The 19 Hours between Amsterdam & Home

* More Amsterdam posts coming later this week. In the meantime, here’s a little thing I wrote about our flight home.

I have never been so happy to see my bed. After lugging in our bags, a quick “welcome home” cuddle with the cat, and brushing my teeth, my head hits the pillow of our bed and I am out within moments. Glad to be home after a horrible 19 hours.

Hour 0

We arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Our airline desk hasn’t even opened yet. Which means we had time to caffeinate before going through security.

The airline desk opens and we drop off our check baggage and proceed to security. We happily leave our shoes on while we load the rest of our bags, coat, and laptop into trays. Ryan makes it through quickly while I have to wait for them to further screen my trays of stuff. Once my bag has passed through a second xray it’s passed on. No explanation for why I am held up. I don’t ask, put my coat back on and we head off through the Amsterdam airport to find some breakfast. We each enjoy an omelette, bacon, and some toast (with more coffee) and proceed to our gate.

Hour 2

We’ve moved into a holding area for our flight. Maybe a pre-boarding area? I’m not sure, but again don’t bother asking. Our flight has been delayed, but not by long. We know we’ll get on the plane soon. I realize my water bottle is empty, but luckily there is a water fountain in the holding area that I am able to fill it at. Our boarding group is finally called and we shuffle on by one up to the gate. Handing over tickets and passports to cheerful attendants. I’m pulled aside and a security woman runs a tab of paper over my clothes then pops it into a machine. Something pops up on the screen and she smiles and lets me know I can proceed to my flight. I thank her and rush to catch up to a confused Ryan.

Hour 12

We are somewhere over the Atlantic. We’ve been served two meals. Each time I ask for water and use it and any ice to refill my water bottle. Ryan and I have finished watching season 4 of Korra. I cried at the ending (no surprise). We each have earbuds in. Ryan is listening to a podcast while I distract myself with music. The flight attendants come by and pass out rock hard single serve ice-creams. The drinks cart skips our row. I glance at my mostly full water bottle and figure I’m good until they do their next pass.

Hour 14

We are an hour away from our scheduled landing time, 14 hours in to our 15 hour flight and all is not well. The drinks cart has not made another pass. I’ve emptied my water bottle. I feel both cold and hot. I turn up the nozzle blowing air at me. But the sterile, dry airplane air only makes things worse. Ryan hands me a vomit bag (just in case) and I fidget in my seat. All I want to do is lay down, but that is impossible in our cramped seats.

Suddenly I realize, I am about to be sick. Everything goes into the bag and Ryan hands me his bag. A moment later I realize the woman next to me has also passed Ryan her bag.

An attendant checks on us, holding a large trash bag out for me to deposit the bags in. And I excuse myself to the tiny bathroom while letting all my fellow travelers who are staring at me know it was probably something I ate. I rinse out my mouth and wash my face. Making my way back to my seat I ask an attendant if I can get some water. It never arrives.

Hour 15

As our plane descends I concentrate on breathing. Alternating mantras of “we’re not going to crash” and “I’m not going to throw up” in my head. The plane safely lands. We wait to unboard. I desperately just want to find a bathroom and find some water. But first we must pass through customs.

Ryan locates our bags and steers me to the customs line. He does all the talking and we make it through with no issues. I concentrate on not vomiting on the customs agents’ shoes.

Hour 16

We realize our connecting flight home leaves in an hour. It’s on the opposite side of the airport. Oh, and we have to go back through security. Crap. We race through hallways and jump on a shuttle just as it departs for our terminal. The shuttle feels like it is moving slower than a snail as the minutes tick by.

Finally we arrive at our terminal. Sprinting to security we tear off our coats, remove shoes as we walk through the line so that we can chuck our stuff into trays as soon as we are at the front of the line. Thankfully, security moves quickly and neither of us are pulled aside. Clutching my shoes, bag and coat, we run to our gate. Ryan curses the airport for their poor layout and procedures. I concentrate on breathing.

Arriving at our gate, we discover our flight hasn’t left yet. It’s even delayed 10 minutes. I have just enough time to use the bathroom and grab a ginger ale hoping it will help settle my stomach.

It doesn’t.

Hour 17

The plane is still boarding. We have found our seats and I am doing my best to just breathe. Suddenly I realize the ginger ale is about to make a reappearance. I run to the plane’s airplane, jerk open the door and almost vomit on a mother and toddler who are mid diaper change. Rushing back to my seat, I make it in time to empty my stomach into the vomit bag. The airline attendant stops by and instead of taking the full bag, hands over a trash bag that I end up clutching the entire flight.

We finally taxi to the runway. I want to hold my head with both hands, but one is relegated to holding the bag, so I cradle my pounding head with one hand as we take flight.

The entire flight I am aware all of my fellow travelers are looking at me like I’m Typhoid Mary. I want to tell them it’s nothing, probably something I ate triggered by stress. That everything will be fine, I just want to go home and lay down. Instead I tell myself to just breathe and hope to make it through the flight without needing to open the garbage bag again.

Hour 18

I have never been so happy to land. We taxi to our gate and I struggle to get my bag while still holding the garbage bag. So much for helpful airline attendants. The first trashcan I see I dump the sloshing bag, grateful to have the use of two hands again.

We make our way to baggage claim. Ryan retrieves the bags while I concentrate on staying upright. After waiting a few minutes, a cab pulls up to the curb and the final leg of our travel begins.

Ryan chats with the cab driver while he weaves through traffic. Every time the gas or break pedal is taped I tell my stomach to behave. To get through the next 10 minutes. Please.

Hour 19

Our cab arrives. I exit and drag my bag towards the welcoming sight of our building. While Ryan fumbles with the keys, I can hear the cries of our cat welcoming us home.

I have never been so happy to see my bed…


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