This is my first blog post written in Lebanon. We arrived late last night: a family of five, a stroller, and nine suitcases. Our new employer had arranged for someone to pick us up and take us to our hotel, where we will spend a few days until we find an apartment. After 31 hours of travel, we all showered and crashed, exhausted, relieved that the trip had gone so well, and happy to finally be here.
The night before we were leaving Indiana, I went to K-mart with Courtney and my mother-in-law. I’m not sure what our initial errand entailed, but as I entered I got that panicky feeling I’ve learned I always get when I’m about to leave a home. Did I miss something? Did I say all the things I wanted to? Did I do all the things I had planned? Did I buy everything I wanted to bring with me when I leave? Of course, we never manage to see everyone, do all the things we plan to, and there’s always something I forget to buy. Even if I did though, this feeling always overwhelms me. Our few weeks in the US had gone by so quickly, and now it was time for us to go; leave for our new home and life.
We left the house in the morning, drove to the bus stop in Highland, IN, said sad good-byes to our family, took Coach USA to Chicago O’Hare, and got checked in. After we got through security, we looked at each other and around, trying to figure out where to get something to eat. As we stood there in the busy terminal, a man – some random guy – handed us a list of food places and where to find them. I said to Courtney, “this is almost going too well!” A couple of Quiznos subs later, we found ourselves getting on our first flight to London Heathrow. We learned that the man at the check-in desk had bumped us to Economy Plus where there’s more leg room, and shortly after take-off, Abraham was sound asleep in my arms. I can’t sleep with him on my lap, but at least he’s still and happy, so that I can relax during the flight. The rest of the trip went just as great. When Abraham was not sleeping, he was either reading a book, or drawing on his doodle pad. It was like one of those Mastercard commercials: “Doodle pad, $8.99. A quiet and happy toddler on a full, cross-Atlantic flight, priceless.”
Heathrow has no kids area, which is a bummer, but we somehow managed to pass a couple of hours without incidence. Our flight to Cairo was on time, and once in Cairo, even though our transfer was anything but ordinary and took hours, it went smoothly. The last flight to Beirut was pleasantly short. I dozed off a bit – I guess +-30 hours without sleep is about all I can master. By the time we landed we were all so tired, tears were coming down our cheeks, but we had made it! Against all odds we got all our luggage, and passport control, transfer to our hotel, and everything else went beyond expectation. We even, in our hazed state, picked up a couple of bottles at the duty free shop.
Because of the Eid holiday, we have a couple of days to recover from the trip and get over our jet-lag, before dealing with all that is entailed in moving to a new country; finding an apartment, getting all our paper work in order, acquiring IDs, bank accounts, locating and receiving our shipment, setting up a household, and moving in. Although we are eager to get started on all that, I’m glad we have a couple of days to rest and recharge.