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philly, coffee, + l.a.

The journey started at 3:00am on June 25th. My alarm clock screeched through the silent house, causing me to come out of a sleepless daze. The day before was hectic. I am a procrastinator at heart, but I prided myself on getting things all packed up a day early! Well… er… mostly. There were loose ends that needed to be tied up like printing boarding passes, travel insurance, and signing up for air miles…what is that? I should take this time to mention that I’ve never been on a plane by myself before. My mom knew everything, and I just tagged along, doing whatever she ordered. So in the midst of packing up my carry on, and cleaning the house, my stomach kept churning with dreadful thoughts. Philadelphia International is a large airport and I’m actually going to think for myself at 5am to figure out how to get to my gate. What if I missed my flight? What if I messed up the security procedures? Or what if my incredibly large, overly stuffed suitcase ended up being 51 pounds?

Needless to say, I didn’t get a full nights rest before I had to get up and get ready. Although it’s a very typical traveling procedure, it’s annoying nonetheless. The night before, I had to leave out my laptop, camera, and phone to be charged; my toiletries to be utilized; and the book I was reading, etc., to then have to rush around, trying to find room in either my carry on or my suitcase that looked ready regurgitate my pajamas. What a pain… And you know what I forgot? Toothpaste.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. After packing up, grabbing some coffee, and saying goodbye to my puppies, I managed to perk up a lot in the car. There’s something I’ve always loved about being in the car. I look out the window, and picture myself in an opening sequence of a movie. Just thinking, pondering, hemming and hawing about life’s potential instead of the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s of everyday life. As my dad drove down Street Road, we seldom talked out of fatigue (although, we said enough to talk about the adventures I’ll embark upon). During this time of silence except for the soft music being breathed by the radio, I looked out the window as we drove on the open road. In the distance I could see the Philadelphia skyline. As it quickly approached, my heart fluttered to an aching desire. There, in that city and every city, laid potential and opportunities for me to grad hold to. This journey to California… this journey is only the beginning.

The next hour went by quickly; it was much faster than I anticipated. Before I knew it, my dad was helping me unload my bags at the curb of the airport. He gave me a hug, a pat on the back, and I walked through the electric sliding doors. The thought of it was spiritual, the parting of the sea for Moses, and I was on cloud nine.

That sensation only lasted a second until I realized that I walked through the gates of Hell. In front of me were dozens (if not a hundred) check in counters. Even though I was dropped off in front of the American Airlines terminal, it was deserted at this early hour. All the counters were closed, and I panicked as I walked past dozens of counters… and some more… until alas! A couple terminals down, I found civilization huddled in a massive long line. Huh, self- check- in. What is this nonsense? When a kiosk opened up, I stepped forward, and tried to scan my boarding pass like the directions instructed, but it didn’t work. So, I had to do it the old fashioned way, which took much longer (and it printed out a boarding pass for me EVEN THOUGH I had done so in advance).

Nonsense. Anarchy. Are you kidding me?

Let me just explain something here, there was a lady working at the bag check (clearly) that was attached to the kiosk. As my suave, eighteen year old, technology efficient self fumbled at figuring out the kiosk (along with everyone else around me), the lady did nothing. I don’t get it! Why did I have to check myself in when someone working there could do it really quickly? Ugh. I get cranky at five in the morning. On the bright side, my suitcase was EXACTLY 50 pounds, and I felt victorious.

I channeled my inner Harry Potter, as though I had just completed the first task in the Triwizard Tournament. The second task? Security.

This is what I was most nervous about. Not necessarily because of the “horror stories,” but because of the hassle. Take my shoes and jacket off. Put all of my stuff in a bin. Step through the scanner. Mentally check that I didn’t forget to take the scissors out of my cosmetic bag. Step out of the scanner. Have the grumpy workers tell me that I can grab my stuff. Shove everything back in my bag, and attempt to slip my converse back on and fail miserably.

Well, at least I got through it. And… there was a plus side! I actually read the signs, worked my way back to that original terminal, and found my gate with ease. Do you want to hear what’s even better? There was a coffee stand and I got an energizing red- eye. Triwizard Champ, right here.

My flight was on time and departed at 7:23am ET, and was scheduled to arrive at LAX for 10:20am PST. It was the world’s longest flight, and in the scheme of things, a five-hour flight is nothing. When I first boarded, I was ready to go. I had energy, an awesome playlist on my outdated iPod, and I had a window seat. Holla.

Unfortunately, I was seated next to an annoying twenty-something- year-old-man. Close your eyes. Mentally picture this species in your head. Got it? Now laugh with me: he asked me to close the window shade for the entire flight (that didn’t happen); he snored when sleeping; leaned his head on my shoulder when sleeping, tried to figure out my life story, attempted social media stalking, followed me to baggage claim to ask me for my Instagram. AAGHH!!!

Despite this… trouble… I was polite and was a good airplane seat neighbor; I drank two cups of coffee (thankfully I didn’t have to pee, because I’d have to deal with “you-know-who;” and I found my happy place by listening to a didgeridoo soundtrack… just kidding…

When we landed, it was a great feeling. I grabbed my backpack, blasted Miley Cyrus, and accomplished a very lofty bucket list goal. I jumped off my plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan. Welcome to the land of fame excess (whoa), am I gonna fit in?

So, yes, I did listen to “Party in the USA” as I jumped in the Aunt’s car, there I was for the first time, looked to my right and didn’t see the Hollywood sign, this is all so crazy, nobody seems so famous…

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