I’m dazed; flying sucks the energy out of me. I reach up and touch my face and then reflexively re-apply my Mac ‘ruby woo’ lipstick onto lips that are sensitive from 15 hours of heart-aching travel. Slowly I slide off thick glasses and pop in contact lenses, undo the knot of my messy hair and shake out my barnet like a Herbal Essence commercial.
Air. I suck in a deep breath and hold it. I flip out my compact and take a long hard look at myself in the mirror. My stomach does a 360; somersaults and knots. I know this feeling; it feels like the first time. I was waiting for him to come and pick me up for our date in London, near on three years previous. I turn and dash quickly into the loo to change out of my travelling attire. Heat; I seem to be sweating buckets. Maybe I’m just not used to this climate? I tear vigorously at my tight jeans but end up falling into the toilet door with a mighty BANG. ‘SHIT’ I shout as I hit the ﬂoor. I undo my shirt and tear off my converse, throwing them together in a disorganised pile into my bag before snatching up my tight skinny American Apparel number in all its glory.
I rip off my bra and pants and slinky my way seductively into the dress, slide on my brand new sexy-just-bought- for-him wedges, rock out my original ray bans and with a spritz of Jean Paul Gautier, a shake of what my mama gave me, I was ready to roll.
I had transformed from Shoreditch ‘Shabby’ to Catwalk ‘Ready’. As I walked through San Francisco airport it was like a scene from the movie ‘She’s all that’. The other passengers from ﬂight 3245 Dublin to San Francisco gave me confused looks and gawped as I strutted past them. I inelegantly buckled on my new wedges but conﬁdently styled it out. I reminded myself that behind the Ray Bans, no one can see you. My nerves were getting the better of me at this moment and praise the lord we had already done Immigration and US Customs at Dublin airport so I could dash to him with no minor interruptions.
Now, before I lunge into the rom-com, Ross and Rachel airport romantic scenario I will quickly tell you that I didn’t think that I would be here to tell this tale. You actually go through US customs at Dublin airport on the ﬂight I took with Air Lingus from Heathrow. I got stopped at the US customs desk and moved into a small room away from the other passengers. With 30 minutes till my ﬂight to San Francisco and this being the last hurdle to jump, and another passenger in front of me being told he WASNT getting his ﬂight to Washington, my nerves were shot and my eyes just ﬁlled with tears.
I will tell you more in detail of the US customs situation from HELL. Since reading Part 3 of my blog you know the fairy tale ends successfully but things could have been so different. We landed late into Dublin and I was in a hurry anyway. Then it was standing around for ages, a long line of bags, going through security checks – you know the ones, boots off and belts off and anything over 100ml in a bag and ‘have you got any sharp objects?’ and all of your life out in a tray for us to judge blah blah blah; tedious routine checks etc etc. as you stand there sweating knowing your flight leaves in 30 minutes!
I hit the US customs and was confronted by a tall, strong, stern American ofﬁcer with an equally strong, stern moustache and stare. Question after question regarding my visit; all the W’s. Who I was visiting, where I was visiting, when was I last in the US, why was I back? I was screaming from the inside. Then he asked about my profession and I explained I was a performer and artist – but without going into too much detail. I was sweating from the heat and had that thing where you feel guilty even though you haven’t done anything. The more I sweated the more guilty I felt.
“Mrs Forrest would you mind coming with me please”, asked the stern faced officer, “Not at all”, I replied.
“Have you been to a burlesque show before”, I stammered. Why? I couldn’t tell you. It just popped right out my mouth. He looked at me over his shoulder and I couldn’t see any emotion what so ever in this guy’s face due to his dead eyes and moustache.
“I can’t say that I have”, slipped out the reply in a dead pan, monotone voice. This was followed by a deathly silence. I gulped trying to get moisture into my lips and body. The ofﬁcer lead me into another room, where other equally scary ofﬁcers sat in their ‘boxes of judgement’. The phone rang, and one of them picked up the phone. His eyes met mine. “she’s just arrived now” he said still keeping eye contact. I looked at the clock and then over to the other equally sweaty, guilty looking innocents sat beside me. Were they innocent? I’ve seen Australia’s Front Line, you can never tell.
