We are so happy to back together again! It was a long tough wait, but it was worth it because Elijah and I got to be at my brother’s wedding in North Dakota. We say that we never want to have any time apart again, but the truth is that life isn’t always that simple. If one of us has to work, and the other can be there for a family member, then we know that we will almost always make the sacrifice. It is never easy, but putting others first is important and I am glad that Justin and I are mature enough to know that a little bit of time apart is okay when it really means a lot to someone else. It made me so happy to see my brother get married. I am truly blessed to have had that opportunity. Now that I am back in China, it’s like Justin and I were never apart, and I have made wonderful memories with my brother. Those memories are absolutely priceless!
I decided to document our trip back to China by taking black and white snapshots along the way.
Here is a description of our “Journey to Justin”…
We said goodbye to the in-laws at Dallas Airport. There were tears, of course, but this was the first time that I had to say goodbye to them without Justin being there. It really made no difference, and it was just as hard! I did, however, manage to hold in the tears until I was in the security line, whereas I am usually crying when we do our final hugs. Seeing Justin say goodbye to his folks always gets my bawling. This time it happened while we were waiting in the no shoes/ laptops/ liquids line, haha! I have never been anywhere as strict as the US, and the officials at DFW were clearly on some sort of power-trip because they were SHOUTING at us like we were escape-convicts. It was rather annoying, but helped to take my mind off the teary in-laws waving goodbye to us from the sidelines. We kept looking back until the very last minute – and then it was just Eli and I. We are on our way to see Daddy, and with each minute that passed and mile that we covered, we were getting closer and closer.
It would take us almost 30 hours, and three airplanes, to get from Dallas to Qingdao. With Eli just recovering from a flu/bug that he had caught on the flight from Denver to Dallas, earlier that same week, I was a little nervous about how this journey might unfold. The first flight flew by in a flash. The plane was full and we were seated in the very back row, next to a sweet old couple who had been married for 47 years. They were on their way to meet their new grandson, so having Elijah seated next to them was a perfect start to their trip. I was relieved! Local flights in the States are almost always PACKED. There is barely any legroom, or space to move, and the air hostess seem to be old and unfriendly. Thankfully Eli and I were seated next to a saint, because this turned out to the the leg of our journey where Eli was most energetic. It always happens at some point on an international trip, and I was glad that it happened when it did. We arrived in LA with a few hours to kill before our next flight, unfortunately I was absolutely shattered. At that point I assumed that I was coming down with whatever Eli had been battling all week. We found a Starbucks, bought a bagel and coffee, and then plugged in my devices at a nearby bench.While we charged up, I fed Eli and let him stretch his legs. His hyper energy started to transition into exhaustion, as it usually does, and by 11pm he was a mess. He kept dosing off and then jolting awake. The area where we were sitting was completely filled with travelers, all looking for a spot to relax while in-transit. It was there that I become “that mother”, when Elijah woke up and started screaming uncontrollably. He has done this only a couple of times in his life. It happened about an hour before my brother’s wedding ceremony, and it was happening again, right there, amidst a hall full of tired travelers. There I stood, rocking, patting, and trying to soothe my child. There’s one thing that always calms Elijah down, but with about 1,000 people staring at me – I wasn’t about to whip out my boob, especially since I wasn’t in Asia, and I might “offend someone”. I attempted to walk to the side of the hall, but wherever I stood I was stared at. Some, obviously those who have their own children, looked at me with deep sympathy in their eyes, others looked at me with utter annoyance. After a while I started to loose hope of calming Elijah down, so I used all my strength to carry our hand luggage, jackets and baby carrier with one hand, as I bounced him with the other. I kept praying, and whispering in his ear, as we walked… Miraculously, he started to calm down, but the weight of our baggage on my left arm was painful and extremely uncomfortable. I found a bathroom, nursed Eli, changed him into his PJ’s, and then made my way to our departure gate. A small bus took us to the plane. The minute that we stepped onboard, Eli looked up at me and gave me a little smile. I felt my sanity return.
We were seated in our own row, so we had plenty of room to spread out. The air-hostesses on this Air Asiana Flight were amazing. So sweet, so pretty (yup, I said it – “pretty”, not old and miserable), and so incredibly kind. They treated us like we were in First Class. Even when I didn’t call them they would come around and check on us, offer extra pillows, and stop to entertain Elijah. What a pleasure! Elijah and I settled in, and I prayed that he didn’t have another outburst on this long leg of our trip. We ate, we rested, we watched movies, and we read books. It was a completely enjoyable flight, and I’m very thankful that Eli was not comfortable or unhappy at all. He was, as he normally is, a wonderful traveler. Approximately 12 hours later we were landing in Seoul, South Korea, and the excitement was really starting to build!
We had four more hours to wait in Incheon Airport. I have no idea why I haven’t done a blog post about this airport – I’ll get on that soon – it is amazing! We got some coffee and another bagel (yes, Eli and I love bagels) and then found the Kids Zone so that Elijah could play for a couple of hours. We stopped at this airport on the way to the States, and I was amazed at how much more mobile Elijah had become since we last stopped here, two months before. He was taking a few steps at the time back then, but on this visit to the Kids Zone, he was walking around, climbing the stairs, and then going down the slide on his own. Proud mommy moment! Before we knew it, it was time to board our third flight. There are no words to describe how anxious and eager I was to get off the ground once more. I had been chatting to Justin at each airport, and he was now up and preparing to leave for the airport to meet us. This third flight was completely full, but it turned out to be the easiest flight of all. Elijah slept from take off until landing. I have no idea how I would get through any of these international travels without breastfeeding. It puts Elijah to sleep in a split second! As we touched down in Qingdao, I could barely contain myself. I had butterflies the size of bats in my my stomach. Even though I was eager to get to my hubby, I let most of the other passengers off the plane so that I could gather our belongings. After immigration, baggage collection, and the most ridiculous baggage screening process (which Chinese airports do as you LEAVE the airport), I was walking through the glass sliding doors and into the meeting hall.
My heart was pounding, my legs were wobbly, and my hands so sweaty that I had to keep wiping them on my jeans to get a good grip on the baggage cart. How could I be this nervous to see the man that I have spent almost every moment of the last five and half years with? I looked over the crowd, and there he was holding a welcome poster, and sporting the biggest grin that I had ever seen! Knowing all too well that Chinese people do not move out of the way – they simply stand firm and STARE – I veered to the left and shot out of the crowd. All eyes were on us as Justin hurried over to us. We ran to hug him and I started crying. As I moved away to look at Elijah, he was looking at Justin with that same big smile that Justin had on his face (two peas in the pod!). Even before our “movie scene” reunion, we had attracted more than enough attention for one day, so we hurried off to find a taxi.
As you can tell – It was a happy day for us.
We are back under one roof, and we couldn’t be happier.