Caleb sat on one end of the couch and I used him as a pillow and his sweater as a blanket. Sleep came faster than I thought and I slept soundly until the alarm went off at 4am. We grabbed our things, made our way outside, passed a man praying, and used the bathroom. We found PS1 with our official passports at 4:20 – something to show at customs that we’re with the military. We checked our bags and at the entrance to security got to read a health advisory about the Arabian Peninsula. There is a new disease called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) that obviously involves shortness of breath and possibly death – so wash your hands and avoid people.
We’re on the other side of security at 4:45, we make it to our gate, split a muffin after I read for a while, and then wait to board. At 5:55, Pacific time, we take our seats across the aisle from each other. Our plane is headed to Chicago and the gate next to us to Denver with the same departure time, but as we sit on the plane the pilot tells us that San Diego asks that planes not leave until 6:30. I’m surrounded by sleeping faces, including Caleb’s, so I will take the opportunity to begin reading Humboldt’s Cosmos – a story about a man who explored Latin America.
While we were being seated a guy noticed that there is no seat 33. I’m in row 36, two from the back and there is a lot of turbulence on this ride. I watched Coronado disappear in the distance and then let the guy by the window seat close out the clouds and sunlight so that he could sleep easier. I hope for a chance by the window – especially on my first international flight in over 20 years. For now I will enjoy reading in an attempt to keep my mind off missing my dogs.
Sleep comes between pages for part of the flight, and I want to fight it, but this ensures I will be well rested for the next one and get more reading done. We land at 12:20 Central time, and have enough time to walk to the next concourse – from C to B – and glance at the Vosges Haut-Chocolat display. I call our auto insurance company to update them on our situation. We board at 1pm when they call out military, etc. and this plane is tiny – only three seats and an aisle wide. I get a window seat, watch us take off, open the bag of sweet/salty crunch mix from the USO and then read for an hour until we both fall asleep.
I read for a while longer after our 30 minute nap and everyone is jolted awake with the turbulent landing. We land at 4:40pm Eastern time, to the Norfolk Airport, grab our bags from the last carousel, and then sit outside and wait for Kris, Caleb’s brother, to arrive. I call Dan, our neighbor taking care of the car, to see how things are going. He’s at the car place and soon calls me back to get Caleb’s birthday and social. It starts to sprinkle some, Kris is stuck in traffic, and Dan calls back because the guy there needs a printable version of the back of our title – which is blank, to prove that we didn’t sell it to someone else – after we just paid it off and haven’t received the clear title yet with the lien removed.
Kris gets there at 5:40 and takes us to his large two-story house 25 minutes away, including traffic. It feels nostalgic being back here, where Caleb and I began, like walking through the halls of your elementary school – once so daunting, now so constricted and small. Kris shows us the woods with a creek in the backyard that comes with mosquitos, honeybees, and a blackberry tree. Kris drove down from Maryland where he’s spending time with the wife’s family to deliver the truck key – the truck that we will drive up with and then return tomorrow before our flight.
Kris needs to grab some extra pillows and other comforts from home and shows us around the house before we go. We see Tristan’s room upstairs. In the den is a large book collection – lots of science fiction, legal thrillers, and educational material. On the wall is a world map with different coloured pins to show the 36 places they’ve been – stationed, together, apart, and vacation. Then the boys have a look through the gun cabinet and Caleb holds a rifle that looks fit for a twelve-year-old.
Kris takes us to Town Center for dinner at Saffron Indian Bistro. We got samosas, plenty of extra-garlic naan, and some spicy veggies, paneer, and beef. I ordered a Yuengling as I remember missing it on the West Coast, but had left my ID in the car. Kris and Caleb were kind enough to talk the waiter into bringing me one. I’m old enough and they will take responsibility for me. I had suggested Mangoes or Guadalajara’s for dinner, but one has a meat-filled menu and it seems the other one closed, but I might’ve remembered it in a different place. It has been five years since I’ve been here.
While we are eating I get a message from Mike, neighbor’s son and ride home, that the car was accepted and would be delivered to Bahrain in 90 days – well that’s a lot longer than I expected, but I’m sure our transportation needs will be taken care of. We get a nearby hotel for 45 days while we house search, then Caleb will either have a duty van pick him up or carpool with a master chief that lives nearby the houses we looked at moving into.
After dinner at 8pm, Kris takes us back to the house to pick up the truck and then fills it up with gas for us – $70. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge cost $13 and we are doing the speed limit or less with no intention of rushing the alone time in the car away from the in-laws – though they can be most agreeable at times. I offer to drive the truck so Caleb can spend some more time with his brother in the Durango. I texted Kris and we got a vehicular response – parking on the shoulder – a second before his text reply. Caleb had to go around him to stop in the truck with older brakes.
We enter Maryland at 10:15pm. Fifty minutes later we are in Ocean City and the sidewalks are filled with graduates participating in Senior Week – where kids go to the beach and get drunk. This city has some events catered towards making it a safer time for them and a more enjoyable time for the locals. This is mostly a Northeast coast event. Where I come from they looked out to make sure we didn’t drink and drive on graduation night. We weren’t given permission to get hotel rooms and booze for a week of debauchery.
We arrive to room 503 S at Sea Time at 11:30pm. Vicky opens the door for us and we quickly lay down for sleep. I remember the Indian food is in the car and whisper (we are sharing a room with Kris and Vicky) that to Caleb who replies, “My butt’s going to smell like that.” I cover my mouth to laugh and am sure I woke up Terri and Bubbie (Vicky’s mom and grandma), but not Tristan who was sleeping soundly in his port-o-bed.