this day, but I don't really know as I wasn't looking at the time at all. It would have been very depressing indeed to keep track of the time on Monday, as I'm sure you've read. (If you haven't, I'm disappointed, although I do understand...) Anyways, after I got out of the shower, Niles had fallen asleep with the TV on, which was turned on to a London flugtag event. I'd seen flugtag before, but I hadn't known what it was called nor realized that it was actually a popular thing. I saw several entries and then decided to go to bed, but I couldn't find the remote control. This wouldn't be much of a problem for pretty much all other TV's in the world, but this TV couldn't be turned off without the remote, and I just couldn't find it anywhere. I decided I'd have to fall asleep with the TV on, but I couldn't turn the volume down either. After a few minutes I realized it really wasn't going to work for me, and I searched again. Finally I found the remote tucked in between Niles' arm and shirtless side, and I carefully pried it out, turned off the danged British TV, and then promptly went to bed.

I woke up to Niles sleepily but urgently telling me that it was 8:00 and I had to wake up. The day before, we had been told we would be picked up from the hotel at 8:30. This was bad, and in response I believe I said something to the effect of "dang" or "crap," but then I said "no it's not" for some reason or another (I don't know why; I was half asleep), and I was right. Although he was not awake at all either, Niles realized his mistake and said "oh yeah... my watch is on France time." We had an hour and a half. I think I may have gone back to sleep for a bit while Niles took a shower. We were both totally packed, and we saw no reason for us to get breakfast and be ready to go any time before 8:15. Eventually I got down to breakfast, which was a pretty good buffet. There was much more fruit available than at and of our petit dejeuners in France; in fact I can remember very few hotels that had fresh fruit for breakfast. Maybe it's that limey thing with the British... or maybe it's the fact that we were at, as I said, perhaps the best hotel I've ever been to in my life.

Around 8:15 we had our bags and were ready to go. So were a lot of other people- people who had already been lined up outside the hotel. We learned later that people had been given different times to get picked up, and that some may have been off to the airport even as early as 7:00. Being last the day before, we had logically ended up being with the last group- but I'm getting ahead of myself. Soon after we got outside, a big bus came by for terminal 4 and picked up a third of the people. In retrospect, British airways probably thought they were done with busing those pesky people from flight 49. We had already cost them enough, hadn't we? After that first bus, many more buses came by, never picking up many people and never more than a small bit full, but all heading for terminals other than the one that everyone waiting in the sun was going to. After a long time, a bus much smaller than the first came by and loaded up. No surprise, we were not able to get on. About half an hour later, that same bus came back and the rest of us squeezed ourselves onto it. I had my luggage on my lap and a few people had to stand. It had taken more than an hour and a half to get to the airport, and we now had less than an hour before the flight left.

There were of course quite a few others with us who had to get to the same flight, so we weren't all that worried about getting to it. But it was still less than an hour before the flight and we still had to check our bags and get tickets- and that kind of time at the airport is worrying in any situation. We were near the front of our pack, but the ticketing guy took quite a while, considering what a special situation our flight had been. Then the surprise came once we got our tickets; we were pointed to a special security check that was "by invitation only." Needless to say, we sped through security and actually arrived just before boarding started.

The flight to Seattle was actually very enjoyable. I took a little nap at first but then took the rest of the nine hour journey to watch four movies. They were National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Bruce Almighty, Sweeny Todd and Ocean's 11. Sweeny Todd was surprisingly good and was certainly the best out of the rest, which were all pretty run-of-the-mill. Sweeny Todd was very unique, and the plot and music were very good. My only problem with it was its aesthetics, but of course that was one of the main things that helped it to be so unique. Admittedly, I don't think it would have been as good if everything looked realistic, because obviously the story wasn't realistic. Still, I have problems with over-the-top makeup artists.

