Thursday, July 25: It’s 6:00 p.m. and my plane has landed at just the minute it was scheduled to land despite being delayed in Heathrow for a half hour. My bag is one of the first on the baggage conveyor, so I grab it and head quickly through immigration (no queue!), then I’m waved on through customs. I walk into Arrivals, looking for Mike’s face. Both the boys have to work tonight, so he’s the one who has been designated to pick me up.
His face is conspicuously absent.
I keep looking around thinking maybe we have missed each other in the crowd. But, no. There is no sign of him. I don’t have a phone that works (my Oman phone has no money on it and it doesn’t work in any country other than Oman anyway except for texting) and I have a wallet full of 85 euros and not a single American cent. No ATM is in the vicinity. I wonder if he’s forgotten me or if he’s just delayed. I do all I can do: I wait. And wait. And wait.
Finally, I hear his voice as he’s running to Arrivals: “Cathy!” We do the European kiss-on-the-cheek thing and he tells me he had called the airline and they said they’d be delayed a half hour so he took his time getting here.
WELCOME HOME! 🙂
At home, there is no welcoming committee as both boys are driving helter-skelter through the streets & traffic of northern Virginia delivering pizzas for Paisano’s. It’s strange walking into the house where I have lived off and on for 20 years. Our Border Collie Bailey, who has gotten older and chubbier, still recognizes me and his back-end is wagging like it has a mind of its own. I walk around the top two floors of the house, reacquainting myself, and check out my room to find it’s become the dumping ground for stuff the boys have decided to dispose of. Oh joy. I will have to clean it out before I can even begin to unpack, or to sleep.
I have a room in the basement where I keep my excess clothes (of which I have a lot!) and Mike warns me not even to go down there tonight, otherwise I’ll ruin my first night home. Oh dear. I restrain myself and figure I’ll deal with it tomorrow.
Mike and I have a long chat, Alex comes home from work around 9:00 and he joins in the conversation after hugs and kisses. Adam works till midnight so it’s unlikely I’ll be awake to greet him tonight. I have Alex carry my suitcase upstairs and begin to move all the stuff from my room back from whence it came, into the boys’ rooms.
I go to bed nestled into piles and piles of stuff from my half-unpacked suitcase. The new adventure begins. 🙂
Friday, July 26: My first order of business today is to get a phone. I go to Verizon fully intending to get a Samsung Android, but then I drift over to the iPhone where I see the benefits of that phone. 🙂 Before I know it, I’ve laid out $323 to buy the phone ($199), a waterproof case ($89! ~ what a sucker I am!), and by golly, if I buy the car charger TODAY, I can get $5 off. And don’t forget the sales tax, which I haven’t had to deal with anywhere in my travels in the last 3 years! Ouch.
I play around with my phone a good long while, trying to get used to it. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the touch screen keypad. I add a bunch of apps to the phone, and over the next couple of days I realize all those apps are draining the battery and I promptly remove them!
Later in the afternoon, I walk around the house and take pictures of some of what I see. I don’t even bother taking pictures of all the clutter as it’s way too embarrassing. 😦
I clear off my old desk just enough to hook up my computer and begin to create a workspace.
In the last year, Mike has insisted that the boys start buying their own food. As they are living at home while attending community college, he feels it’s time for them to start contributing to the expenses. Since they eat a lot of fruit, especially bananas, they have taken over the dining room table. Masking tape and labels serve as the dividing lines.
Mike spends most of his free time biking with a Reston biking club; he has two expensive bikes that he keeps inside the house as our garage door is often open and he doesn’t want someone snatching them. I guess I will have to deal with their stuff cluttering the dining room as we rarely entertain anymore anyway. A dining room is kind of a useless room anyway except several times a year.
Adam and Alex are always environmentally conscious, so they have now created a composting bin in the backyard and here is some of their most recent composting stuff: banana peels and eggshells.
Both the boys love doing gymnastics moves and they’ve created a kind of outdoor gym in our backyard. I have always hated our yard as we have a huge side yard, a small somewhat sunken front yard, and a tiny strip of backyard that slopes downhill. Because of the humid and wet nature of Virginia, it’s always overgrown with weeds and rapidly growing grass. Adam has taken on a project this summer of clearing out weeds, laying out cardboard, and spreading mulch on top to make the backyard area a little nicer for working out. He’s been working on it diligently all summer, making numerous trips to Home Depot and the garden center.
I try to get Bailey to pose for a picture, but every time I snap, he looks away. I keep saying “Bailey, Bailey!” He gets irritated and starts barking and Alex says I’ve caught him in his normal state of being.
Alex tries to do a fancy move on his gymnastic rings.
The front yard is pretty overgrown right now. I find Mike has planted some rudbeckia near the road.
I sit on my couch and write a blog post about my trip to Spain. I’m way behind as I intended to post as I went along, but found it way too time-consuming and now will have to continue with it once I settle in here.
Every time I return home to this house, I’m flabbergasted by how much we have accumulated over the years. I’ve decided I’m going to be ruthless in sorting out things and giving things to Goodwill, or Purple Heart, or anyone who will take it! For example, we have tons of books. Here is just one bookshelf that is filled with JUST books of short stories. I have another shelf devoted to poetry, another to non-fiction, and the novels are spread all over the house.
Here’s the entryway.
And here’s my room, filled with collections from my travels. Now I have a lot more stuff I’ve collected, but I have absolutely nowhere to put any of it.
By now, I’ve ventured into that basement room that serves as my closet for excess clothes, and I’ve found the disaster Mike warned me about. I spend the rest of my day trying to make some kind of order of the whole mess so I can start unpacking the 3 suitcases the boys brought home from Oman in January along with the 93 kilos of stuff I shipped by cargo from Oman. Plus the stuff I accumulated on my trip through Spain and Portugal. Argh! 🙂
Once again, I can’t help but think of George Carlin’s spiff on “Stuff.”
That’s the whole meaning of life, isn’t it? Trying to find a place for your stuff.
That’s all your house is, a pile of stuff with a cover on it!