Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hell On Earth (Er, Hell In The Air)

So, I’ve kind of been putting off writing this blog, both because I’m still drunk feeling from so much sleep deprivation, but also because I’d really rather not even think about my trip and maybe the memory of it will fade and it will never really have happened. Yeah, it was pretty much that bad. I was really hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but it was even worse than I anticipated.

We started off the day easily enough, getting up at 6:30 and having a simple breakfast before heading off to the airport. It was really hard for me to leave Stu. As excited as I was to be going home, I was equally as upset (or more so) that I was leaving my husband and my best friend on the other side of the world. Because we’ve been living overseas for so long, with few friends and no family, Stu and I really learned how to become a well-oiled working unit. We are best friends as well as partners and I can’t remember the last decision I made that I didn’t talk about with Stu first. So just the thought of not having him by my side was pretty emotional for me.

We got checked in and Stu left us as far as he could go, which was the entrance to immigration. I was crying before I even got to the counter and the Emirati guy looked me over then looked at Stu and he said, “That is his father?” And I said yes and he told me, “It is even harder for him, you know, to watch you leave, he just has to hold it inside because this is what a man must do.” Which of course, didn’t help, and I sobbed my way through the terminal (quietly, lest I draw even more attention to the lone white girl) and then proceeded to walk laps around terminal 1 (for those who have been Abu Dhabi airport, there is a huge circle which each of the gates connect to). After 2 hours and 46 laps, it was time to board.

Kaden flat out refused to wear his seatbelt and screamed at a pitch dogs probably can’t even hear, as I held him down and tried to keep him from arching his back and flopping himself out of the seat. Needless to say, it was not a happy take-off for me or any of our fellow passengers. My child.

He got a kick out of the entertainment system again for about an hour and then was crabby because it was nearing nap time. I’m going to pause right here and say to those of you who suggested Benadryl, you suck. I gave him some and an hour later, not only was he NOT sleeping, he was like a monkey on crack, bouncing around in his seat and freaking out. This went on for the remainder of the plane ride. We went for about 50 “walks” (our flight was 16 hours) to the bathroom and to say hello to his favorite flight attendant (a fugly looking French gal who appeared to be on her 5th 16-hour flight in a row, poor girl). I will spare you the gory details, but let’s just say Kaden was NOT on his best behavior as he promised to be and neither he nor Mommy got any sleep at all until he finally fell asleep AFTER the captain came on to tell us we would soon be landing. He slept for an hour total. Ugh.

Chicago. Let me preempt this by saying what a great airport Chicago O’Hare is. Not only were the people refreshingly polite and helpful (one of the ground staff helped me get all my carry-on luggage situated on me and then handed Kaden to me because my gate-checked stroller had to go through the baggage claim (fuckers). So I hauled my now-drowsy lead baby to customs, which went surprisingly fast. Unlike Raleigh where they only had two kiosks open to deal with a flight of several hundred people, Chicago was well-staffed and we got through pretty quickly. I was directed to a line that was diplomats or active military and then a nice Marine allowed me to go ahead of him because I was a pack-mule. The guy at customs welcomed me “home” (thank you!!! :) ) and then asked about what myself and husband did in Abu Dhabi. It took literally 15 seconds (while I watched a group of 10 Pakistanis get lead into a separate screening room, then later saw them leave said room and enter their new terminal some 3 hours later) and then I was off to claim my baggage.

I’m not going to lie, this part sucked. They had told me there would be porters who work for tips but I couldn’t a-one, so I kept dragging Kaden and our over-packed carry-ons around hauling bags out of the carousel and onto a cart. I pushed both the cart (loaded down with 200 pounds worth of crap) and the stroller to where I needed to get my boarding pass for my next flight. Etihad had checked my bags on to Boise, so I just had to drop them off there, which was nice.

Then started to process called keeping-a-sleep-deprived-monkey-on-crack-happy-for-the-next-4-hours. I sat down a grand total of maybe a half hour in 4 hours waiting for our next flight because every time I stopped walking the stroller around Kaden would start to cry or whine and I was just so exhausted I was far happier to walk my feet raw than to deal with a stressed-out crying 2-year-old.

