My heart was racing now.. I was there. I was in Hawaii! Was this really happening? Surely not.
But there I was!
“Anyone with pets on the cabin, please see the flight attendants before you exit the plane,” the pilot announced over the intercom. I looked at the booklet in back of the seat in front of me while people around me got their things and filed out. I’d never heard this announcement before, probably because I’d never before happened to be on a plane that had a pet in the cabin somewhere. This announcement was just for me, wasn’t it.
According to the card, I was going to be directed to animal quarantine officers that would be present, and I would have to surrender my pet to them along with any paperwork that I had.
I’d have to surrender Sansa to them? I couldn’t go with her??????
My heart was in my throat. I was tired, as I’ve said, but after all of that paperwork that I’d done so that she would be approved to enter Hawaii without going through the terrible 120-day quarantine that was standard, I’d still have to be parted from her? Oh. My. God.
If you’re not an animal parent with an unhealthy attachment to their little furry (or not so furry, not so little) one, it might be hard to understand how I felt when I read that. Sansa was my only family, and I’d gladly spend my last cent on pet food for her and go hungry if it came down to that one day. If you have kids, imagine that you had a 2 year old who was terrified to be parted from you, in a new place, and had to surrender him/her at the airport in order for them to be inspected. In fact, for all that you know, your little one might not be approved to enter Hawaii and be put into a tiny concrete run for the next three months, and your only recourse would be to let them, or turn around and leave the state?
That’s how it felt for me, but of course I had no choice.
I spoke to the flight attendants at the front of the plane when I exited, and they directed me to two animal quarantine officers right outside the door of the plane (on the walkway). When I handed them Sansa’s carrier and told her goodbye, I nearly choked up. She was meowing, now. I was such a failure as a mother.. right? ;___; Not able to protect my little one, even if only so because I was bound by laws. I’m trying not to be overly dramatic, but this is my beloved little one. My family. Taylor Swift would understand my pain, I’d like to think.
The quarantine officers seemed nice enough, and they told me that I should look for another officer at baggage claim. Feeling intense trepidation, I told Sansa that it would be alright, and left, feeling lighter physically, but so, so much heavier mentally. My baby..
It took me a little while to find baggage claim, but I eventually did. I collected my two giant suitcases and put them onto a cart along with my carry-on, looking around for both my friends/hosts who were supposed to meet me there, and animal quarantine. There was nobody except for an airline agent helping a man who had apparently had something stolen from his checked bag (ouch).
After she was free, I asked her, and she looked at me like I was crazy. “Animal quarantine officers don’t come down here. You have to go to their office, outside just a little ways off to the left.”
O_______O That was my face. WHAT? Why had I been told to meet someone here? And more importantly… with this kind of misinformation (or lying?), was I even going to get my baby back without raising a fuss? And believe me, there would be one if things didn’t go well. I could feel that all-too-familiar anxiety twisting up inside of my gut, the same one that reared its ugly head any time that I had no say over what was happening to me.
“Thank you,” I said, although I didn’t feel it in my heart. Nobody knows what they’re doing here. Why don’t you take this more seriously?! is what I wanted to scream. But, surely it wasn’t her fault, and I wouldn’t make an innocent person’s day go sour if I could help it, so I marched off dutifully.
Oh yeah, and where are my friends? I wanted to know.
I exited baggage claim and turned left, peering through the people, looking for animal quarantine. Instead, I saw two people who were vaguely familiar… Jeremiah and Kelly, who were here to pick me up! I ran over to them, grateful that I was no longer alone, but still feeling the weight of minutes ticking by while Sansa was being… what? Poked and prodded? Shoved in a cage? Scared?
“Hi….!” We hugged. It’s weird. Jeremiah is someone I went to high school with, but we barely talked. He dated one of my close friends back then, and was also close with another friend. We certainly hadn’t talked in the 15 or so years that had passed since high school. But he was here on Hawaii now, with a very sweet wife, Kelly. They lived on one of the military bases, as he was stationed here, and I was so, so incredibly lucky that they’d offer to open up their home to me while I looked for a job and an apartment.
They had also come here with a dog (not in-cabin, though), so they knew where to go. Jeremiah took my bags off to the car, while Kelly and I headed off to animal quarantine. Which, by the way, was a good ten minute walk away, not “a little ways off to the left,” as the woman inside had told me. ARGH. While we waited inside of the nearly unidentifiable office (it was one of a series of beige doors in a beige wall on the outside of the airport, marked only by a tiny sign above the door), she talked to me about how she’d felt just as anxious as me when they flew over with their dog, Arson, and how it would be fine. Things would be alright. She helped me so, so much.
I had to submit more paperwork, and fill out some more forms, but when I saw a woman in a lab coat (!) coming my way with a familiar little black cat carrier in her arms, my heart jumped. My Sansa!!!! My little Sansa!!!!! She was alright, though as scared as ever, and we headed outside to wait for Jeremiah to come and pick us up in the car.
I was just about to collapse from emotional and physical exhaustion, and I hadn’t even taken a single photo yet. That was my first hour in Hawaii. Aloha.
It gets better, and there are plenty of pictures coming, so hang in there, you guys! I’m going through comments little by little, so it may be a while before you get a reply, but I read every single one, and love them as well! Keep them coming! <3