It went rather uneventfully (albeit uncomfortably) until we started our approach into JFK. Then, all hell started breaking loose as we were forced to circle the airport for over an hour, as there were severe storms over the area. I can't tell you what a tense time this turned into on this airplane, with a baby screaming, and a lot of the passengers get upset because of the turbulence, the dizzying motion of the plane in a constant arc, and the fact that they were becoming aware (due to the Geomaps up on the screen) that we were not landing despite the black clouds and lightning we were embroiled in. Not fun.
Personally, I was so tired at this point, my mind refused to even register anxiety. The cabin stunk to holy hell (I'll let your imagination go there), kids screaming so loud that even my earbuds wouldn't drown it out, and the turbulence, I felt like I was trapped in an insane asylum. I just wanted to get on the friggin' ground to get the hell out of there. I thought, "God, give me the strength to not go psychotic at this point and just parachute out!" LOL...what a horror.
So, finally we land, and then we get trapped on the runway for an additional 1/2 before disembarking. On the plane, people are so anxious to disembark it turns into total chaos of arguing and yelling in Russian, pushing, shoving, etc. Sheesh!
Then, we get to the security checkpoints and it's just complete madness. JFK has new security measures and it looks like complete pandemonium. There are new "self check" passport servers, and half of them are down, people don't know how to use them, etc., then there is another checkpoint to SHOW your passport to an agent, then another point, and another point to give agents your declaration receipt (I believe there were four in all) and I'm thinking, "Why do we have to go through all this bullshit?? I could just land down at the Southern border and walk across completely unmolested!!!" Seriously? Is everyone in the US Government completely insane?
Now, we finally make it to through all that garbage to get our luggage, and it's over an hour and forty-five minutes, and the luggage STILL isn't on the carousel. While we are waiting for our baggage (this was so incredulous, it's actually funny) a surly looking woman security agent with an old beagle dog wearing mantle stating "Homeland Security" comes walking up to the group standing around, and starts the dog to start randomly sniffing everyone's bags for "contraband." She walks up to a thin, well-dressed middle-aged man standing a few feet from me, who just happened to put his laptop bag down on the ground to answer a phone call. She begins to question him very aggressively as to why he put his bag on the ground, etc., then directs the dog to "sniff" the bag. The dog sniffs and sniffs, and she then states the dog has smelled something suspicious, and he must go with her. I am watching this in complete amazement, as she takes him away.
About 15 minutes later, the luggage is STILL not there, and that detained fellow comes stomping back up to the carousel, looking very indignant. I met his eyes, and he blurts out, "That animal smelled the cookie I had wrapped up in my luggage pocket!" I suppressed my giggles and nodded sympathetically, as he stood there looking humiliated. Yes people, just remember, in JFK airport, if you smuggle a cookie in and don't pay off the dog, you are subject to a cavity search by Brunhilda and her goon squad! Welcome to America, Land of the Free!!
Now, the luggage begins to arrive, and I'm feeling a knot in my stomach as mine is still not on the carousel, and in our residency group, several artists unfortunately had their luggage lost, but, as usual, mine was one of the LAST off the plane, but, last or not, it was there, and I grabbed it and took off running to the last checkpoint, and then out.
I was greeted by my baby gal Noelle, and I was very happy to see her!! She helped me with my luggage, and then we were able to locate my Dad, and begin the long journey home. It rained Monsoon-like gales for nearly the entire trip back, slowing us down considerably. I was so exhausted by that time I felt like I was in a dream, but I couldn't sleep...finally arriving home around midnight.
It felt and still feels so odd to be home, my mind didn't register it at first. What a strange feeling....still suffering from sleep deprivation (I was able to sleep about 6 hours but it wasn't "normal" sleep, very fitful, kept waking, etc.)...but I know I am in the throes of jetlag, and will be OK in the next few nights.
So, the journey to Romania is complete...I have a lot to write about regarding it, but that is for tomorrow. Today is for recovery!