Monday, July 18, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The trip is over.  And I feel that it is time to reflect on all that went well - right.

We spent time with my husband's 96 year-old grandmother who is still very feisty.  There were many many meals filled with great food and even greater family.  Gorgeous days at the sea filled with sunshine and salt water.  Water the color of jewels that is just the right temperature when you have been fried by the Mediterranean sun.  There were movies, sewing lessons, shopping, and cooking as well as tickle time with Gia Gia. And of course eating, eating, eating, and more eating.  Oh how I miss the eating;-)))) You should only eat croissants in France and Baklava in Greece...something like that.  There were tons of cousins, futball games, tag, even some goats and a pig! The borrowed DVD player that even worked in the car and the 15 new movies from Theo Marinos. SCORE!  Motorcycle rides for the all the boys, and a great new book for mom.

There was the medic in London (Thanks again Mick!) that took great care in making sure my eight year-old could get on the next plane without popping two eardrums.  As well as the young woman who stayed with us until daddy got back with the tickets (3 hours later) and we were safely on our way.  There was the flight attendant who could see that my eight year-old was anxious and made sure he had snacks, drinks, and even found some gum.  To all of the passport agents who asked the children their name, where they were from, and if they were enjoying their holiday.  The pilots we meet in the hotels that answered numerous questions from two nervous children (and one nervous parent).

The countless family, friends, neighbors, shop keepers, and strangers that gave the children money or presents or both! Or got us out of a pickle because they could speak English thereby supplementing my very limited Greek.  It kept us from once boarding a bus bound for Turkey and also from buying Gia Gia a vegetable when what she asked for was soap.  At least I was hoping I was asking for something that wasn't either illegal or immoral.
There were many things that went well - wrong.
The flight attendant who ignored my pleas to get us off the plane quickly to get medical attention when my son was screaming and crying and holding his ears.  That was the very first flight - so you could say that was all that needed to go wrong because for mom it seemed it would be all downhill from there.  The missed flight, the five hour layover, not being able to notify family on the receiving end who was waiting for us at the airport.  Getting in at 11:00 p.m. at night after traveling 48 hours. 

The customs and passport agents in the US who were just down right rude.  The operator at Holiday Inn's 800 line that would not connect nor call the hotel in Chicago to notify them we were waiting at the International terminal for the shuttle after flying 9 hours.  After eating GiaGia's cooking for 30 days - airport pickings and hotel food. Yuck!

The EU.  Can I claim that one? Can't say I know a whole lot about the economic crisis in Greece.  But the kids got to see a protest, why is that in the things that went wrong list? Well, having seen Greece prior to the Euro, and prior to the Olympics, all I know is that something went horribly wrong.

The things that were just - well ugly.

I think my biggest problem on the trip was panic attacks.  Not that I wasn't expecting them (had my first at age 5), I don't like to fly and get a little nervous when I am left alone in a foreign country where I don't speak the language.  I was not however, ready for my son's panic attack.  My biggest fear has always been that I will be that crazy lunatic that runs through the plane screaming right after take off clawing at the door trying to get out only to get tackled by several flight attendants all wielding needles full of horse tranquilizers.  It was my eight year-old however after the ear pain disaster on the first flight that developed the biggest fear of flying.  We had a short flight from Cyprus to Greece and right after take off he started sobbing yelling at me to get him off the plane.  It was my worst nightmare come true only he was living it.  It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces some of which I am certain are still on that plane.

We got through it.  My husband's mother cried and cried, and then told everyone how amazing I was, so did my husband.  I didn't want to be amazing.  I wanted to cry with him.  I wanted to get the hell off that plane too.  I never did cry.  I never did break down in all those days of struggling to get through knowing what lie ahead.  Not until we got back, not until everyone was in bed, not until I was quite sure I was alone did I cry.  Not because I had an awful trip, or because he had an awful trip - we didn't.  I cried because I realized I merely survived.  We made it home.  Now what?  I can not fathom getting back on a plane and doing again, and yet we will.  Will I have learned my lesson for next time? Be ready for the worst? Enjoy the ride? Go with the flow?  I'm not quite sure yet what the universe is trying to teach me, but I am ready to learn.