Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thoughts from the Airport and Afterwards: 7/27/11


I was fine until we got to security.  All through the drive to Minneapolis, all through the night in which I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep much, I was excited more than anything.  All the anxiety and fear I’d felt in the preceding weeks was strangely pushed to a deep corner, and I didn’t feel it at all. 

I was fine, until we got to security, and it was time for goodbyes.  I looked at Liz, and her eyes were already spilling over with tears.  I gave her a long hug, then turned to Mom, who had also started crying.  I didn’t know I had so many tears in my eyes at that moment. 

When I entered security, the TSA agent asked where I was headed, and why.  When I told him I was moving for two years, he asked, “Is that why you’re sad?”  He didn't just ask, “is that why you’re crying?” No.  “Is that why you’re sad?”  Yes, I guess it is.  And now I’m crying again.  Thank you, friendly TSA agent. 

The first flight was great…except for the woman who smelled of cigarettes right next to me and the Indian family directly behind me with the 2 year old who wailed during take-off and descent and kicked my seat periodically.  The flight also included some turbulence which was fun.  Other than that, I slept through the entire flight.  I wonder if I’ll stay more awake on the next one?  I’m still really excited to arrive…but I’m nervous about finding Eddie Gonzalez in the airport—or outside of the airport?  No one ever told me where to go.  And if he’s not there…what do I do?  Who do I even call?

7/27/11 Recap of events
I wasn’t more awake on the next flight.  Well, I was a little bit.  I kept waking up, but I kept just forcing myself to go back to sleep.  The nearer we got to Puerto Rico, the greater my anxiety became.  I found myself thinking, “Do you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into?  You can’t get out of this.  It’s two whole years!”  As we began our descent into San Juan, a knot formed in my stomach.

I got off the plane and headed for baggage claim, just focusing on the task at hand and trying to keep myself composed.  I began shivering at the baggage claim—I think it genuinely was chilly, but I believe nerves had something to do with my shaking. 

All four of my bags came through, which was a relief.  I decided to forgo using a porter, who would expect a tip, and somehow managed to move through the airport and out the door with 3 fifty pound bags and 2 carry-ons.  Once I got outside, with the help of a stranger or two and after several phone calls with Eddie Gonzalez (Mr. Delgado had given him my number and he called me, thankfully), I found him and he loaded my luggage into the SUV. 

We had 3 hours to wait until Chamron’s flight got in—not enough time to drop me off in Guayama and get back—so Eddie drove me around Old San Juan, showed me the old fort, etc.  We parked the car and walked a bit, then stopped in a restaurant for something to eat.  I got a mofongo, which is a Puerto Rican dish made of mashed plantains and stuffed with meat.  It came with AMAZING shrimp inside and on top.  Mmmmmm.  No leftovers. 

As we finished eating, the thunder began.  We stepped outside and stood under an overhang, hoping to wait out the rain, but it was coming down in sheets with no sign of stopping.  Eddie said he’d go get the car and pick me up, but I told him no way, that I wouldn’t melt and would run with him.  It was a thoroughly drenching rain, and all the streets were flooding.  There were puddles in my shoes as we finally made it to the car, me laughing and Eddie not so much. 

We picked up Chamron from the airport then, then made the hour drive back to Guayama.  Because Chamron’s power wasn’t on, he stayed the night with me.  The girls (Danielle and Kelsey), who live just down the street, came over to say hello, as did Zach, who lives in Casa Benny.  We sat and talked, getting to know each other a little bit, for an hour or two, and then we all headed for bed. 

By the end of the night, all my nervousness was gone and I was really loving life.  

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