The last month of excited and nervous anticipation had finally come to its climax. Next to the door of Iva’s cozy Venice Beach apartment sat an overstuffed backpacker’s pack, a similarly overstuffed messenger bag, and a pair of Rainbow flip-flops, worn and dirtied with their travels thus far and ready to take my feet on their next adventure. As the minutes passed I rushed hurriedly to make sure there was nothing I had forgotten and it felt as though I was perched on a stove top, each following second bringing my blood closer to boil. By the time I tossed my bags in the trunk of her long, black boat of a slowly deteriorating Benz, I was electric. Every limb charged with an unfamiliar vibration, or rather, a stronger dose of a feeling felt before. As we sailed easy down the city streets with laughter on my breath and wonder in my eyes, I gazed contemplatively out the window as the reliable row of palms whipped past. Los Angeles to me was a heartless, grimy city that had always left a bitter distaste on my tongue. I recalled that last Thursday as Iva and I made our way downtown and I sat absorbing the city as it passed. It was the only romance I ever saw in the maudlin palms; silhouetting themselves against the ashtray gray of that smoggy Hollywood night in their sad, terrible postures. But this night was different. For the first time I saw their lithe graceful forms preen against the crisp illuminated darkness through which I would soon be flying. Or perhaps I was just feeling unusually sentimental for the sleaze and whore, the heartbreak and romance, of my last American city. This was the last, lonely thought of my country to make it through my mind. As Iva pulled up to the Air Pacific entrance of the international terminal at LAX, we got out of the car to say our last goodbyes for the year to come. With the heavy pack weighing on my petite stature, we embraced each other tightly and offered best wishes in both directions, knowing that our friendship was forever unbound by time or distance.

I made it to the gate without event and reached out one last time to those I love the most before boarding the massive double-decker jet. One shitty meal, two cocktails, and two Ambien later I spread myself across the entire row I had been provided on the sparsely sold flight. As the plane made its eleven hour journey through the blind black of the midnight Pacific, I slept, knowing when I woke that the constant buzzing of curious anticipation would finally be satiated by the start of the life I had been waiting to lead.

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