I also saw Greenland for the first time, which was amazing, and there really weren't any problems on the flight. When we arrived at SeaTac, though, I was struck with a euphoria far beyond being without problems. It's absolutely amazing how much returning from a foreign country can make you appreciate your own. That time in SeaTac Airport I felt more "proud to be an American" than I ever have in my life. I'm not even entirely sure why. I had little if any such sentiment after returning from being in Japan for three weeks three summers ago, and I believe this reflects how much my thinking and my self has changed in content and character.

I am not a patriotic person. In fact, I despise patriotism, nationalism, and all other creeds that place people above others because of their origin. And yet, perhaps I can only pretend to despise those things. Is it not natural to love one's home, one's hometown and one's homeland more than those in other lands? I love my life, and my life is home-grown product of the U. S. of A., whether it's normal or not. How can I not love and appreciate my country? I believe this trip to France really knocked into my head the fact that a nation is not its government. It's idiotic and immature to degrade a country because of its politics, and that's what I've done many a time to my own country. A country is its people and culture. It is through those things that one should love other countries and it is through those things that I, being an American person and being culturally American, must naturally love my own country.

It's not that France was disappointing to me. In fact, I was never homesick but for one or two moments, and that certainly wasn't for things that are generally American. My great rush of patriotism had almost everything to do with coming back into contact with people whose language and background were my own- people who I could simply understand. There were a few other things as well, little points of comparison in which the U.S. is better than France, but the U.S. isn't better than France. It's just that one is my home, and one is not. The train rides and security we had to go through were pretty annoying, but my newfound euphoria had put me in such a mood that I was had not a negative thought in my mind and I was entirely ready to talk and be polite to any stranger I met. After all, we were back in the land of English! American English.

Once we got to the N gates I got a Swiss everything bagel with cream cheese from the American Bagel Factory, which was very good. Apparently they have two locations in SeaTac now. Good for them! My food buying also was a reminder that we were back in the land of the cheap. I had half a mind to go buy some Starbucks, but my mom just shared her chai tea with me instead. Then we boarded our cute little Alaska Airlines 737 which never filled up, even though there were a couple more waves of people who came after we got on. I was on the aisle with an interesting guy by the window who I talked to for a while. He told me about his going to a lot of different places, which was very cool, despite the fact a lot of it tied in with the military. Then I started doing the crossword in the Alaska Airlines magazine, which was actually a very weird thing to do, since I've never done more than a couple lines in a crossword beyond crosswords in school. Niles came up from his seat in back and we had a couple laughs with Laura who was across the aisle. Then... we arrived home.

Once we got out of all those high white clouds in the upper atmosphere, it was all a wonderful gray field of clouds below us. Going up that cold ramp was refreshing... it was perhaps the coldest I'd been since leaving. Waiting for us on the other side of the glass were my dad, sister, and uncle as well as Bekah's parents and Laura's mom. We said our goodbyes to each other and I got my bag and went out into the pouring rain. Unfortunately, there was a smoker in line for the ferry, which seemed a cruel irony after coming home to the land of healthy air. Regardless, we packed onto the ferry and coming home at last was a great thing indeed. I unpacked a bit and then had dinner at my grandparents'. I went home pretty shortly and in short order went to bed. It's truly great to be home now, but as you'll now see, going to France was a great experience as well.

Comments

  1. Hey, what hotel did you stay at??? When I was stuck in London, we stayed at a Chancery Court, which was a reeeeeeeeeally great hotel. But you already know that story....
    btw- i'm watching the world cup now because of you. It is so bloody. & turkey lost!!!!!

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  2. We stayed at the Park Inn, which was very nice and very huge. Now that I'm home I can't watch football... but I guess that's the way things go.

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  3. A country is its people and culture. It is through those things that one should love other countries and it is through those things that I, being an American person and being culturally American, must naturally love my own country.

    --Watch for "The True Patriot" by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer--who say, "Patriotism, as an idea, has been co-opted over the course of a generation by right-wingers who use the flag not as a symbol of transcendent national unity, but as a cudgel against the hippies, Francophiles, free-lovers and tree-huggers who constitute their caricature of the American left."

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