The Surprise of a Lifetime

Last year when I moved from Australia to the USA, it worked out cheaper to buy a roundtrip fare from Melbourne to Los Angeles than a one-way ticket. The roundtrip fare was $1,300 and the one-way was $2,000, so even if I didn’t use the return flight home, it still worked out to my advantage.

At the time of booking back in April of 2012, I was limited to a maximum 12 month date on my ticket (with no room for a date extension) which put my return date at Thursday April 4, 2013. Instead of letting the flight go to waste, I decided to make use of it and return home to surprise my mum and dad after not having seen them for almost a year and use my QANTAS miles to book myself a one-way flight back to the US.

After seeking approval from my boss back in October of 2012 to work out of Australia for a few days, I went ahead and starting planning this adventure with my brothers, Darren and Chris. My older brother, Darren, is based out in NSW with the Royal Australian Navy so we organized to have him fly in the same weekend and my younger brother, Chris, was responsible for picking me up from the airport. We kept this a secret amongst ourselves for five months.

In the lead up to April 4, I’d told my parents the following lies to help preserve this secret…

1. QANTAS had let me trade in the return leg of my flight for miles into my frequent flyer account.

2. I wasn’t going to be able to come home until Christmas of 2013 due to limited time off work.

3. In case any of my facebook newsfeed activity showed up from Los Angeles during my layover, I told mum I was flying out to LA to attend a work conference with my boss for four days so she wasn’t able to question it.

4. I also told her I ordered a new iPhone and changed service providers and that it would take 24 hours for them to port my old number over from one provider to the other in which my phone would be turned off – that way she wouldn’t panic if she couldn’t reach me via text. This conveniently took place during my 15.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

After a 6 hour flight from Orlando to LA, a 14 hour layover at LAX and then a 15.5 hour direct flight from LA to Melbourne, I finally arrived! Chris appeared at the arrivals gate of Melbourne Airport just as I was walking out. I quickly stopped at the Optus store to pick up a prepaid SIM for my iPhone. We swung by Woolies so I could pick up a bouquet of flowers for mum and then this is how it went down…

While waiting for mum to open the door, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest; slow, long, hard beats. My palms were sweaty and I felt a slight sense of panic as I wondered if any words would come out of my mouth when she (finally) opened the door. My knees started to shake; I felt weak standing on my own two feet. And then tears. I hate crying but if I had to choose, happy tears are amongst my favorite.

After months and months of planning I couldn’t have imagined this going down any better than it did. It was such an awesome, surreal feeling – I can’t imagine how mum and dad must have been feeling but I’m so glad that I did it! I’ve only been home for two days so far and although I’m already missing Orlando and my mates there, I’m enjoying catching up on all the things about home that I’ve been missing…

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We even topped our weekend off with a family photo shoot. Here’s some of my fave shots…

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Excited to see what this week brings…

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