I made this video, “Los Angeles in 24 hours,” for entertainment and to find some humor in our sad situation. The story below recounts the time from leaving Seattle to eventually ending the day in LA.
I walked into the airport, emotions on high after waving to goodbye to Casey, my five year old brother, and my Dad. My suitcase, weighing more than me, already toppling over.
Only an hour earlier I said goodbye to my love. My man. After only 2 months of
passionate love, but 10 months of friendship, hatred and casual encounters, we were faced with my departure. I didn’t want to let go because I knew he’d be gone forever. At the same time I wanted to let go to rid of the vast emptiness in the pit of my stomach. But I know we’ll see each other soon, maybe in a different country but still in love.
I walked up to the United counter, breathing slow, watching the three East African gentlemen laughing about something. I turn to my right.
“Madeline?” I found my sister. She was stressed.
“He won’t send our bags all the way to Auckland,” she said to me.
Shit. We only had one hour between flights and we’d been warned that LAX is under renovation. Also we only had one hour.
I tried to explain our situation to the man without avail.
“Your services end with United in LA.” Okay douchebag. We get it.
We immediately jumped into resurrection mode.
“Alright,” I say, wishing I had paid more attention to my stepdad’s advice about SkyBox. SkyFlight? SkyHigh? Anyway.
“We will just look at a map of LAX and figure out exactly where to go so we can run off the plane,” I say.
After passing through security my sister and I had 3 hours early for a domestic flight. We had time to kill. We sat in the rocking chairs in front of the big windows reading about Kim Kardashian’s transformation into the woman she is today. It was a very insightful article.
Once at the gate we talked to Jean, the lovely United employee, about what to do with our checked bags once we landed.
Please do wonders for us Jean.
“Well ladies, it looks like you have to go through security again once you land in LAX,” she says with a well rehearsed smile. “But you are pretty close to the front.”
Madeline and I look at each other confused-two rows back from the toilet is not what we considered close to the front. Alrighty. Jean interrupts our anxious minds informing us that we will actually land twenty minutes early.
That was not a true statement. We landed at 1015 as expected.
Of course our suitcases were the last ones onto the baggage claim. We grabbed them and we ran, well jogged, stole a push cart and politely avoided running over toes while yelling “We’re on Amazing Race!” I don’t think anyone believed us.
We finally found Air New Zealand. Still hopeful. Still hopeful. Then we read the awful orange lettering Counter Closed. Noooooo. We both wanted to cry, pout, stomp our feet, throw our hands in the air. GOD DAMMIT.
But we held it in. We held our composure. I’m proud of ourselves for not absolutely losing it at the counter. Instead, we were booked on the next day’s flight at 11:15PM.
Here we go. 24 hours in Los Angeles. After making 13 calls to various hotels in the LAX vicinity, including one lady who said she cannot book our room over the phone because its first come first serve only. That was a first.
Finally finally we found a hotel room-only $225 for one night. That seemed like a great deal at the time. Especially since we did not get our boarding ticket and didn’t have the option to sleep on the airport benches.
Once we arrived at the hotel in a Taxi van we were informed it was cash only. Madeline made a run to the bank across the street and I checked us into our room.
“Alison?” Asked the young, perma-stoned desk attendant. His hair slicked back into a tight ponytail with a heavy flannel over his official Hawthorne Hotel shirt.
“What?” My eyes desperate for explanation.
“You’re Alison?” He repeats. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not who I think I am anymore.
“Samantha Heim?” I say hesitantly.
He doesn’t say anything and turns to his computer and prints off my receipt for the room.
Maybe I’m the one losing it.
We get into our room and it’s heaven on EARTH. Two queen sized beds with memory foam pillows. There was a microwave and fridge and couch! Oh man.
We sat down for three seconds. “Come on Madeline. We gotta get food now or we’re gonna pass out.”
12AM in ritzy Manhattan Beach was pretty safe until a car pulled up next to us and stopped. Our hearts were pounding. But it was only a sweet lady waiting to turn right.
With the somewhat trusty Yelp app we located the only restaurant open within half a mile. As we got closer we saw a blue and red light blinking. We are saved. But it was only Jack In The Box. Only the drive-thru was open until 2AM. Madeline and I were unaware of the vehicle rule when approaching drive-thru’s.
We approached the window and the young man with LA tattooed on his neck would not open the window. Desperation was beginning. I began several times to explain to him our situation and ask him if he could recommend any open restaurants nearby. He repeated that he could not hear me.
Then Madeline brought her angry-Mom voice out, “Is there anything else open!?” Then walked away quickly.
Our back-up plan was the 24 hour Walgreens. It was the best frozen pasta we’ve ever tasted.