I would have imagined our plane crashing before I could have envisioned how today turned out. But here I am, in the airport Holiday Inn in Denver, spending the night before my flight back to Fargo in the morning.
This afternoon when we checked in at Fargo, the gate agents blatantly told us that we wouldn't get through customs in Hong Kong without some sort of return ticket (it's possible to visit Hong Kong for up to three months without a visa; but without proof of a return ticket, we could be staying indefinitely for all the immigration agents know...). In hindsight, we shouldn't have gotten on the plane in Fargo, but we felt confident we could find a solution during our four-hour layover in Denver.
We contemplated booking a dud return flight from Hong Kong back to Fargo for three weeks from now and then just cancel it. But that wold be an expensive little rendezvous. We also thought maybe we could re-route to Washington DC and stay there for a week or so until we got our work visa then fly straight to Shanghai (bureaucracy is a gem; since we're N.D. residents, we have to fly to DC to get our working visa. If we lived in Minnesota, we could put everything in an envelope to Chicago). Our third option was to fly back to Fargo and press reset.
....Then our flight was delayed an hour from Fargo to Denver. We seriously thought about getting off the plane, but we were stuck on the tarmac, and we would have further delayed the plane by another hour if we would've chose to be the assholes who got off.
That left three hours in Denver. Thankfully my parents were there (they're returning from a vacation) and we had the same layover. I broke. I cried. It was messy. We called China and had about 15 phone calls with the professor who helped set us up with this job. We negotiated prices and options and decided coming back to Fargo is the best thing.
So $450 later and more phone calls and stress than I could have imagined, I find myself postponing my China adventure. Our bags? They're in San Francisco. I don't know when or if I'll ever see them again.
I'm humiliated. I'm embarrassed. I'm ashamed. I'm writing this situation in so much detail on this blog because I can't bring myself to tell every single person individually why I'm back in Fargo. It's too complicated and too stressful.
Throughout the past few months, I've wondered what it would be like to prepare for a trip this long and such a strong culture shock only to have to cut it short, or in my case, not even leave the midwest. Regardless of whether I go to China or not, I'm out a ton of money that the university originally agreed to pay for but has now been doubled as a result of this mess.
I don't know what to do. I just have to keep faith that everything happens for a reason. I may not ever know why we were held back in Denver, but I do know that I'm going to go to China. I have to. I've devoted too much of myself to it not to actually live and breathe it.
So, say a little prayer for my friend and I tonight, please?