It’s the day before we go. I’m feeling almost bereft. It’s the smell that’s getting me now. The smelling sense is definitely my strongest – it takes me straight back to a moment in the most acute way. It rained last night and the morning now has that fresh grassy smell. Slightly autumnal.
The boys have packed all their back packs. I tried to pick up their bags and literally couldn’t. I opened the packs to find an army of soldiers, stuffed animals (not just for the little one, which I loved), a steel money counter, balls, rope, loads more toys, and best of all an amplifier. If they could have put the tv in there, they would have. The truth is I’m lucky it’s so straight forward for them right now. Soon enough, they either won’t want to go, won’t want to leave a girl behind, or can’t go because of school. So for now, if it’s about which bear to take or lugging a metal safety box with us, I’ll deal.
They have been traveling on that Virgin flight since they were born and they know the drill better than taking the bus outside our door. The airport scene is always the same: I try unsuccessfully to get us bulk-head seats, we buy baguette sandwiches for the plane, we lose youngest son in WH Smith’s and find him trying to stuff candy down his pockets, I look longingly at various shops and buy nothing and then we board. Note: husband has managed to NOT travel with us MOST of the time. Hmm.
The plane journey is now easier as they all can zone out on movies without too much help from me. Two out of the four boys invariably will get diarrhea and therefore I do spend quite a lot of time in the loo. I sing my superstitious song, but only on take off, which is embarrassing to the boys as it must be sung out loud, but it’s part of my safety ritual since I was about 5.
The arrival is the best bit, always. After customs, etc, we walk up this ramp and through these big doors and my entire family is there waiting. That means 8 cousins, six aunts and uncles, and my mom. It’s pretty hysterical and very full of love. Sometimes there’s even signs. We are that family. We all go home in various cars and I collapse as my mom starts serving matza balls from Jerry’s deli – along with enough cold cuts, bagels and salads to feed us for a week. Nothing like a Jewish mama to sort out a long haul flight.
It all seems exciting, the right thing to be doing. I just hope that as I walk down my lane tomorrow I’m not kidding myself about how distant I’m going to feel from here, how long it’s going to be. We’ll arrive and the first week is surreal, the second week I feel like a stranger, and by the third week it’s like I never left. Whether it’s LA or London, that’s always the way. This time, though, I’m struggling with wanting to hold onto everything around me here as I feel much more European than I ever thought I would.