Sunday, November 28, 2010

Posts too long

I wanted to take a moment to apologise for the length of my current posts and the posts that I am sure are to come. Not only is this my way of letting my family know about my time here in Korea, but it is also my way of keeping a journal for my family. When we go home I can print these pages off and have them for Tyson when he gets older to remind him of his time here. So I am sorry if they seem a bit long or a bit drawn out but that is what you can probably expect from now on. I hope they are interesting enough for whom ever decides to follow us, to keep doing so.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not all planes are scary, but some ARE!!!

As most of my family and friends know, I have been really stressed over the idea of the long flights that it would take for us to get to Korea. I had in my mind that we were going to crash or that Tyson would be miserable and cry the entire way out of shear boredom. Well, none of those actually took place, but it doesn't mean our travels were not without their moments of anxiety.

Our first place was due to take off at 8:24am and as I imagined the morning was filled with tears. The night before Tyson and I were to leave, I decided not to go to bed to try to insure I would be tired enough on the plane to sleep. My mom was wonderful in keeping me company playing Scrabble until the wee hours of the morning. I knew I would never actually get the word "goodbye" to her, so before we packed it up for the night; I made sure that goodbye was my last word I laid on the table. After a quick shower I had everything ready and no one was in tears so I thought maybe it would be better than I imagined. I was so wrong!! Tyson asked Papa for a nice warm milk and as they got it ready together, Tyson screamed out "Papa NOOOOO" and burst into tears. It finally hit him that we were leaving and that he was going to have to say goodbye too. It brought us all right to tears and filled me with guilt. I hated that I was hurting everyone so much but taking him away, but the opportunities that awaited him were not ones I could ignore. So after we all tried to compose ourselves we got in the car and headed to the airport. I was so thankful for that hour drive, though I feel I wasted my last moments with my parents as my body finally sarcoma to sleep.

We arrived at the airport with more than an hour to spare before our flight was due to take off. Tyson spent the time riding the escalators with my parents while I spent much of my time in the restroom trying not to give into the urge to vomiting. I mostly remember laying my head of my father's arm and finally allowing the tears to come. I told him how much I loved him and that I was sorry for putting him through this. I can also remember asking my mom to not be angry with me for wanting to move Tyson and I to the other side of the world. Of course they offered only their support and reassured me that they would be there when we got back.

All too soon the announcement to start barding our flight came over the intercom bringing more tears to everyone's already wet eyes. We walked through security with no troubles and we were finally behind the sound proof glass, away from the painful sobs of my parents. With one finally wave goodbye, we walked down the little tunnel to board the plane. I though once we got onto the plane Tyson would start to show some anxiety or excitement, but in true Tyson form he simply sat back and acted like he had flown a thousand times before. We sat at the gate for a lengthy time and I knew if we didn't get going soon, Tyson and I were going to need to really hurry to get to our connecting flight in Detroit. After a few more moments the pilot came over the intercom stating that they were experiencing some engine difficulties and they were going to shut down and restart everything. He went on to say that they did not anticipate any further complications and as soon as the engines were up and running we would be taking off. It was not until we landed safely and I called my parents to find out that the engine problem they were referring to was in fact and engine fire. My parents could actually see the flames from where they stood waiting to watch us take off. Security lined up in the hall to help us off the plane if need be. I still can't believe they consider open flames a minor problem and still allowed the plane to fly. If I had known or seen the flames, I guarantee I would have clawed my way out of that mettle tuna can.

As I suspected the delay on the runway gave us only 30 minutes to get from one end of the Detroit airport to the other. Tyson was so good about keeping up with me even though he was weighed down by stuffed animals, jackets and a suitcase. By the time we arrived at the next gate we had barely enough time to sit and catch our breath before we loaded up onto the next plane. This one was much larger than the first, a 747-400. Tyson and I sat just in front of the wing leaving enough room to clearly see out the window. When we were finally settled in we introduced ourselves to the gentleman sitting on the outside. After a quick hello he turned over and was asleep before the plane even taxied down the runway. Tyson was more excited about this plane taking off, just the size of it made for a more interesting take off. Once in the air though, he settled right in listening to the music coming out of the arm rest. In fact this is the only thing he did the entire 14 hour flight. All the things I had so carefully picked out and packed were more or less collecting dust in the overweight carryons. Between sleeping, eating the not so tasty airplane food, the flight seemed to be over in no time. Tyson and I fell asleep and woke up just in time to see them clearing away everyone's breakfast. I guess I didn't know the rule, If you fall asleep you don't eat! Oh well, it didn't smell like something I really wanted anyway. It was about 10 or so minutes after all the breakfast trays were put away that the pilot came across the intercom announcing our decent. I still had not realized how long we must have slept until I could feel the inevitable popping of my ears as the plane drew closer to the ground. It was still so strange never seeing darkness the entire time we were in the air. I guess the benefit for flying into the sun was that it seemed like one long day. If night was able to break its way into the time frame, I think the flight would have seemed much longer.

