Saturday, August 4, 2012
Countdown to Abu Dhabi: Six Days (And Some Musings).
It is a beautiful, bright Georgia morning. Jim is still sleeping. I made a cup of coffee, let the dog out, fed him, and am now sitting in my living room looking out the window in my living room. The window is massive and affords an unfettered view of the following: the sunshine bending her rays through the branches of the old live oak tree, Scott’s car keeping guard in his driveway (so he’s home today and I can go bug him!), the neighbor’s cat sauntering across the newly manicured lawn casting her eye about for a careless squirrel, the colorful almost twinkling rainbow bottle tree that stands between my yard and Scott’s. This is the last Saturday morning in which to enjoy this familiar routine for quite some time...
This time next week I will be in Abu Dhabi trying to figure out what in the hell I will do on Saturday mornings now that I won’t have a Georgia window to peer out of. Next week, I’ll be encased in a multi storied (in more way than one!) hotel that will probably look down over a construction site or a road that is jammed with traffic. I must video my current Georgia view so I can loop play it on my computer when the homesickness hits hard in Abu Dhabi .
So many things still left to do before I leave. Small tasks: make multiple copies of my passport photos, mail letters I have written to friends, load money onto a VISA card so I won’t have to carry too much cash around, scan the hardcopies of my medical records, scan two workbooks that might come in handy in the classroom, make certain all my travel papers are in order and placed into an accessible area in my carry-on luggage, get a final weight on each piece of baggage so I won’t have to pay over weight charges, phone Blue Cross and the pharmacy Monday morning and make sure all of my medications’ travel waivers are in order, buy an extra camera battery, set up Skype premium, and load the Buffalo router onto my laptop.
My initial flight itinerary was for August 8, but Nirvana travel agency (the agency handling the flights for the 2012 Abu Dhabi teachers) must have known that I would not be a happy camper with an almost six hour layover in Chicago because they changed my flight to August 9. So, now I am flying Royal Jordanian instead of Etihad Airlines. My updated itinerary has me leaving Atlanta for Chicago at 5:30 p.m., enjoying a brief two hour and twenty minute layover in Chi Town, and then boarding another plane for a twelve hour flight to Amman, Jordan. In Jordan I will have another two hour layover, then board the final flight for the three hour journey to Abu Dhabi. My ETA into Abu Dhabi is fifteen minutes after midnight- The Witching Hour.. I already phoned the airline and booked my seats. Window seats all the way so I can prop my pillow against the wall and maybe at least snooze a little.
I now have an extra day in which to enjoy my family, my home, my dog, my friends, my bed. The extra day means more times I can wrap my arms around Jim and hold him close. The extra day means I get to take my little dog, Truman, for one more walk. The extra day means one more opportunity to hug my Mom and let her know how much I love her. One more day to do the little things. One more day to make sure I have all the essentials packed. One more day to drive to the local grocery store and see old friends (that’s where we congregate in my small town). One more day to water my flowers. One more day to cook a meal for Jim. One more day to spend in our front room library, curl up in my reading chair, and get lost amidst the shelves and shelves of books that Jim and I have collected.
One more day in which to watch the plumeria tree that I have been tenderly, almost obsessively babying for the past three years (the cutting arriving from Hawaii wrapped in tissue paper, tucked into my carry on luggage) in the hopes of witnessing the first white petaled blooms. The buds are shyly showing themselves. I am waiting anxiously for them to open before I leave. Each day I pass by the plumeria tree, touch the leaves and almost beg the tree, “Please, please, let me see the flowers before I leave”.
My Miley left this morning to go back to Florida. She almost breathed a child’s sigh of relief when she realized that I was leaving for Abu Dhabi after she left, not before. She said she didn’t want me to leave her, but that it was okay for her to leave me.. When I come back Christmas, Miley will be back in Georgia for the holidays, and Miley’s new little brother will have made his grand appearance and will meet his Gigi for the first time. Miley will be able to educate the small one in the wonders and sometime frustrations of having a Gigi who captures bugs in washed out mayonnaise jars, head bangs joyously to AC/DC , makes up stories about Blue Bubble Monsters, and convinces children that she can tell if they are truly hungry by the appearance of hungry bumps on their tongues. Now that Miley and I won’t be together, who will remind me how to view the world through the kaleidoscope of a child’s eyes?
Dad is still in Emory Hospital . I was so hoping that he would be home by the time I left. I don’t want to remember him in that hospital. I want to remember him sitting in the swing in his back yard, his face cocked to catch a late evening breeze, a content smile gracing his lips. Maybe it can still happen. Maybe.
I took this photo this past Sunday at the hospital. The love between my Mom and Dad is still alive and evident after all these years, and even through the ravages of Alzheimer’s. This is what I will choose to remember.
This time next Saturday I will be exhausted by jet lag, my emotions will be raw, the enormity of what I have undertaken will begin to take root, my heart will miss the comfort of knowing that Jim is just a another room away, and I will be acclimating myself to the beginnings of a new life seven thousand miles from all I know and love. Pretty tall order, but there will be other newly arriving teachers in Abu Dhabi walking in similar shoes. Other teachers missing family, keeping their trepidations and fears at bay, and attempting to navigate a new path. In fact, several of them will be on my flights. I won’t be alone. There is comfort in that knowledge. There is also comfort in the fact that some of the seasoned, veteran Abu Dhabi teachers have offered their support, knowledge and assistance to us "newbies".
This past summer will live forever in my memory as the summer that tested my resolve and strength. The summer I first experienced the crushing sudden loss of a friend to death and the ensuing grief; the summer I watched a best friend go through a horrendous second round of chemo and his, hopefully, final home stretch battle with cancer; the summer that the enormity and truth of Alzheimer’s was revealed in all its raw ugliness and sadness; the summer I made a decision that will affect the rest of my life. This is the summer my heart broke, but was wired back into place by the love of my husband and the brightness and joy of my granddaughter. The summer in which I will finally spread my arms wide, close my eyes, and leap off the cliff. I don’t know what awaits me “over the pond” in Abu Dhabi. I am hoping it is positive and good, but one never knows..
We take chances, and hope for the best. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,/I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference”.
I keep repeating the above Frost lines like a mantra.
Thursday when I board the plane, I will choose my road with tears in my eyes and a heart weighed down by "what ifs", but with a discerning eye fixed on a new horizon and new possibilities.
Posted by Liti