No place like home

It’s six in the morning and the house is silent. Almost silent, I can head my dad sniffling in the other room. Silent and very dark, where are all the streetlights?  I’ve been up for an hour and after many attempts to crack the password on my mother’s computer, have given up the battle and pulled out a sheet of paper. Well I am home. Home sweet home, and let me tell you this: it feels really, really good. That’s the short version. Here is the long. . .

Zsolt and I woke up yesterday morning around 6.30 am . . . the past two days are the earliest I’ve risen over the last six months. Early bird gets the worm, but the late bird snuggles in bed. Who doesn’t like to snuggle? (Particularly when the heat has been turned off and beyond the sheets is a freezer-like climate.)

So we get up with the intention of leaving for 7 am, by  7.36 we are in the car and rolling. It was a typical drive to the airport with lots of traffic and iron bladders.

Wohoo! Dad is awake and offering the password – I’m switching to the computer now and creative freedom! Typing is glorious. And wow, Mom has a whole lot of icons on her desktop, and a really stunning mountain range picture.

Where was I? Driving. Airport. Check in. Right.

Checking in was not a problem. There was a momentary debate over whether I was cleared for departure, but no trouble ultimately because, of course, clearance had been organized the day before (PS – springing last minute arrangements on people who are sick/tired/whatever is really poor customer service and most certainly a practise that needs to be changed).

I checked three bags and arranged for a buggy to pick me up from the lounge. Yes, I walked my little butt through security despite worries that I’d be too tired. It was fine – no looks please, because I felt in control (and it was not a long walk at all).

Zsolt carried my bag up to the security point and we said goodbye. That involved a lot of hugs and a lot of ‘I love you’, which is as it should be.

Points to Zsolt for getting us to the airport really smoothly. He was the perfect early morning driver 🙂

So there goes my husband for a month. He had he own little journey to conquer after dropping me off. The poor guy had to drive to Gatwick, drop off our car in one of the nearby villages (we rented a parking space for 40 pounds; that’s less than a pound a day and significantly beats Gatwick parking fees) and afterward catch a train over the Gatwick. By the time he caught his flight to Hungary, I was at home in front of my Canadian fireplace. Talk about a lonnng day.

Meanwhile, back at Heathrow, I was enjoying the first class lounge. Hello, I had no idea stress-free travel existed.  For a whole load of money (or a whole load of points, as in my case) you get to skip much of the security drama, are given a quiet area with breathing space and comfortable chairs, and there’s a buffet with breakfast cereals, drinks and assorted snacks. Man!

Totally awesome. Totally worth it. Zsolt’ll be upset because my pallet has now sampled a finer type of flying, and you know I’ll be craving it again! *a girl can dream : )

When due to board I took an electric buggy to the gate. That was odd – I sat at the back beside an elderly gentleman and looked out at the people we passed (like sitting in the trunk of a car, which I did once at a debating tournament and was given a taxi ride through Toronto with my legs sticking out the back window).  People would watch us passing, and I would watch them shirk into the long corridor. It felt a little like a parade, but without the waving.

Which bring us to the flight, another example of stress-free flying. I once heard that animals are given more space during transport than people on airplanes. While this may/may not be true, it certainly makes a difference to have a little room. The flight was still tiring (must be related to pressure change, altitude, radiation etc), but the experience was pleasant. Key perk was the full flat bed – an excellent addition to the miracle of flight.

So after all that trouble Air Canada finally treated me well, though I did pay them to, but I suppose that’s the case for many services.

At the border I think I was meant to wait for a wheelchair. Bugger that. I hopped off the plane (with a sideways glance at the wheelchair attendant) and floated over to security. Words were said at customs, at one point I blurted out, “My husband’s Hungarian!’ when asked why I was alone. Thinking back, that doesn’t quite answer the question, but communication becomes difficult when exhausted. There was also confusion over whether I was bringing in a jug with or without water. “A water jug” I said. “A jug with water?” she asked.  Maybe she had a point, no rule says that water jugs need water – they could hold juice or wine or sangria.

Anyhow, customs was fine.  And once through my luggage appeared on the carousel almost immediately. First class service.

This next bit is the best – my favourite moment when arriving home. The parting of glass doors, with Mom and Dad on the other side.  What a frigging good and rewarding moment. We hugged and were teary eyed and couldn’t say too much. If you know the Ottawa airport international arrivals area, then you know it’s a bit of a stage. People come through the door, and everyone watches as family reunites. There’s always an audience and yesterday they had a little Brunelle-Family reunion show.

Oh! And Mom gifted me with a Canada hat and scarf, which matched perfectly the Canada mittens I was given (thanks Sandie!) to keep warm.  Plus, there was a cup of Tim Hortons tea. Oh Canada!

Going home – being home – was emotional. On top of the long day, it’s been a long six months and finally reaching my goal was somewhat beyond words: aching, smiling, crying, holding, talking, laughing, loving. It felt almost too much.

Downstairs in my bedroom there is a waterfall of paper cranes. Beautiful. A thousand paper cranes with which to make a wish. And a wish has been made. Thanks to Christina and her folding team for their thoughtfulness, and to my family for hanging them up. They’re quite something to see. I may even need to post a photo once the camera is unpacked.

And so that brings me to now – this dark morning.

The ground outside is white with snow. Dad is now in the kitchen eating breakfast, and I think I’ll go over to join him.

Despite the ups and downs, I’m so glad to have kept this goal. It feels wonderful to be home.

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8 thoughts on “No place like home

  1. I’m so glad to hear everything went well! Sounds like you had a great experience and man I need to get a flight with a full flat bed! Unfortunately I’ll be back in cattle class in a day’s time but at least I’ll be heading home. That moment when you come out at the airport and see your parents is just the best isn’t it? I’ve gotten alot softer the longer I’m away from home and now I almost always cry at the airport-just reading about your reunion gave me that tickle in the throat. I’m so glad you’re home and so glad everything has worked out for you to be with your family!
    Have an AMAZING Christmas with the family!!! Enjoy the snow because I don’t think I’ll be getting much over in Prince Rupert. MERRY CHRISTMAS! xo

  2. Welcome home Catherine. I’m sooo glad to hear that you had a good trip. I’ve never travelled 1st class but you sure are giving me the urge to try it next time I fly 😀

    I hope it warms up for you, the last few days have been fridgid.

    Take very good care of yourself and enjoy your time with your precious family.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Lots of peace, health and happiness 🙂

    France

  3. So glad you’re here safe & sound in the family nest.
    Prayers were said, fingers crossed. There is something words can’t express about that first glimpse of family after clearing customs..especially followed by tuque & tea!!

    -Sandie

  4. Welcome home Catherine! You get a gold star for determination and perseverance and it has paid off beautifully. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family!!

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