After I finally gathered all of our belongings and double checked the backpacks placed at our feet, I realized I could not find out boarding pass for the next plane. After a moment of panic I realized that they could not have gotten far and that as long as my passports were still in hand, we would get to where we needed. As the plane descended it seemed to turn to dusk in the matter of moments. It was almost completely dark by the time we actually walked off of the plane. The airport was not as big as Detroit but was still large enough to hold its own. After a run off to the side to tear into my bags to finally retrieve our tickets, we were off to go through security once more. This one was a bit more intimidating, seeing guards with M16s standing at the other side of the medical detector would have been unnerving for anyone I'm sure. We checked through with no problems and set off to find our next gate. Thankfully the man with the large gun was able to speak just enough English to head us in the right direction. I guess the worried expression on my face gave him the impression that I had no idea where I was supposed to be going. Once we found our gate we set off to find something to drink. It still amazes me that flying that long seemed to remove every ounce of fluid from our bodies. The few times they made the rounds to pass out drinks were nowhere near enough. As soon as we walked into the little store, people were trying to ask Tyson all sorts of questions. One person just walked up to him and patted his head and laughed. I guess it's not often they see an American child walking around in Tokyo. We laughed together, paid for our drinks and headed back to our gate. We had over an hour's wait so I pulled out the laptop so Tyson could watch a movie.

"Last call for boarding to Busan" was what finally woke me from my sleep. Tyson did not realize that the people walking through the gate in front of us were boarding OUR plane. I threw the laptop back into the bad, grabbed our passports and tickets and told Tyson to run to the gate to hold our place. We were the last to board but at least we were on the plane.

I knew ahead of time that Tyson and I would not be seated next to each other on this last flight, but he was right across the aisle from me. The studeress handed us cards to fill out for customs and on her way back to give me a pen, she asked if Tyson and I would like to move to the front of the plane where there was an entire Isle open. So we left our suitcases in the overhead compartments, grabbed the two backpacks and headed to the front. I was so happy that this would be our last flight and was very much looking forward to getting this next two hours over with. Unfortunately just as we hit the runway and got ready to take off, a guy sitting in first class ran to the restrooms in front of us and proceeded to start vomiting, loudly! The stewardess came over and told him that we were going to have to give up our spot on the runway to turn around because he was not in his seat. This happened 3 times!!! Three times we tried to take off and each time he got back up and got sick. Finally they told him he had to stay in his seat and use the barf bag if needed. This is the one time I have thanked God I couldn't afford first class!!

After we were finally able to take off, Tyson and I both fell right to sleep. I didn't even realize we were already there until once again the pilot warned of our upcoming decent. Eager to see as much of Korea as possible, I peered out of the window to see as much as possible. Even though it was dark, the city lights lit up the sky. I was amazed to see how many giant black peaks rose up from the ground around us. I knew that Korea had a lot of mountains but I did not expect them to be towering over the city. Even the skyscrapers that we lit up like Christmas trees could not reflect their lights to the tops. As beautiful as everything was from the window I almost begged the plane to descend faster. I was finally here and Jeff was on the ground waiting for us. The bags that seemed so heavy through the other airports now seemed almost light as a feather as I gathered them together to exit the plane. Of course we were the last to leave because our suitcases were in the overhead in the back of the plane where we started. I didn't care however, we were here and we were safe. As I walked from the plane I thanked God over and over for our safe travels. Now I just prayed my family back home would find comfort in knowing that we were hear instead of crying over our departure.

Our last task was getting through customs with those small pieces of paper they handed out on the plane. I had checked our passport numbers at least three times, but still feared that I had filled something out the wrong way. Once it was our turn to step up the counter she took the information from me and started typing away at her computer. She never once looked up or smiled, but typed. Finally she looked up and asked where the other person was that I was traveling with. I pointed down and after she stood to look over her desk, finally saw Tyson. She lit right up talking away to him. She asked about the stuffed animals he was carrying, asked how his flight was, asked where he was from, and asked why he was there. I didn't mind that all of the attention was suddenly on him and away from those papers I had filled out half asleep. Before I knew it she was waving us through, guessing that meant we could stay in the country, I set out to find our luggage. It did not take us long to finally find the carousel that revolved our luggage around and around and for me to realize there was no way I was going to be able to move 4 extra-large suitcases, all weighing 50lbs, along with our 2 carryon’s and 2 backpacks. When I looked around for a cart I actually laughed out loud when I realized their size. They were less than half of what you would even see at any grocery store, but somehow I managed to load everything onto two carts. I had the heavier of the two while Tyson pushed the other, even though he could not see over the handle. Finally out last mission was to find Jeff. With a renewed since of adrenalin keeping us awake, we walked through the final set of doors to see this man I recognized holding a sign that read, Tyson Gordon. He actually had to call out for me before I fully understood that it was him. The instant that Tyson saw him he ran screaming for his Daddy.

