The all to familiar piercing screech filled my ears and my stomach looped as it always did when the plane dropped altitude to prepare for landing. Finally after over 48 hours of sitting on a plane, our journey was coming to an end. I rubbed my sleepy, bloodshot eyes with excitement and hurried to stow all of my personal belongings in the seat pocket in front of me. I stretched over my brother who was sleeping in the seat next to mine and raised the cover on the window so that I could watch the lights get brighter and brighter as we approached the city of los Angeles. Another year had gone by since I was last in America but the view from the window of the plane looked the same as it did last year. City lights gleaming from all directions and headlights from what looks like millions of cars loop in patterns around the buildings.
Full of excitement, I threw my seatbelt off and ran to find my mom and ask her for some gum to help pop my ears. Not surprisingly, I found her at the front of the plane, hunched over the tray table with a pen in her hand vigorously writing, trying to finish up the last immigration card before we landed. I knew she would be stressed, as she always was when we traveled so I refrained from talking to her until she was done writing. As I was waiting, I started to wonder how someone could look so fresh and well put together after sitting on a plain for 48 hours. I guess my mom always looked her best though. Her long blonde hair always looked as if she had just stepped out of a beauty salon. Even after sitting on a plane, her hair is stilled full of body and bounce and every piece of her thick hair remains perfectly in place as if it was just brushed. Her natural blond highlights brighten her silky smooth hair and flow down her back in a perfectly cut straight line and come to a curl as they reach the never split ends. Before I get the chance to ask my mom for some gum, the flight attendant kindly asks me to return to my seat and prepare for landing.
We get off the plane and my ears finally start to equalize as they adjust to the new change in altitude. My mom hands my brothers and I our passports and our filled out immigration cards and lets us choose the line we want to stand in for immigration. I looked around at all of the different lines and spotted a new line forming at the end of the room. Immediately I start to run for the line so that can be at the very front and my mom and brothers follow behind me. We weren’t the first people in line but we are pretty close to the top which is really good news because these lines can take forever. Of course the people in front of us were not experiences travelers and didn’t have all of their stuff out and ready for the immigration officer to check off so we end up waiting for what seems like hours before it’s finally our turn. When the guy is finally finishes asking us all questions and checking out passports he says, “Welcome home” and with that line, I know that summer has officially begun.
Every year, the best part of this trip back to the U.S is when I get to step into the cool, clean California air. We get outside the doors of LAX airport and the smell of cool dry hair engulfs me and happiness overtakes me because I know that I am finally home for the summer. No more city smog and humid tropical air. No more rain and allergies. No more 100-degree days with 40 percent humidity. For the next three months, I get to smell the salty breeze of the ocean and the light clean scent of California air. We walk to my Dad who is waiting in the car across the street, load up the trunk with all of our suitcases and souvenirs. I take one last breath of the fresh summer air before my Dad lifts me into the truck and drives off to our home for the next three months.