Plane tickets. Changed plans. Turbulence. Vomit. Customs. Lost luggage. Hotel rooms. Santa suits. Fake pregnancies. My surprise return.
I left for Hungary in August 2012 and have yet to return – well, until now. In good fashion, I had to make my entrance as glorious as possible. My sisters, Maricel and Amira, and I decided to keep everything a secret for months in order to surprise our parents. The only thing that I was responsible for in this mad mission was to lie saying that I was going to Krakow. We all know that I will never actually make it there. Nine tries? Ten? Although my whole school knew I was going, I only told a small handful of states-side friends – including a fellow blogger, Morgan (shout-out of the year).
Since my parents are no longer together, we had to find a way to get them in the same place at the same time. They are friendly, but my sisters and I had to come up with a lie good enough to keep them from suspecting a thing. My older sister, Maricel, bought my plane ticket. My little sister, Amira, offered herself up as the sacrificial lamb – she was “pregnant.”
I was to touch-down around 7PM in Savannah, Georgia. Everything was to run smoothly, but if you know my family at all, you know we are cursed. The last thing I did in the United States was throw up – it was almost the first thing I did as well. The turbulence I experienced on my ten+ hour flight from Vienna to Washington DC was the worst. THE WORST. Although I was able to compose myself, the woman behind me could not. I promptly ran off the plane upon touchdown and met up with a fellow Central European Teaching Program member, Katelyn, who just so happened to be on the same flights as me (listening to The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack as I type this post). We all had to recheck our bags in DC and I thought everything would be smooth sailing… except for the fact that I brought Hungarian paprika into the United States and got sniffed out by a custom’s patrol beagle. After an hour and a half of horror, my luggage got thrown onto a belt to be placed in the small plane I was taking to Georgia. That placement did not actually happen… it got lost somewhere in my nation’s capital.
Due to some unforeseen events, we had to move the reveal to Saturday night – thus leaving me potentially stranded. One of my best friends, Laura, offered to put me up for the night, but I ended up staying in a hotel my little sister works at due to fear of complete zombie mode. Our first stop in Savannah was Moe’s. In all seriousness, I have spent thousands of dollars at this restaurant. During college I would sometimes eat there twice a day. Saying that it was my soul mate would not even do it justice.
Laura and her wonderful husband, Bryce, picked me up the next morning and took me downtown. Over the past two and a half years I have seen many places, but downtown Savannah will always remain one of the most beautiful cities in my eyes. I feared being spotted by anyone in contact with my parents, but fortunately we only ran into a lovely high school friend, Janelle. I walked into all of the stores I have always obsessed over (and written about). If you follow my Instagram account, you probably have seen the picture Laura and I took in a photobooth at Urban Outfitters.
After roaming about the city, it was time to prep for the surprise. My luggage finally arrived and I could finally take off the clothes I had been wearing for well over two days. Amira and I went to pick up one of her best friends and “baby daddy,” Chris, and get the Santa suit I was to wear during my entrance. Maricel and her boyfriend, Derek, acted as the spies in the restaurant. Amira and Chris had to arrive last. Both Amira and Chris are actors, so they method-acted to prepare their minds for the lie. I, on the other hand, just sat in the backseat fully suited up, sweating. Needless to say, the weather in Georgia is several degrees warmer than in Hungary. Finally, it was time.
Amira and Chris walked into the restaurant holding hands. I had my little sister’s phone so that my older sister could text me about when I should make my entrance. After several minutes of awkward tension and breadstick feeding, I was given the go. As I strolled across the parking lot decked out to the nines, people cheered and laughed. I approached the table yelling “HO! HO! HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS!” and received only confused stares from my parents, step-mom, and step-sister. I gave it another go, but to no avail. I finally took off my beard, hat, etc. and almost gave everyone a heart attack. The surprise was well worth it.
I have been back for almost a week and am now just blogging about the surprise. Jetting around everywhere with friends and family has been wonderfully exhausting. Tomorrow I fly up to Atlanta to see another one of my best friends, Grace, and her awesome family. Happy Holidays to everyone!
A Lesson From Miss Jennifer: Bringing spices = not worth the trouble. Trust me.