Since his flight had been cancelled the day before, we went ahead and rescheduled his flight to Dallas to an earlier one to give us a bit of a buffer in case he had the same problem again. This meant that we had to leave a bit earlier in the day, and even though I would have loved to spend every minute possible with him, I also needed to get the whole thing over with at this point. It was too hard. I woke him up with breakfast in bed at a reasonable hour and he had plenty of time to shower, repack a couple things, and get to the airport in plenty of time. We got him checked in and sat and waited outside of security in case anybody came to say goodbye for what seemed like an eternity in some ways and like a blink of an eye in others….kind of like this past year. We finally decided it was time to go to the gate and they had already started boarding. Those last few moments seemed hurried and rushed. I needed the time to say goodbye properly, I couldn’t give him enough hugs, enough advice, enough threats to keep in touch with us and let us know when he got to Madrid. I started crying despite trying to keep the tears in. This was to be expected of course, but I really did try. EB started to tear up when he saw me cry. I got in one last hug and we had to let him go. It was soooo hard. We stood and watched his plane take off before heading to the car.
It was a short flight and soon after we got home from the airport, he sent me a text saying he arrived in Dallas and was gathering his things. Because we had changed his flight to an earlier time, he now had about 4 hours to wait until his flight to Spain. He text me asking about the gate because he didn’t see it on the screen. I replied with the information. He told me he was bored, I asked him if he was ready to come back home to Louisiana. He said he’d like to stay a little bit more….we decided we would both be in big trouble if he didn’t get on his flight.
The time passed and as it was getting time to board, they called his name – someone wanted moved to sit with their family so they were giving him a free upgrade to business class! I would never get that lucky; kind of made up for the fact that his flight was cancelled the day before. He text me a couple more times from the plane. His seat was nice and perhaps he could sleep well on the flight. I sent him one last text telling him goodbye, have a safe flight, we miss you, and there better be a picture of you at the airport in Madrid on my phone when I wake up in the morning! At 3am, my phone chimed – it was him sending me a message that he arrived in Madrid….the tears started again….I couldn’t go back to sleep.
Yes, I had to label this part 1.
I didn’t get to bed until late last night partly because I was finishing up some things for EB and partly because I was sort of waiting up for him to get home so I could see him and hug him again. I woke up less than 4 hours later unable to fall back to sleep. I knew it was because he was leaving. He seemed to have the same problem and surprised me when he came out of his room several hours earlier than his normal waking time. We hung out some, he had a couple friends come over, and eventually it was time to leave for the airport. I was holding up pretty well, just an occasional tear down my cheek. We get to the airport, drag in his 2 giant suitcases to check and his 2 carry-ons crammed as full as we could get them, and get in line to check in. All goes well with each bag coming in at 49 pounds, just 1 pound shy of the limit. He paid the $60 for the second bag, and we waited for gate passes so we could go with him to the gate. Before they could return with the gate passes, my phone rang and it was the airline. His flight to Dallas was cancelled and there was no way they could get him there to make his next flight. He could get on a later flight and spend the night in Dallas or stay here for another day. He opted for staying here. I was flooded with mixed feelings. I loved the idea of spending one more day with him, but mentally, I had been preparing myself to put him on the plane. I didn’t want to have to go through that again tomorrow. But another day with him….before we could even get back to the car, it became clear that I wasn’t going to have another day with him. He was making plans with a friend who came to the airport to see him off. We drove home from the airport without him, as though he had left, and we would have to do it again. He came home briefly with his friend, then went off to a movie and party. When I asked when he would be home, he asked me to wait up for him. I’m so tired from this long, exhausting day, but I will do my best, just to be able to spend a few more minutes with him…….
Yes, that was a horror flick. It’s also going to be a very sad day for me. The past month has passed entirely too quickly. High school graduation for Doodles that we went to even though she wasn’t there, the last day of teaching preschool for me, the last day of school for the boys, getting school paperwork together, notarized, and Apostille of the Hague on it for EB, a birthday/going away party, and now, the day after tomorrow, we must bid farewell to our Spanish son.
I knew the day would come. At times I looked forward to things getting back to normal and at times I dreaded it as much I dreaded Doodles leaving last August. I knew it would be hard, especially for an emotional cryer like me. And it is hard. Each day for the past couple weeks, he’s gotten up and told me how many days until he leaves. I would tell him to shut up. I’ve been well aware of the number of days with out his reminder. I guess it really hit me the other day when he was telling me what he planned on doing next week. Next week?! He wouldn’t be here! How could he have plans for things that didn’t include his life in America? Next week…in Spain…with his friends…my mind couldn’t handle it and my heart couldn’t take it. But perhaps the worst was when his parents e-mailed me the other day thanking me for all that we’ve done for their son and how grateful they were that he had a family where he felt truly at home. I cried. I will be doing more of that over the next few days. He’s so sweet and keeps reminding me that he’s going to come back to visit. I have every intention of going to Spain to visit him too….someday….hopefully in the not too distant future.
