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November 10th 2008 by Tina
Coming Home

Posted under U.S.

The long way home from Moscow was broken up into several legs both to ease the transition and make a couple of convenient stops along the way. We re-entered the United States in Boston and made plans to spend one night in the city to meet little Maaden Rooney – pride and joy of dear friends, Mark and Meredith. At the Boston airport we collected our backpacks for almost the last time and stopped at the information desk to get directions to our hotel. The gentleman at the desk was friendly and helpful and we laughed at the wonderful ease of the English-language transaction. It was good to be home.

With smiles plastered on our faces, we walked to the train stop and found our route. On the train, we listened in wonderment as each stop was announced in English. There was no need to count stops or decipher foreign characters. It was brilliant! Then, as we were changing trains, an altercation ensued nearby where, in between the cursing and Ebonics, threats of people getting shot echoed through the underground station. Whoa, reality check! Suddenly, the stars in my eyes were shrouded by a dark cloud as I was reminded that, while America is the greatest country on Earth, not everything is roses.

Seeing Mark, Mer and Maaden was great. We spent about an hour fawning over the little superstar at the hotel and then went to dinner at a place nearby. The menu was excellent but all we wanted was salad – good old American salad with lots of lettuce and fresh ingredients. This, my favorite food, proved to be the most difficult dish to find on the road. Oh, salad is on a lot of menus around the world but often the main ingredient, instead of lettuce, is potatoes or beets or some distant relative of a recognizable vegetable that defeats the whole purpose of ordering a salad in the first place. Pardon the rant – it’s a sensitive subject. Our first American, non-McDonald’s salads were absolutely divine. It was good to be home.

Early the next morning, we flew to Dallas, where we had purposely inserted an 8-hour layover on our way to Phoenix – our temporary final destination. At DFW Airport, we rented a car and drove to our storage unit where we filled two small roller boards with as many jeans, shoes, and sweaters as we could fit inside. We were there for about two hours, sifting through our possessions, smiling at things we forgot we owned, and dazzled by the breadth of our respective wardrobes.

Next, we drove north to our old neighborhood in Keller to cast our vote in the 2008 Presidential Election. Texas is a die hard red state but, since we have been following the campaign from abroad and have visited so many places where, sadly, people do not have the right to vote or are terrorized into voting for corrupt rulers, we felt strongly that it was important to exercise our right to vote for the next leader of our country.

We drove by our old house next to make sure the new owners were keeping the landscaping up to our standards and to reminisce about the life we left behind to pursue a dream. It was a beautiful house and we loved living there but it was so big for the two of us that sometimes we felt swallowed up by all of the empty space, consumed by a need to fill that space with “stuff”. Seeing that house again only reinforced our desire to start small this time.

We stopped for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Southlake on or way back to the airport. The weather was sunny and warm and we sat on the patio, enjoying the superb American service – the friendliest, most attentive service that you can get anywhere in the world.

We finally arrived at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport around 9pm. Aaron’s mom picked us up and drove us back to her place to reunite with our own little pride and joy – a nine-pound furry angel, named Lena (aliases: Lenasaurus Rex, Little Miss Brownbottom, Poop-a-doo, Little Goodie Four-Paws). Her physical absence from our life made each day on the road bittersweet and it wasn’t any easier on the last day of our trip than it was on the first day. We LOVE our dog!

It was a tearful reunion. She was so excited that she was whimpering uncontrollably as she jumped frantically from one of us to the other, smothering us with wet puppy kisses. Her reaction melted our hearts and she has barely left our sides since. As she slowly learns to understand that Momma and Daddy are never leaving her again, we are making up for fourteen months of lost time. We are relieved to find our little furry angel just as we left her. Grandma has spoiled her well.

As we gradually reintegrate ourselves into American life, the experiences that we have had over the past year-and-a-half will shape our values and desires as well as the way we view the world. We are fascinated by the international stage and more plugged into world news than ever before. We are more conscientious about being better global citizens. We want to give more and consume less. We want experiences more than things. We want to be travelers in our own country – there are brilliant things to see within our own borders. Most importantly, we want to live every day as if it were our last; to always be mindful of the blessings in our life. We anticipate many challenges and temptations as we plunge back in to American consumerism and many of our former vices may rear their heads once again. We can only hope that every choice will be made with deeper wisdom and worldly understanding of what is really important.

It’s good to be home.


4 Responses to “Coming Home”

  1. Anonymous on 24 Nov 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Welcome home from an incredible life altering journey. The both of you are extremely blessed and I have loved following your blog. Many wishes during this holiday season and may all of us count our blessings for what the world has provided us.

  2. Anonymous on 24 Nov 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    Thank you for the constant reminder I now have that we truly live in the “United States of Awesomeness”!

    Love, Mom

    PS It’s great to have you visiting with me for awhile.

  3. Anonymous on 25 Nov 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Welcome home! When should we expect to see your book on store shelves? 🙂 How long will you be in Phoenix?

  4. Anonymous on 26 Dec 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    Wellcome home , And thank you much for the trip you have given to all
    of us. Love you!