We boarded the next plane and got all seated and ready to go on the flight to Boise. Kaden fell asleep as soon as his seatbelt was on and everything appeared to be looking up. Wrong. Our plane broke. The captain came on and said there was a reading in the cockpit that said there was hot air leaking into places it shouldn’t be and that the mechanics were going to run tests to see if the problem was a computer problem or if the problem actually existed. After about 45 minutes of aiting on the plane he came back on to tell us that the computer was right, there was hot air leaking into the wing and it was a fire hazard and that he didn’t want to add more excitement to our lives, so this plane was unflyable and had to be towed to the airplane-fixing shop. We got off the plane again and waited around for them to see if they could get us another plane. An hour later the pilot was standing a few feet in front of me (Kaden had just earned his wings and was hamming it up to the pilot) when he got a text that made him say “shit” (obvious follow-up question from me: “What?”) . “Well, we’ve got another plane, but it doesn’t land here until 11:45, which means we wouldn’t land in Boise until well after 2 AM.” (“Shit”, indeed.)

A bit later it was confimed that we could have that plane, but that it was hurrying up and would land at 10:45 instead. It landed at 11:15 and we were all boarded and ready to take off by 11:30 (we’d already had practice so we were pretty good at it the second time around). It’s funny the camaraderie that takes place under stress. You feel like you get to know people when you go through crises with them (however minor). My seat buddy was an elder Mormon man (naturally) from Boise who was an eager listener and questioner when it came to the Middle East. We talked forever and he even offered to have his wife drop us off at home when she came to get him (as we found out they live a mere couple of blocks from Marcia and Deven). A very nice man, which came in handy when my son, now definitely NOT sleeping, entered the second plane and again refused to buckle up, flinging his body around and screaming at the top of his lungs. Luckily, though, after 8 hours in the airport, following such a long flight, his resolve was not as strong as mine and he gave up and collapsed asleep against my lap for about an hour. He woke up and was in a pretty good for the rest of the 4 hour flight and even got to watch the lights of Boise on our approach.

I tried to cut out the meat, so it really sounds like a decent and short enough trip, but I’m still trying to recover. Heh. We got to the airport and Marcia and Deven were waiting for us and even Joslyn got her pregnant body up and to the airport at 2 in the morning to welcome us home. :) It was so nice to see happy, familiar faces after such a long time of no sleep. We got our bags and barely all fit in the car (the stroller was practically on Marcia’s lap) and got home, where it was DEAD SILENT outside, which was an eerie thing after so long of constant noise. Kaden got to meet his new bedroom which Marcia had completely done in Cars stuff! The bedspread, curtains, even the walls are all Cars themed. It is soooo cool and Kaden just loved it.

He looked slightly terrified when I put him to bed in his new scary room, then he asked for his Daddy, which nearly made me collapse on the floor and cry that I wanted his Daddy too, but I held it together long enough to put him to bed. After calling Stu and leaving like 3 voicemails (the Vonage was down, of course, so I couldn’t actually hear him) I finally made it to bed by about 4:45 AM.

Unfortunately I had an interview scheduled for 10 AM the next day (today) so I only got about 3 hours of sleep when Kaden woke up crying at about 8 AM. He was in a strange place and completely exhausted, poor kid. But he got some breakfast and chatted with Aunt Marcia while I got ready (“ready” used lightly, I threw my hair in a bun, put on wrinkly clothes and smeared a ton of concealer under my puffy, bloodshot eyes before heading downstairs for my own cereal.

Marcia offered her car but I got her to drive me to my interview (hey, I haven’t really driven in a year and a half and I didn’t know where I was going, it felt intimidating) with Kaden in tow. They occupied themselves while I interviewed by heading to Winco for a few supplies and then Starbucks where Kaden got his own water with a straw.

My interview went very well. They seemed pretty impressed with me (especially the part about me being there some 8 hours after my plane landed and almost no sleep) and liked my answers to their questions. But of course you only ever know your own take on things, so we will just have to wait and see how it went.

Kaden and I went back down for nap at about 1 (2 for me because I was IMing with Stu, hehe) and became dead to the world. I had asked Deven to not let me sleep past 4 so I can try to get our schedules back on track but Marcia came in at 5:30 and said Deven had tried to wake me up but I wouldn’t hear of it. I had even missed two calls and 3 texts with my volume on my phone on full and I still slept like a rock.

Sarah and Ella came over in the evening to say hello and bring Kaden a present, but I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck by then. I hope tonight’s sleep goes well and tomorrow we’re feeling better. Kaden is already in bed and I am heading there too now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update Sydney! I am glad you two made it! Sorry the trip over wasn't too good! I am sorry about when Kaden asked for his Daddy at bedtime, that almost made me cry because I can't even imagine that feeling. Glad the interview went good, I am sure it did with them too :) Get some rest, no need to hurry up and update us right now :)