Here I was disembarking my plane in Sydney, while Kelly had headed back to university in The States. We were now on opposite sides of the world. I was flat broke, but wasn’t going to let her, or others know this. I knew this was going to have to be a quick turn around, and I would need to make some money real quick to be able to keep my promise of entering the States within a month’s time.
I hassled every single one of my contacts in Sydney to the point where they had to give me work. Within 10 days of being home and after my first paycheck, my flights were booked. This is the best way to ever save to travel as you essentially are forced to save every penny that you earn. Also, this would mean I would arrive in The States the night before Valentine’s Day. The coming weeks I worked from sunrise to the wee hours of the morning. This time flew past as I was in a complete daze. I was working, eating, sleeping or chatting to Kelly on Skype. You might say this is boring; however, the distraction assisted in saving, and I managed to leave Australia with just under $8K. Not a bad effort for just under one month of work. This was the hardest I had ever worked in my life and it truly showed me the meaning that if you want something bad enough all you really have to do is go after it and anything can become possible.
I climbed aboard my plane in Sydney to fly via LAX to Orlando where I would be reunited with Kelly once I arrived. It was possibly the worst flight of my life. There was turbulence the whole way from take off to landing. Air hosts attempted to serve food as if they were throwing a Frisbee down the aisle, the plane bounced about in the clouds and the ‘please be seated’ sign remained on for the entirety of the flight.
I arrived in Orlando with limited sleep and headed to arrivals to finally be reunited with Kelly. I was walking down a corridor and saw a young girl holding a sign that read ‘Welcome to America, Sam’, but it wasn’t Kelly. It was some other person I had never seen in my life. Back of my mind was saying “Are you kidding me? You had one job to just be here for me when I arrived”. This little person then proceeded to say, “Sorry, Kelly got caught in traffic. She will meet us at the bar”. I was pretty cheesed off that she hadn’t made it but as I looked down, hiding in the corner, there she was, curled up with a cheeky smile on her face. She had just pulled off the biggest surprise I think I have ever got in my life.
We spent the night having dinner and drinks in Orlando with some of Kelly’s friends and checked into our hotel. Now this was the night before Valentine’s Day. The next morning we drove to St Augustine where we would spend the day adventuring through the town and have dinner and drinks down by the water. The next morning we were on the move once again to Jacksonville to spend the night with Kelly’s cousin and score a free night of accommodation.
These days flew past and next thing we were in Tallahassee, Florida. I had moved into a spare room in a college house, which had no windows or natural light. I originally thought this would only be home for a couple weeks before we traveled for a bit. My plan before heading over was to stay for one month, return home to work, then fly back over for Kelly’s graduation 5 weeks later. We planned we would then both fly back to Sydney, Australia.
I settled into the fraternity and sorority life style. Yes, these do exist and yes, they are just like they are depicted in the movies. I attended Kelly’s semi-formal date functions and drank my sorrows away at the cheap college bars. Kelly was still finishing up her degree, and I was still finishing up mine in Australia. However, I was lucky that in my earlier years at university I had been able to place all of my internal subjects within my first two years and the last two years could be studied via distance. This fitted in perfectly with my travel plans and America worked absolutely fine.
Kelly was all about showing me around and made sure we ate at every single one of the restaurants, did all the things she had done in her years at college and even worked around taking me to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Now me being Aussie our Mardi Gras is a little different as a ‘Gay Pride March’ and I didn’t know what to expect. New Orleans was eventful to say the least, with a wallet and car keys stolen; however, we managed to get through and make it back to Tallahassee.
A few weeks later came Spring Break and my god I was excited to party on and finally meet Kelly’s family. I was a little bit nervous meeting Kelly’s Dad, so I had thought ahead in Australia and bought him a bottle of Bundaberg OP Rum – a guaranteed way to earn his respect. We spent the week hanging out with Kelly’s family down in the Florida Keys out on the boat, playing ‘left, right, centre’ (best game on earth) and having great conversations.
Days passed and next thing we were climbing aboard a Celebration Cruise to the Bahamas with 10 of Kelly’s best friends for a couple days. The cruise was, putting it politely, interesting. Possibly the worst customer service I have ever come across in my life. When the DJ stops the music and tells you not to splash as you jump in the pool you start to reconsider your choice of cruise. We laughed our way through all the negatives and tried to make the most of the experience.
We arrived back to Kelly’s home in Florida and three days later I was set to fly home to Australia. I thought, “What am I doing? With the money I am going to spend on another flight back over in a month’s time, I may as well just stick around and hang out a little while longer”. So I called the airline and pushed my flight back another 7 weeks paid a small fee, and the rest is history.
So I headed back to Tallahassee so Kelly could finish off her final year of study at Florida State University. In the coming weeks, I watched her graduate with honors and I will say, I was super impressed. Her family and I sat through the 4 hour ceremony and screamed out as her name was called.
We flew to North Carolina to see Kelly’s cousin get married in the meadows of the countryside, which was absolutely amazing and spent some time getting to know Kelly’s family that little bit more. Then returned for the last time to Tallahassee to pack up shop and make the long nine-hour drive back to Kelly’s family home in Fort Lauderdale.
My trip through the states was now coming to an end and the final leg was to happen in the coming days. Kelly and I had been discussing what we would do after America, and it was unanimous she would fly over to Australia with a one year working visa in hand. The only hurdle was going to be her parents and to our delight they were absolutely fine with the idea besides a few tears.
So now it was time to board our final flights from Miami to California for yet another one of Kelly’s cousin’s weddings with her family, and I would then fly off back to Sydney. The wedding was such an amazing experience to be a part of, on a catamaran, cruising throughout Newport.
The next two days we spent adventuring throughout Laguna and Huntington Beach, riding bikes along Venice Beach and finishing the evening with a beer in hand on the Santa Monica Pier. Now this might all seem like a lot to think about in such a short period of time, but time flew past and these were some of the best moments of my life. The memories and the company were exceptional and to spend so much time with Kelly and her friends and family (even though they didn’t really understand my accent) just made the experience that much better.
So here I was once again at another airport saying goodbye for the third time to the love of my life with the promise she would be over in Sydney in three weeks. We all said our farewells and off I went to climb aboard my flight home.
Does this love story continue in Australia… I’ll keep you posted!