No pictures today. Just thoughts.
Our flight home was very do-able. I flew with my five children...alone. And all the while, I just kept thinking, "We are really surviving this. We really are."
When we came to check in to the airport, my sweet mom and dad were parking the cars, handing the porter money for me, bringing little people inside for me. I walked up to the counter with my two oldest girls. There was NO ONE in line. The agent asked me how much time I had before my flight. I replied, "Two hours." She then said, "Then check yourself in." and directed me to the self-check-in kiosk. I wanted to say, "But CC isn't here. He always does all this." But I didn't.
So I began pressing numbers. I'm a US citizen. I'm a female, etc. etc. Then I had to swipe our passports. But the kiosk wasn't reading them properly. So it began asking me to type in passport numbers, expiration dates, birthdates, etc. for all six of us. Thank goodness, Big Ben hadn't yet made it in to the airport, or we may have all been hearing, 'butt! butt!' (his word for 'button'). I finally finished giving it all the information it wanted and turned back to the agent. By then all the bags were there. The humble African-American porter had made my day with his thankfulness for the tip and his well wishes as we head back on to the field. He said, "See you next summer!" I hope so. He was so nice.
I put the first duffle bag on the scale. At that point, the agent became, well, mean. She said, "It's hanging off the scale, I can't get an accurate read. You are going to have to stand it upright." The scale read 48 lbs. with an inch or two hanging off the scale. So, we propped it upright. Which of course made the bag lean into the walls surrounding the scale. Which of course made the weight drop to 37 lbs. (I smiled on the inside.) She rolled her eyes and said, "OH just FORGET it!" It was then that she realized my duffles don't have wheels. She said, "And how exactly am I supposed to lift these onto the belt with no wheels?!" I didn't say it, but in my head I said, "The same way I lifted them all onto my daddy's truck this morning." Her irritable disposition continued....so much so, that she forgot to charge me for all the extra bags I was transporting for the school. And so, once again, I smiled on the inside, and this time, on the outside too.
We gave our hugs, bid my folks goodbye. I haven't yet, in 13 years, done it without tears. I'm not sure I ever will. Miss Middler, with a sense of humor very much like my mom's, said, "Grandma, curl up in here in my backpack. I think you can fit." And with that, we were off to begin our 20 hour journey.
From that point on, we had the. nicest. airline. staff. ever. They bragged on my kids. They did all they could to make life easier, including dimming the light for me (without me asking) in the back food-service area when I was rocking Big Ben to sleep. (Try rocking a 32 lb. sack of potatoes sometime.) My kids are just really good travelors. Of course after missing a night of sleep, they can begin to melt a little more easily. But they did super. Our longest flight, the 8 hour one, wasn't full, so we scoped out the extra seats near us, and as soon as the seatbelt light went off, we claimed an extra seat near each of us.
As we flew into Turkey, I began to see the minerets. I wondered, "Lord, am I ready for this?" We entered the airport and proceeded to the Turkish police officer. He checked each residence permit and passport, calling out each name, then peering over the counter and winking at each kid. And then we came through and I heard, "I see Papa! I see Papa!" CC was not allowed into baggage claim, but after about 10 minutes he appeared. As I kissed him, I said, "They let you in?" He said, "Well, no." Sheepish smile. Sometimes it's fun to live in a country where you can break an occasional law or two. My girls threw their arms around him. Big Ben stared him down for about 10 seconds, then a big grin broke on his face and he yelled, "Papa!" with that raspy "p" sound he always makes.
We boarded the mini-bus CC had hired to help us get home with all the bags. No air conditioning. No seat belts. Bumps and potholes all the way home. And suddenly everything felt just perfect. We're home. Yes, I think I am ready for this.
Thank you to all who made our summer wonderful. We both appreciate the respite and are glad to be back all at the same time.