After our quick reunion it was time to head out to get into our limo. Now Korean limos are not exactly like the ones were used to seeing. They are more like really nice vans with neon lights inside and massaging chairs. We loaded our luggage and didn't even make it out of the airport before Jeff realized we were in the wrong car. At least this gave Tyson and I our first opportunity to listen to Jeff try to redirect someone in Korean. After a complete circle of the parking lot, we emptied our luggage from one limo and placed it into another. Once we were finally on our way to the school I called my parents to let them know that we were safe and sound. They were surprised that we had already landed, found Jeff and were heading to the school. I could hear in their voices that they were still very emotional over our departure but that they were also very happy to know that we were safe. After Tyson had his chance to talk and say I love you, we settled in for the hour or so drive up to Daegu. I do not remember any of the ride because I was sound asleep before we even got to the highway.

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go.......

Well as the title says it, my bags are packed and everything is ready for Tyson and I to fly out tomorrow morning. As I sit here I still cannot believe that this is my last night here in the US. Right now I am all alone in my house, other than my cat, Thomas, waiting for the alarm on the dryer to let me know that it is time to lock up and say goodbye. I have walked through every room of this house at least ten times tonight. Double and triple checking that Tyson and I have everything that we need for the next several months. To also make sure windows are locked, lights are unplugged and everything is just where it should be. As I walk from room to room I am doing all I can to ignore that screaming voice in my head that is trying to tell me that I am forgetting something important. I have gone over the dozen lists that I have been working on for months now; making sure each and every item is crossed off or written on a new list to give to my parents. It's strange, just a few hours ago Tyson and my parents were here with me, running around like crazy trying to get every last minuet thing accomplished and yet now I am here all alone. Already the house seems deafeningly quiet. Only a few creaks and pops from my cooling house can be heard over the tumbling of the dryer. It's almost as if the house is trying to protest our goodbye, making more noise than usual. Or maybe it's because I am actually listening to it more then I normally would.

Tomorrow Tyson and I will board our first flight at 8:24am heading to Detroit. I will not let myself imagine how many tears will be shed at the airport tomorrow. If I do I will start crying now and I know I will not be able to stop the tears once they start. We will be in the air for two and a half hours before finally landing. Hopefully in that time I can allow my sadness of saying goodbye be exchanged for the excitement of what lies ahead.

After about an hour's layover in Detroit, we will be on our next flight for fourteen hours to Tokyo. This is the flight that has me most concerned. That is such a long time for Tyson to have to stay seated and quiet. I just hope whom ever paid for the seat next to us is patient and likes kids. After we finally land in Tokyo we will have almost 2 hours to relax before we board our last flight to Busan South Korea. This flight will only take about 2 hours so I am anticipating it to go by quickly. Once we have finally landed in our destination country, we will collect our entire luggage and then head out to finally be reunited with Jeff. I know the excitement of finally seeing Daddy again is what is keeping Tyson strong through all of this. I am so grateful my fears have not become his, he is going into this with such innocence, makes me a bit jealous. After our reunion with Jeff, he will help us load into the limo for the 2 hour ride to Daegu, our new home for the next several months. Even though I am so grateful for this opportunity and I am excitedly anticipating our departure, I cannot help but be overcome with tears knowing that I only have a few hours before I have to say my final goodbyes. Leaving my parents is going to be the hardest thing that I have to overcome. I have lived away from them before, but I was always a day’s drive away. This time there will be no going home to visit. The family will not be together for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. Tyson's 5th Birthday will be spent here, away from those who waited so long for his arrival. Even though missing these things will bring sadness to more people than just me, I keep reminding myself that it is just temporary. Missing one year or a few depending on how long we stay is still so temporary in the long run. There will be so many more holidays and Birthdays spent with them, this opportunity will last only once.

So, as I sit here in the quiet I can only thank everyone who has helped me in the decision to go. It seems like so long ago now I posted a note on Facebook asking people's opinions on the opportunity given to Jeff and I. To all of those who wrote back, than you for encouraging me and reassuring me that this was the best choice. That this truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would be crazy to turn it down. I owe this journey to everyone and I promise to include you all as much as possible during our time there.

The buzz that is ringing up form down stairs tells me that it is time to go. Time to lock the doors once more, time to say goodbye to Thomas (no I am not leaving him here alone, my parents will come get him tomorrow), time to say goodbye to the house we worked so hard for and on, but goodbyes are only temporary. So until my next post, please pray for us that we have a safe journey to the other side of the world.