You know how I like to make this a multisensory experience...so, if you so dare, press play before you begin reading.
Five days ago Jeremy and I gathered our children, ourselves, two car seats, and more luggage than was necessary and headed to Reagan National Airport during the wee hours of the morning. We boarded a flight to Houston that lasted about three and a half hours and then as soon as we landed we booked it to our connecting terminal for our 13 hour flight to Tokyo. This is the part (one of MANY actually) where I'd like to take a minute and give a big shout out to God, my Abba, for helping my children be so wonderful. More wonderful than I could have even imagined during that flight. And I'd also like to thank Him for helping me not to lose my own mind during that flight. Because, truth be told, there were a couple times where I thought that might happen. We were crammed in there so tight, it was very reminiscent of Amistad. Except we had in flight cocktails and DirecTV, you know, minor perks, but still sardines nonetheless.
What made it worse was the fact that I had to stare directly at those A-holes in first class, sitting, no, RECLINING in seats that were practically beds and drinking coffee and tea from china cups. There were some tense moments between me and myself where I wanted to run over and slap them on their mask covered eyes with my Tom's and yell: CHILDREN ARE FORCED TO SLEEP UPRIGHT IN ECONOMY SEATING WHILE YOU SIT THERE AND RECLINE IN A HORIZONTAL POSITION! YOU ANIMAL! But, it was just a fleeting thought and thankfully it passed. Otherwise, I'm afraid we'd all be watching clips of me on the evening news. Not the fifteen minutes of fame I'd envisioned.
When we finally landed in Tokyo we had a few minutes before we boarded our final flight to Guam. This was the part where I learned it was true what I had been told: the Japanese love little blond children. I don't think my children have ever been fussed over so much, especially in a language they didn't comprehend. They were petted and sung to and I think they could have even brought up that whole Nagasaki thing and gotten away with it. We bought our trinkets and boarded our flight. The last flight seemed very brief compared to its predecessor and soon we had landed. In Guam. Our home for the next three years. Weird.
The first things to hit you about a new place are always (at least to me) very sensual and visceral. The smells, the sounds, the way the air feels on your skin. For me, Guam pretty much smelled and sounded the same as the states. But it was the air that struck me as different at first. It was warm and sticky. The kind of air that belongs to the sea. It was in that moment that I knew I wasn't going to have a good hair day for the next three years. I think there might just be a Brazilian Blowout in my future. And no that doesn't involve one of the infamous "massage" parlors here.
We were greeted at the airport by several of the people Jeremy will be working with. The military is good about that, I guess everyone is empathetic since we're all in the same boat, er, island. Unfortunately my mind had been so scrambled from all the travel I'm afraid I wasn't able to form very cohesive sentences and hope those folks don't think I'm "different". This here's Jill, she ain't right. DISCLAIMER: If you're a member of my family, you'll get that, if not, read The Painted House by John Grisham.
We were taken to our hotel where we will be staying until we can find suitable housing. And that is where I have been for the past five days. Waking with my children at two thirty and then three and then four and finally six fifteen. Watching the sun rise over the ocean. An ocean so wide and so vast it scares me to stare out at it for very long. There are so many things about this whole experience that can be scary. The fact that I am so far away from everything I have ever known. The fact that most of the writing where I am is in Japanese, and I don't know what the hell it says. The fact that I am on this piece of rock that is just a speck of dust comparatively to what I have previously lived on. But...it's OK.
Scary is only scary when you let it be. I have resigned myself to dive in headfirst to this place, to the people, to the land. I've said it before and it bears repeating: Every step of my life has prepared me for the next one. Do I consider it coincidence that the last place I lived was predominately Asian? Or that the majority of my friends were foreigners living in a strange land who could advise me on what to expect? Or that I am well versed in living without power and preparing for disasters? The answer is no. This is the part where I tell you a secret. A secret that you probably already know. I believe in God. Not just a god who benignly observes and laughs at the goings on of men. But one whom I call Abba: Daddy. He isn't far away sitting on a cloud shooting thunderbolts from his fingertips. He's here with me. He talks, I listen. I talk, He listens. The reason I'm telling you this is because it's the ONLY reason I could have gone through what I have in the last few years and come out smiling and STRONGER. It is the only reason I can wake up on this piece of rock and stare out into a sea that I have seen first hand the damage it is capable of and say: It is well. Funny, that. But true.
We drove around the island today. I stood on top of a mountain and observed the beauty below me. In an instant the past five years flashed before my mind. So much death and destruction and loss. But like a pair of phoenix, we we have risen from the ashes of our life and soared to higher places and touched greater depths of our souls than I could ever have believed. Funny, that. But true. So true.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I think they're about to begin the Beguine.
Mommy, that one's for you. I love you all the way from around this little ball we're all spinning on.