My mind totally ran away from me. I am not getting the ﬂight, I can’t use my phone, and they are going to put me on a ﬂight back to the UK. At this point I wa
s shaking and expecting the worse.
“Mr Brazil, can you step forward.”
The poor gentleman next to me stands up and is subsequently told he is not getting his ﬂight to Washington. Well as you can guess, another tear jerking moment of emotion for Xarah Forrest. I was next, my name was called.
I walked to the ofﬁcer and saw the moustache begin to move. “Is this your bag”. He showed me a photograph of my shoe case. “Yes sir” (my husband taught me that) “And this bag”. “Yes it is”.
My heart was pounding so heavily through my chest I could hear it and my eyes still welling up. “Have a nice ﬂight” he said with a tinkle of his moustache and a smile.
I breathed a sigh of relief and walked out to get my connecting ﬂight to San Francisco. I was still in shock as I queued up for the ﬂight; I really didn’t think I would make it this far, I realised that this was my ﬁnal hurdle and there was nothing more to do now than relax, pop a valium, watch a movie and have a well-deserved drink.
Now back to THE REUNION… I made my way down the escalator as elegantly as I could with a hand bag weighing the same as a large child. My sunglasses were slipping down my nose from the sweltering heat, and my new wedges had already started to cut into my toes. As I reached the bottom step I looked around and was confused as to where the baggage claim began and where the airport arrivals lounge ended. It was all so overwhelming and I started to shake with anxiety and nerves. This didn’t last long as I heard the familiarity of a certain wolf-whistle.
I turned around, and there he was. His beautifully tattooed body and California sun-kissed tan (which I might add I’m extremely jealous of) popping out that tight white vest. My heart fluttered; I still ﬁnd him as insanely attractive as I did that ﬁrst moment I set eyes upon him at the Paradise Pub comedy night in west London almost 3 years before our ﬁrst date. What’s different now is that I call him my husband, my old man, MY MAN.
As I looked into those sparkling baby blues and smiled I felt a surge of completeness as he encircled me in his arms.
I lost myself for a while as we kissed. I needed pinching, ‘was I really here with him?’ my valium, Malbec fuelled, jet lagged brain was asking me in the mist of our romantic embrace. He took my hand without a word and led me through the crowd and it was at this point my eyes caught sight of absolutely everybody staring at us from around the baggage carousel. AWKWARD!
So, the ‘Forrest’ family is nearly complete as we make our way over to collect the boys from their BA ﬁrst class direct ﬂight. Time for their story: they have been through just as a traumatic time as I did. Mr White had started to chew the tip off his tail at the loss of his alpha-male, and moving not only from another home but to another country, and Mister S, well, what can I say about Stoody, the Doody maker, Mister Stooderbaker. NOTHING. He took everything in his stride like a wiener dog to the hills. We have been to the ends of the earth literally to have our family back together and here we all are. I wasn’t aware that dogs suffer from jet lag also, and worse than their human counterparts.
Everything started to sink in properly once we exited the airport. The sun glistened upon the water blinding me, the Golden Gate Bridge was just in my sight and alkatraz was way off in the distance. burst into tears of happiness. With Stoody at my feet barking at his own shadow, Mr Whites jet lagged lip just sitting frothing on my shoulder and my husband’s hand rubbing my knee it finally hit home – we were all together again and in the sunny CA of the USA. The wolf-pack. I’d done it. In 8 weeks, packed, moved countries, sorted pet passports and vaccines, ﬂights. My husband being deported 2months previous had all come to this moment and, what a beautiful moment it was. As I sobbed Steve just looked at me, smiled and all he said was, “you’re home now”… I laughed through my tears. This was the start of our new adventure, our new book, our life in the USA…
If you’re looking for previous parts:
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Part 3 is here
Our interview with Steve Forrest that ties in is here
Blog by Xarah Xavier
Edited by Alex Hooper-Hodson