The memory of my entry into Australia has been weighing on my mind since I arrived and I think I should talk about it.
I flew out of Omaha on the 9th of April. I got to Dallas/Fort Worth and had about three hours before another short flight to LA. I used my layovers for recharging (body/mind/iPhone) and mainly saving up all of my exhaustion for the upcoming lengthy flight to Sydney. (I’d only gotten about three and a half hours of sleep the night before because, well, travel, and also procrastination).
In LA, we had to take a shuttle across the tarmac to the international terminal. At first, I thought it looked a lot like Heathrow (very bland, boring, sterile), and then we got into the new section. It looked a lot like King’s Cross Station in London, or like a really nice mall. It was very open and airy, very bright, but not blinding. There were boutiques and high-end shops. It was very comfortable and I already felt like I was somewhere else.
I made friends with a woman called Joyce and also a family of four heading home to Melbourne. Joyce told me that the border folks in Sydney were very ‘civilized.’ I’m sure I sounded suspicious asking her if the BA asks a lot of questions. I’m not fleeing, I promise.
The plane was a double-decker Qantas A380. I was second row from the economy cabin door and ended up being the only one in my row of three. I was very relieved at that, and also at the state of the plane – everything was very nice and comfortable. It was a fifteen hour flight, after all.
As soon as we took off, I put on Wolf of Wall Street – I think I missed out on all the nudity and sexuality because it was edited for the plane; had to stifle a ton of laughter – and then took my Advil PM. I used the three pillows and two of the three blankets in my row (thanks, non-existent passengers), and curled up for sleep. I had to wake up and adjust my position more than a couple times, but in the end, I got about nine hours of sleep.
To finish off the flight, I watched Philomena, which was absolutely fantastic. At that point, I put up the window shade and was met with the breathtaking view of a bit of coast and a lot of ocean. I’m not even sure that I would have been able to say a reverent ‘oh my God’ to anyone. It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever experienced.
The descent into Sydney at daybreak: could not recommend enough. I mean. Add that shit to your bucket list, stat.
Not only was the landscape lush and gorgeous, but the clouds and mist met with the water to create a seamless, translucent, silvery backdrop. And as my words can’t ever do it justice:
So the big bird made an effortless landing into Sydney and my nerves flared up. I had a folderful of documents in my bag, I had my answers prepared, I was going to be confident and calm – I had no reason to be turned away and prayed I’d just make it through because, holy hell, would I have caused a fucking scene.
I certainly wasn’t prepared for the humidity that greeted me as I stepped off the plane, but I didn’t let it throw me. I noticed a little machine where I can scan my passport and get some sort of ticket, so I did that. Then I saw that I could take that ticket and go to another machine that would scan my face and let me through. I thought that was too good to be true, but I tried it.
During the scanning process, these two biddies next to me where fussing about something and I probably looked away for a split second. Of course, my machine told me to seek assistance. Fuck. Here it comes.
I went up to the desk and said good morning, yeah, I looked away for a second and the machine told me to come over here. He said, yeah they’re super touchy. He looked at my passport and back at me and I moaned about my hideous photo. He goes, oh, you’re showing teeth. I was like, yeah, I mean, I’m going to be happy to be traveling, so why wouldn’t I smile (haha). He said, yeah, we have to keep a neutral face. I asked, you can’t even scowl? He said, no; and it’s not a bad photo anyway. I said, well, thanks. Then I think he said, have a good trip or day or something, handed me back my passport and I walked through.
Hold on. This.. something.. is different..
Sir, don’t you need to know how long I’ll be here or who I’m staying with or if I have my plane tickets home or how much money I make/have/plan to spend or if I’m married or if I live alone or if I’m employed or why I’m here or what I’ll do while I’m here or what my social security number is or what my five year plan is or who is my high school crush or what’s my mother’s maiden name or for a copy of my birth certificate or the first ten digits of Pi or-
Wait, he did ask me what my flight number was. 12. Okay.
I walked down toward baggage claim and actually almost cried. That was it. It wasn’t painful. It wasn’t even difficult. It wasn’t even nerve-wracking. I didn’t even sweat. I didn’t even wait in line for more than two minutes. The guy was even sexy. The guy was even nice. It even felt like he wanted me here. It even felt like he liked his job a bit. I even felt unlike a criminal. I even felt like a normal person. What the fuck.
I can’t even write anything else about the experience, because, well, there’s nothing else to write. That was it. I’m literally sitting here, looking around the room to see if I can remember anything else, but.. there’s nothing.
I might as well have been entering America.
It was everything I needed.
Then I had a mini bitchfit on twitter about how it should be done, ahem, UKBA. Jesus Christ Almighty.
Don’t even get me started on that bullshit again. Fuck.
Boy, it’s hard not to.
But, yeah, I think the entire process of disembarking the plane, crossing the border, and getting my bags took… twenty minutes? Maybe a half hour?
In summation, to the UKBA, I say: