Saturday, July 2, 2011

30 Hour Journey to Bring Samara HOME

Last weekend Matt, Samara and I started a 30 hour journey that would take us to Tokyo, LA and finally Detroit. I had stressed about this journey for about eight months. Matt and I had a major disagreement, as I wanted the shortest route possible - not really caring that it might mean that we would spend an additional 3K (ok, I care, but still). There's a flight that goes to Tokyo and then directly to Detroit, and it takes 21 hours. I pleaded my case when Sam was about three months old and we were buying the tickets. "She'll be crawling!" "She'll be too big to carry around!" Plus, flying to LA meant that we had to get a separate ticket from LA to Detroit, which meant that if we were late arriving to LA and we missed our connection, we would have to buy a completely separate ticket (if the Delta people are meanies - which they usually are). In the end, I lost, and I worried for months.

7am Sunday morning, we woke up Sam and took a taxi to the airport. The first flight was no problem - Samara slept for an hour, but mostly she just hung out, played and chilled. In Tokyo we had a major bottle cleaning operation - where Matt went into the men's bathroom and washed everything so it would all be available for the next legs. While he did that, Sam and I waited outside and about 15 women ooh'd and aah'd over Samara. At one point these two women who spoke only Chinese came back, picked up Sam (without even a glance in my direction) and started taking photos. They took photos with her and of her alone. I have a photo of this that I will post later. She didn't seem to mind.

The second leg was the longest and the most miserable, though even this leg wasn't all that bad. Sam slept for about two hours in the bassinet, though it was a bit too small for her, so she couldn't quite get her elbow high enough to suck her thumb comfortably. She also needs to whine a bit before she falls asleep (or at least sing really loudly), but when everyone around you on the plane is sleeping, you're a crap parent if you let your kid make that noise. I knew that if we picked her up, that would just mean that she would stay awake longer and have to make noise the next time she fell asleep...but we did get some dirty looks, so in the end we tried to keep her as quiet as possible, forgoing some precious sleep. She watched some Monsters, Inc. and some other movie about Gnomes. She got SO excited when she saw the characters moving. She turned to look at me as if to say, "MOM!! Do you SEE THIS!? It's AMAZING!!!" The weirdest thing about this flight is that we arrived before we even left on Sunday (with a shorter flight than time difference).

In LA we were the last in line for immigration because we had to wait for our stroller at the gate (in many places in Asia if you have a baby you get to go to a special line and not wait forever...), so that took a bloody long time. The immigration official asked Matt was he did, and he said he was an economist. "Economist means finance which means money. Do you make a lot of money?" We wanted to ask if that was part of her job to ask or just out of personal curiosity. We just smiled awkwardly. In LA Sam played and we ate pizza.

The last leg, from LA to Detroit, was a piece of cake. Samara was so wiped that she fell asleep in the ergo, which meant I fell asleep as well, and though we were scrunched into a domestic Delta airplane with no bassinet and no friendly Singapore Airlines flight attendants, we were golden. We slept for about two hours and hung out and played for the other two.

All that stressing, and really, she was a champ.

In the meantime it has been so incredible to be home. Sam has met her relatives - like our closest relatives that we grew up with who are such a huge part of our lives. It's crazy to us that she hadn't met them yet. She met my grandparents, Matt's grandma, lots of cousins and aunts and uncles.

Yesterday she got to meet some of my closest friends and their kids as we spent the day together in Ann Arbor. We gathered from Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and Singapore.

Shana and I met in 1988 at Camp Ramah. We became really close in high school, lived together for all four years at Michigan (including a year abroad) and have remained close since. She lives in Toronto with her husband Daniel and sons Joseph who's 3 and Sam who's 7 months. I have been so lucky to meet Joseph three times before, and this was our first time introducing Sam to Sam (they loved each other).

At orientation for U of M, I met Seth and Mike, super awesome twins from Cleveland. We spent our time in Ann Arbor hanging out together all the time, and by the end we were watching Office Space together at least a few times a week. Since college we have all visited each other in different locations at least once a year (though it has been only once a year since we moved to Singapore!).

In college, Seth had a girlfriend from high school, and after college, they got married. Seth and Emily live in Cleveland and have Ariel who's 3 and Eli who's seven months (each one week apart from Shana's kids above!).

Mike moved to Chicago, and so did my good friend Joanna from Otzma. I sent them an email saying that they were both so important to me and cool. They got married six years ago and live in Columbus and have a two year old, Charlie.

Jill and I met in high school, though we were in the same group of friends but didn't really get close until college. Since college Jill has been one of my closest friends, also going to Social Work School at U of M together. Jill and Ben live in Chicago with Joseph who is a week older than Samara.

For us all to be together, have our kids interact, and eat Zingermans, Dominicks and play on the diag is seriously a dream. It was such a happy and wonderful day.