April was a rough month starting with financial aid packages arriving the first week to Doodles having to make her college choice by the end of the month. She still really wanted to go to Georgia Tech. From the beginning, we knew it was more than we could afford so she was hoping to get enough financial aid to make it doable. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. All of her back-up choices suddenly didn’t seem as desirable. Iowa State was too cold (despite the incredible financial aid they were offering), she read classes were easy at Univ. of South Carolina (even though she was accepted into their #1 Honors College), Auburn she no longer liked for unknown reasons (just as well as their financial aid was next to nothing), and LSU, well it was LSU and she was not going there. That left one choice, a school that she didn’t want to apply to and a school she told me she was not going to go to when I told her I submitted the application for her. She was scared of NOLA and did not want to go to any school in Louisiana. Then she asked us to go visit for her. She started researching it, and decided that perhaps it was the best school for her out of the choices she had. She told me several times last month that she had decided where she was going, but yet she wouldn’t log onto their website and click the “yes” button to commit. The May 1 deadline was quickly approaching so I resorted to telling her that I was going to go ahead and commit to Iowa State for her. That day, she finally committed to going to……Tulane University! They have a lot to offer despite being a smaller school than what she thought she wanted and I think she will really enjoy going to college in NOLA. I like that it’s close enough to drive to but far enough that nobody will be making lots of trips back and forth. Within a couple of days, she had also found a roommate for herself – a young lady from Puerto Rico so she can keep working on her Spanish.
I’m so glad that this part of the process is over, but I’m not looking forward to starting those payments next month.
Well today was the last college decision Doodles was waiting for – it was also her first and only rejection. Despite it being a great college, she wasn’t really interested in it. The rejection still stung. Telling her long distance made it worse too.
So now we wait for the financial aid packages from the 6 colleges she was accepted to: Iowa State, Auburn, Univ. of South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Tulane, and LSU. She has always favored Georgia Tech since our college visits last year, but of course they are the only school out of the bunch that didn’t give her a scholarship and also the second most expensive tuition.
The other problem she seems to be having is deciding on what she wants to major in. She used to want math, then briefly considered international business (hence the application to SC), and then today, out of the blue, she said she wants to major in marine biology because that is where her love is. She has never ever mentioned marine anything before so it came as a big surprise!?!? I guess while I am waiting for the financial aid, she can be figuring out what she wants to do with her life.
It seems like everyday I’m counting down something….the days until the remaining college acceptances come out….the days until Buster gets his braces off….the days until all financial aid packages should be done….the days until Doodles has to decide what college she is going to….the days until my preschool teaching job is over….the days until Buster and EB get out of school….the days until EB goes home….and most importantly the days until Doodles comes home – which happens to be 106.
Some days I am happy to realize how soon things will be happening, and other days I just want to stop time. Even this week, being spring break, I find myself wishing it away one minute and wishing it would last a few days/weeks longer the next. I have a list of things I want to get done, but don’t feel like doing any of it. I need to exercise, clean the house, do state income taxes, do lesson plans, pick out pictures and work on EB’s scrapbook, and especially sleep. I’ve been pretty successful on that last thing, but not so much on the others. This week will be over before I know it, and even though it doesn’t seem like it, so will the next 106 days.
So last month, EB told me that his dad said he needs to know a date to book his ticket back to Spain. I didn’t want to think about it. He said we had to. I asked him when his visa expired. He said he wasn’t staying that long. I reluctantly pulled up the calendar on my computer, we looked at when school ended, figured out how many days it would take to get his transcript from the school, get it notarized, and get the Apostille of the Hague on it for him to take to his school in Spain. We decided he couldn’t really leave any sooner than 2 weeks after school gets out. That was too soon for me. In less than 3 months, we will be packing up his things, taking him to the airport, and saying hasta luego without knowing just when luego will be. He shared in my sadness and we talked about how he is always welcome to come back because he is truly a member of our family and he can bring his parents, brothers, friends, anybody with him, anytime. I also reminded him that we want to come visit him in Spain too. And then I got loco on him and asked if he was going to invite us to his wedding – you know, something that teenage boys are thinking about….he was kind and said, “Of course, will you come to it?” He may feel fortunate to have us for a host family, but I feel sorry for him sometimes. Hahaha
A few days later, I was demanding a date from Doodles to come home, not because I needed it, but because the travel agency required it or we would have to pay $250 to change the original date on her ticket. It was nearly impossible to get some dates from her. She didn’t want to ask her host parents because she knew they would give her earlier dates than what she was wanting. She eventually gave me 3 dates and I e-mailed them off to the travel agent. The travel agent then told me that none of those dates were available at her fare, but she could get her booked on one of the dates for an additional $48. We paid the travel agent $800 more than what we could have purchased a ticket for because it was supposed to be an open ended ticket. Well, it wasn’t; it was a student fare and there are a limited number of flights/seats available with that fare so pretty much any date was going to cost us more. I don’t know why the ticket cost so much but we won’t be recommending that travel agent that does so much work with Rotary Youth Exchange to anyone in our district in the future. They finally found a date that didn’t cost extra but when I checked the itinerary, I saw that Doodles would have 1.5 hours to get off her international flight, collect her checked luggage, go through customs and immigration, recheck her luggage, and make it to the terminal with the little planes at the Houston airport for her flight home. Should she miss that connecting flight, she would be stuck in Houston alone for the night. Great. We told the travel agent that it wasn’t enough time, she told us that the airline said it is. Hahaha. We found flights that would take her through Dallas instead giving her 2 hours to get through customs so we paid extra for that. She will still have to fly to Houston before coming home, but if she misses her connecting flight in Dallas, we at least have friends there who could take her home for the night.
It will be just over a month from when EB leaves to when Doodles gets home and it’s going to be one really loooong month…..