I flew back to Charlotte, North Carolina about ten days ago and had a wonderful/nightmarish time. On the first night, my mom and I ate at my tie for favorite restaurant in Charlotte (my other #1 is a place called Good Food. We like to be literal ’round these here parts…) — this AMAZING Japanese joint called Baku. I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you now…I took barely any pictures the entire time I was home, and I was too dang hungry to do it that night, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say this food looks and is delicious. The restaurant’s vibe is upscale but low-key. Dim lighting, smooth tunes, GREAT drinks (I had the French Pear: Absolut Pear, Elderflower, and Lime. Diviiiiiine), and food that makes you want to slap your waiter in the face and demand they bring you every scrap of food from the kitchen and put it in front of you immediately. It was a good start to my trip 🙂
Next day, the friend keeping my cats brought me to Greensboro for what should have been their last vet appointment. I had forwarded the health certificate and all the necessary info to my friend who passed it on to the vet. After the appointment, they tell us the paperwork should be complete and ready to send to the USDA the following morning; they just want to make sure everything is as it should be, so they thought it best to wait until their resident expert on international pet travel is in the office. Okeedokee. I take my babies back to my mom’s place and we get reacquainted. Tomorrow (Thursday) rolls around and my friend says they’re still holding the paperwork, but assure us that it should be ready by Friday. I was in no position at this point to change either my flight or my cats’ flight, so I needed to get this stuff sent out ASAP so I could get it back from the USDA in time to take off. As long as everything is in order, the USDA can have your pet’s certificate endorsed and mailed back to you the same day they receive it. Not sending the certificate to the USDA until Friday meant they wouldn’t receive it until Monday if I overnighted it and I, in turn, wouldn’t get it back until Tuesday…which is when I had to get it back because my flight (though it left on Wednesday) was from the international airport in Atlanta (because I couldn’t fly my cats out of Charlotte). We planned to be on the road by 8AM to ensure that I’d get there in time to check my cats in at the cargo facility before the 4PM cutoff. Friday comes, and I get another text from my friend. My cats need to see and have their paperwork completed by another vet because the first one wasn’t properly accredited.
I can’t…there just aren’t words for how angry I was.
Clearly, the reason they were dragging their feet with the paperwork was because they were trying to find a way around their lack of accreditation. They couldn’t, and in the end had to be honest (like they should have been in the FIRST place) and tell us they weren’t qualified to complete the paperwork. Do you know how much time could’ve been saved had they just pointed us to another vet from the start?
Anyway… I’ll spare you the gory details; we got it taken care of. (Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) The good news is British Airways didn’t charge me any of the “arrival fees” I would’ve had to pay if I’d shipped my cats through Virgin Atlantic (which I won’t be flying with again. The seats were effing murder on my coccyx. Yes. My coccyx.).
Back to happier things. I saw my grandparents a few times while I was back. I also hung out with some friends, which was a lot of fun. Mom and I exchanged Christmas gifts. I got her one of those personalized jars of Nutella (thanks for the tip, Jaime!), some souvenirs from Disneyland Paris, and a London tea towel. She gave me black leather gloves and the bracelet she’d ordered for me before I left.
Also, it snowed while I was there!!! The one time it snowed in Guildford, I missed it ( 😡 ) and I haven’t actually seen any in London (none that has stuck anyway), so even though the folks driving in it hated it, I couldn’t get enough. And of course lots of places were closed because in the South, people treat snow like the arrival of Armageddon…
The little ones, however, were enthralled 🙂
It felt strange to be “home.” I passed by places I used to frequent — restaurants, shops, roads — and felt so firmly embedded there that I was sure I’d wake up the next day and head to work like always. I got to remember what my life was like before…what it would be like now if I hadn’t left. There are lots of things I miss about the US, and about North Carolina in particular. Cracker Barrel, Carowinds, Central Avenue…my grandmother’s & mom’s cooking, my grandparents bickering, laughing with my mom, enjoying my friends…but I can still have those things. Just not often anymore. What I have now, I wouldn’t trade for anything. I made this life for myself, and that makes me proud. I’ve seen new things and made new friends (among which I count the lovely readers who comment here 😀 ), found a place to live, and a city where I feel happy to be who I am. What I miss most about “home” are loved ones. But those people I miss are willing to visit me, so I kind of get to have it all.
And right now, I have a warm bed, two cats cuddled beside me, and a computer on my lap. Life is good.
I also bought some new books! The two I’m planning to dig into first are Neil Gaiman’s latest short story collection, Trigger Warning, and More Than This, by Patrick Ness (author of A Monster Calls, which is totally worth taking a peek at). Here are some photos I took on my stroll to Chiswick’s high street:
Until next time!