After exhausting the evening with friends, food, and beer, two friends drove me to SFO at midnight. Amid hugs we said goodbye for the next three months. One of my friend's eyes were red with emotion.
"I'll really miss you guys, I love you," I asserted with a sigh and a wave as they drove away.
I approached the ticket counter content to be on a flight. I envisioned sitting on the plane, the provided pillow behind my head and blanket up to my chin as I watched some newly released movie and then sunk into sleep-deprived oblivion for the following ten hours. I lay my passport on the counter with a full-toothed Julia Roberts smile.
The airline attendant flippantly flipped through my passport.
"Where's your visa?" she asked.
With that word I heard hindrance and my plane-visions parted like the Red Sea.
"Visa? I was told I didn't need a visa before departure but could get one upon arrival," I said, sounding like a fourteen-year-old boy going through puberty.
"Oh no, you can't go to India without a visa. You're going to have to go home, get a visa, and re-book your flight after you have one."
"I was told by four different people that I could get a visa on arrival."
"Who told you that? I promise you, you can't. We can't even check you in if you don't have a visa."
"Okay. What does that mean?"
"That means that you have to go to the Indian consulate to get a visa. Then you can fly to India."
"Right. Got that, but how long does that usually take? I've always just gotten them at borders. I pay money and then they stamp my passport."
"It could take anywhere from one day to two weeks. I don't know, I don't work at a consulate. I work at an airline. I just check for the visas," she informed me as if I had a brain the size of a chipmunk's.
"Damn. Okay," I said and turned away, defeated like LeBron James after Bill Walker dunked on him.
I called my friends who returned to pick me up. It was only after I got back in the car that I realized my friend's eyes weren't red because she was sad at my departure, but rather because she had taken a few hits of weed before we went to the airport.