After three years of traveling back and forth, this trip is the one which was always looming – my actual move to China. I wish I could say it feels significantly different, but it really doesn’t, although is some small way it seems slightly more momentous. However, that might be due to the vast amount of luggage I am toting.

The lead up to this has been interesting, with a true acceleration in the last 6-8 weeks, between Alien Residence Licenses, a dozen or more vaccinations, remedial dental work, shopping for things to bring and to bring them in. In addition to preparing on the home front, I close out my office up the hill, the same location I’ve been driving to for the last 18+ years. Like this move, I dug deep into my suitcase of emotions but pretty much came up empty handed. Perhaps the most significant thing was that all my time up on the mesa was reduced to a mere three boxes.

On the family front, we had our first group Thanksgiving in many years, an event that was really wonderful though 3 weeks early. It was planned that way because this year I will be sitting in my temporary bachelor pad while the Western World loads up on turkey and the fixings. It was a bit odd to be working off the last of our stuffing and bird leftovers while everyone around me was talking about what to cook.

Following that grand weekend, I moved into packing and planning mode, running errands to buy the last of my necessities (water sterilizer, down vest, a couple of hats) and starting to lay out all the things I wanted to bring. That effort alone painted this trip in a slightly different light – no scrimping this time, everything I wanted would be with me from a digital media player loaded with purloined television shows to an unlimited supply of Vitamin C.

With the trip really in sight, I loaded and zipped up the two big bags and packed/re-packed my carry-on bag a half-dozen times in an attempt at true, space/weight optimization.

The base reality of it all came back at 4:30 this morning when we rolled out of bed in order to make it to the airport in time for my 6:27 departure. That part of this trip will never be acceptable, and unless it suddenly adjusts itself to 9 AM, it will always be the same.

I got busted by security for having too many interesting things in my carry-on bag (digital media player, iPod dock, 2 lenses, camera, binoculars, batteries, Steri-Pen, cables, etc.) and so had to endure the extended bag swab check.

When the gate agent announced we were a few minutes from boarding, I decided to run to the rest room, but took a bit too long and made it back to the gate as he was boarding the gold and silver travelers. Looking at my ticket, he apologized for not keeping the Red Carpet line open for me. Status does have its privileges I guess.

The ride to SFO was just as bland as ever. I had the good fortune to sit next to a woman who had an interesting job as a consultant working for a Japanese Buddhist sect that is attempting to make inroads in the US by teaching about service-based religion. Leave it to me to draw that straw. We also had a nice chat about the recent election and the Republican VP candidate in particular.

Arriving early, I took the long route to the International Lounge, passing through security without the extended check and planted myself in a chair to wait until it was time to head to the plane. Everything was fine until two latecomers plopped down in my cul de sac, one of them asking if he could have my table.

I looked at him, looked at the table, looked at him and said, “No.”