(with apologies once again to Simon and Garfunkel)
Many's the time I've been mistaken, and many times confused
Yes and I've often felt forsaken, and certainly misused
Ah but I'm alright, I'm alright, I'm just weary thru my bones
Still you don't expect to be bright and bon-vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home
After days of activity and weeks of planning, our family is on the plane. *The Plane*.
This last week has been like living inside a tornado. What to bring now, what to pack for the air shipment, what to leave for the boat? What can we live without for a little while, what will we just buy again in the US? At least the uncertainty of IF we can find things, which we experienced on the way here, is missing. We know what we are going to find, what to expect. And this is one of the deepest comforts of all.
Our journey home began at 3:00pm on Friday, when the taxi arrived (an appropriately Swiss stick-shift conversion van with a trailer hitched behind. We left 2 bags lighter than when we came - the official count is 9 suitcases, 1 box, and 1 stroller.
Arriving at the hotel, we quickly settled in, had dinner (they served a French wine named "la grenouille" - the frog. It really wasn't that bad though), and crashed. We had to be up early the next day. 4:00am to be exact.
And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered or driven to its knees
But it's alright, it's alright, for we live so well, so long
Still, when I think of the road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong, I can't help it I wonder what's gone wrong
It is impossible for our thoughts not to travel back over the last 7 months here - over the last 9 months since we embarked on this adventure. Our very own "There and Back Again". And like Bilbo Baggins in that first Tolkein story, we too feel that we raced out of the house without so much as a handkerchief in our pocket, and are now returning to our warm hobbit-hole having experienced a great deal, both good and bad, and are richer for the entire thing.
Our conversations have returned time and again over the last few weeks to our reasons for coming here, our reasons for cutting the adventure short, our reasons for needing to come home. In looking back, it's hard to say that we wouldn't have made the same choices, but it's equally hard to say whether that would have been better in the end.
Everyone woke up on time and ready to go. There were really no hiccoughs along the way. We found breakfast, got past security without having to remove our shoes or any other articles of clothing, and boarded the flight to Copenhagen. As the plane took off both girls shouted "Meemah, here we come!".
2 short hours later we flew past the modern, gigantic windmills standing in the water of the Copenhagen harbor. We had just a little while to wait before our flight to New York began.
And I dreamed I was dying, I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me, smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying, and high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty, sailing away to sea, and I dreamed I was flying
We left with a crowd of other people, all bound for different parts of the world but whose paths brought them to Newark, New Jersey. The flight was overbooked by 30 people, and we were very happy that we had gotten all our paperwork done ahead of time.
It was a long flight, to our perception longer than any other we had taken. As we came closer the flight attendants began serving a second meal. Heather asked why and we reminded her that, in America, it was about lunch time.
"But not all these people are going to America" she said.
"Heather, I can guarantee you that everyone on this plane is going to be in America for at least a little while." Leon reminded her.
"But I thought we were landing in New York.".
Hmm. Perhaps more emphasis on geography is needed.
We flew past New York, past Lady Liberty, and we were reminded about how suddenly things can change, both big and small.
This is also a time to look forward. Where will we live? What will we do for work? Where will we go to school? Who will be our neighbors? (Heather decided that since we lived near horses in Switzerland, we should live near cows in Solon. This was vetoed by the grownups however. Spoilsports.) Where will we be sitting in just a few months, on August 30, 2002 when we look at each other and say "remember what we were doing this time last year?"?
Feelings of excitement, concern, optimism, and fear mingle uncomfortably in our stomachs. But this is a road we've traveled before, and we know that it will come out all right in the end, even if we can't see that end at this moment.
But we come on a ship they called Mayflower
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We come in the ages' most uncertain hours and sing an American tune
And it's alright, oh it's alright, it's alright, you can be forever blessed
Still tomorrow's gonna be another working day and I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying, to get some rest
Our flight was late, and it took a great deal of time to navigate our 10 bags and 5 people through immigration, customs, and security again. We arrived at the gate for the Cleveland flight with just 15 minutes to spare. And that was when we were treated to American hospitality at work.
This flight was also overbooked, and it had been declared "open seating". Which meant that while there were 5 seats available, none of them were together.
It was obvious that one person would need move over so that Debbie and Joram could sit together. And someone gave up their seat graciously enough when they saw her coming down the aisle. (Although a couple of college-age girls did offer to hold Joram throughout the flight. They ended up sitting in the row behind him and kept him entertained most of the time).
But when Leon began trying to find places for himself, Heather, and Isabelle, you could see the dubious looks on people's faces. Heather certainly looked big enough to make it though a 1.5 hour flight on her own. Isabelle, less so but perhaps if Leon just sat close.... You could see people weighing the situation in their minds. And then...
One person moved to a middle seat. Then the person next to her. Now Leon and Isabelle at least could sit together. The last man in the row looked up, and with a sigh offered his seat too. The flight attendant was near tears at people's generosity. Leon offered deepest thanks to those who moved (usually to a seat in between two larger people), and then pointed out "odds are that the girls probably wouldn't throw up during the flight, but this might be best choice for everyone!". People laughed, the flight took off, and we were heading on the last leg of our 16 hour odyssey home.
We arrived at Debbie's Mom's house. The first order of business was dinner - Chinese food, something we haven't had since leaving the US. Debbie was also re-united with Macaroni, who was surprisingly lenient in scolding us for leaving him for so long. After a few seconds of pouting, he proceeded to sit down next to Joram and purr loudly. Joram lovingly proceeded to attempt to pull the cat's ears and gouge out his eyes. Macaroni didn't seem the least bit disturbed.
After getting to bed at 7:00pm, Joram awoke bright and early at.... midnight. After all, it was 6:00am according to him and why let good play time go to waste. By 4:00am everyone (except Nancy) was up and moving. It is remarkable the things you can get done with so little sleep. Bags were unpacked and organized, journals entries written, breakfast eaten, etc.
At 11:30 Debbie and Leon left to find the house of their dreams. The girls had the better end of the deal, spending the day eating Meemah out of house and home, and generally helping her remember why motherhood (especially motherhood with 3 children) is best left to the young.
Debbie and Leon returned at 8:00pm, after seeing many many houses and placing an offer on the one that "spoke" to them the most. At the time of this writing we don't have any details on whether the offer was accepted or not, but we will keep everyone posted. We will talk to you all very soon.
Leon, Debbie, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram
PS: For those who would like to call, Nancy's phone number is: 330-405-1357. For our friends in Switzerland, please remember that we are 6 hours *behind* Central European time.