June 10, 2010

A Rainbow of a Day

Posted in Trek through Italy at 4:19 PM by goingbeyondzebra

My first day in Italy has been an emotionally colorful experience.

I arrived at the Atlanta Airport around 2:00PM Wednesday, got all checked in, and said a too-quick goodbye to my parents (the traffic was terrible at the airport and there was no parking available, so one parent would circle the airport while I said farewell to the other and then they switched off). Thankfully, security and everything went the smoothest I think it has ever gone for me. No bag searches, no being pulled to the side, nothing! That was wonderful. So after feeling down about leaving my parents, I now deemed myself ready to hit my adventure head on, no one could stop me! On the train to my concourse, I felt like a seasoned traveler, reveling in a new experience. Even as I walked to my gate and realized I was one of the first people there, and that there wasn’t even a gate attendant yet, I wasn’t bothered (I had The Princess Bride novel to read, after all).When the gate attendant finally did arrive, I calmly made him aware of my presence like I was told, I was flying on a stand-by ticket, and he assured me that it appeared as if everyone would make it onto the plane and they would call my name when they wanted me.

An hour passed. Two hours passed. Fellow travelees began filling the once empty seats surrounding me. Here and there I heard snippets of conversation as I read my book; this girl was going to Italy for a study abroad program, this couple was returning to their home, that lady over there isn’t even staying in Italy, it’s just a stop over, etc. etc.. Another gate attendant appeared, another thirty minutes trotted by as names of other stand-by passengers began to be called. I continued to read my book while trying to remain attentive, unworried that my name hadn’t been called yet.

Then they began to board the plane. I felt the gnawing teeth of panic start to nibble away at my calm, assured, self. Now boarding zone 1, zone 2, another two names called, zone 3, zone 4, another name called, but still I sat, waiting. All zones now boarding?! But wait! What about me? Another name called…and it wasn’t mine. Panic was in full color now as I considered the possibility I might not make it. Should I call my parents now, or keep waiting? The filled seats surrounding me had dwindled down to a scarce few people milling about. I couldn’t go through the whole farewell process again, it was difficult enough the first time! How could I…

…and then I heard it. One of the most beautiful sounds ever. My name being said over the loud speaker. Relief filled my vision as I gathered my belongings and headed to the front desk. The wonderful lady checked me in, handed me my ticket, and showed me to the gateway. I was so relieved I had made it I didn’t even check my ticket till I nearly reached the plane (and it was a very long walkway mind you, not your average jolt along the bouncy connector here). When I did think to look, I was given an even greater surprise. 1F! Wait does that mean…I entered the plane, showed the stewardess my ticket, and sure enough, First Class! FRONT ROW! (Praise God!)

I have only ridden on first class once before, when I was around eleven and coming home from visiting my Dad who was in Oklahoma for medical treatment. That experience was nothing compared to this. They practically treat you like royalty! I was actually almost embarrassed part of the time because of all the attention, and because half the time I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Hot Towel? What do you do with that? Three knives and two forks with dinner? I didn’t know I needed full table etiquette knowledge to dine on Delta! I tried to salvage my reputation as best as I could and appear as if I traveled this way all the time by casting (what I hope were) surreptitious glances around the cabin now and then to see what everyone else was doing. This was made a bit more difficult by the fact that I was in the front row, so I pretty much had to turn and look behind me to see anyone else, but I think I was successful.

My biggest flubs were:

1. Not understanding how to get the personal video viewer to come up. I naturally assumed you just pulled it up with your hands and adjusted it accordingly, kind of like you did with the food tray device. I tugged and pulled at that thing several times trying to get it to come up. Finally, on my third attempt, I realized there was this button/lever contraption on the side of my seat, so I pulled that and viola! The video viewer arose.

2. Trying to figure out the seat adjuster. There were like, 500 buttons on the seat adjuster dohicky, and it took me several tries to understand which button operated what part of the seat. I felt like a little kid with an unhealthy obsession for pushing buttons, but really I was just trying to get comfortable!

3. Not realizing you can get up and use the rest room/ get your bag out of the overhead when the seat-belt sign is on. Of course, I thought when they turned that light on, and ANNOUNCED that it meant to remain in our seats when it was on that, well, we were supposed to remain in our seats. I held out on relieving myself for nearly three hours, waiting for the light to go off so I could use the restroom (it was a bit of a bumpy ride, but nothing to fret over). Plus I was over an hour late taking some of my medication, which was stowed in my overhead bag. After watching other passengers partake in these dangerous pursuits however, I eventually decided it would be okay for me to engage in them as well. Lo and behold, nothing happened! So what exactly is the purpose of those signs, anyways?

After one movie, over half a book, and maybe 2 hours of sleep, my destination was reached. I had made it to Italy! I was a muddy mix of emotions ranging from excited to terribly homesick, but I managed to get off the plane, go through customs and get my luggage without a hitch (again, huge blessing! One of the easiest foreign countries I have entered). The Harrells, who were picking me up from the airport (in Milan) to bring me to Torre Pellice, where I will be kind of based from, were waiting for me through the doors and we began our two hour car ride to Torre Pellice. We talked, and I did my best to remain alert and conscious. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day, so I could not see much of the scenery or the mountains that they promised were out there, but I look forward to getting a nice view of them soon. Once we arrived, I was led to the office where I met about 10-15 people in a whirlwind of names and faces that will most likely all have to be re-introduced tomorrow. After eating a pasta lunch with fellow office people, and sorting out some details about where I was supposed to stay, the Harrells brought me to their home where I got to take a shower and chill for a few hours, while trying not to falling asleep.

I mostly managed the last part. I did doze off once or twice but not for long. I was also able to talk to my parents on Skype, which was wonderful. Here I reached the hardest part of my day so far. Overwhelmed with weariness, jetlag, and homesickness, I fell into a bit of a gray despair and spent the majority of the afternoon with wet eyes.

Once the Harrells returned home from their meetings, I was able to talk to them a bit more about some of the future plans for what I will be doing while I am here, which helped ease my dark mood into something not quite good, but not as terrifying as it had been. They then took me to dinner where we met with another family working here, the Roberts, at a (can you guess?) pizza place! Tommy’s Pizza to be exact. It was very delicious, even if I couldn’t eat a whole lot since I had been having some digestive issues throughout the day. The dinner as a whole was a pretty relaxing and enjoyable event, even if I did feel a bit stoned during part of it due to the rest deficit which was quickly growing .

As we were walking out of the restaurant, I also got to see a chef preparing some desserts for the evening. They looked absolutely delicious! I was told the different names, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. However, it was very entertaining (for me) to watch.

So here I am, preparing to end a day characterized by its colorful attributes. And as I look to tomorrow, all does not seem entirely well, but I feel as if there is a rainbow of promise trying to peek through the holes of my cloudy perspective.

That’s all for now (a relatively long post I know, sorry!). My adventures have begun and we will see what tomorrow brings!




  1. Stephanie said,

    I can’t believe you got to ride first class! So glad you made it over there 🙂 I look forward to reading all of your posts over the next few months.

  2. Mom said,

    This was a delight to read. I laughed much at your wonderful ability to express yourself especially in the bigggest flubs parts! Your gift with words is uplifting. I pray God uses that gift that He gave you in wonderful ways over the next weeks.

  3. Sharon said,

    A fun read…I’m looking forward to future posts.

  4. interested reader said,

    So do you have a boy friend that you missed?

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