Every Year I go to the States to visit my family. I go anytime between the end of April and beginning of August and stay from between 6 and 12 weeks. Usually I know 3 months ahead of time that I’m going, but this time I had only a week to prepare.
My husband was on the computer checking out tickets, and he came into the kitchen where I was slaving away over some meal that no one would like and he said, ‘Do you want to go to America next week?’ I thought he was joking, as he gets a kick out of getting my hopes up and dashing them, albeit good-naturedly, but I took the bait.
Sure enought, there on the screen, was a page of possible travel dates with not only this month attached to them, but this year, too. They also had not-as-expensive-as-we-feared prices attached to them. So we booked it. I called my step-father to tell him (ok, ask him) and we decided to not tell my mum. She’s not one for surprises, but hey, my husband’s not the only one who gets his laughs at others’ expense.
For some reason, that week before I went was the longest of my life. Not sure why. I was excited, yes, but I had so much to do, and really, I was in no hurry.
The day finally arrived.
I arrived at Manchester airport, on time, only to be greeted by a flashing banner informing us cheerfully that our flight was to be 2.5 hours delayed. Surely that’s for a different flight, I thought. Nope. It was mine alright. And the delightful lady at the desk said there was no reason to rebook my next flight; I’d make it on time.
Apparently I was supposed to get through immigration, collect my 3 suitcases, go through customs, go through another security check, get the shuttle and find my gate, all in an hour. With a 4-year-old. And a pushchair. Sure.
But, I did. Because the plane was late, the queue in immigration wasn’t so bad, my bags came quickly, customs waved us through, security wasn’t as tight as it should have been, and my gate was just inside the terminal. I had 5 minutes to spare.
As for the 7-hour flight itself? Not bad. There were a few empty seats, so the lady next to me offered to sit with her friends, giving us an extra with which to spread out. The food was so-so, the in-flight entertainment was mildly distracting, and my son was well-behaved. Can’t really ask for much better than that.
We arrived in Cleveland, bags impressively there, and my step-father pulled up 10 minutes later.
We arrived at the house, exhausted but excited. My son and I walked into the living room where my mum was on the phone. It was really strange; I had to keep reminding myself that my mum had no idea I was coming. I felt as if I was just coming into the house from being out. She turned, and I swear, I’ve never seen anyone’s jaw drop so far. She quickly got of the phone and said, no less than 62 times, ‘Oh my God!’ When she stopped saying that, she asked, ‘How long are you staying?’ I said, ‘Three months, and there better be clean sheets on the bed!’ She laughed manically and we both went upstairs to change the sheets. She said it was the best surprise she’s ever had.
Can’t wait to get my hands on all the great resources and activities here!