Re-entry is a bitch

Location: Seat 1A, Virgin America flight VX 071, IAD -> SFO 

Are we seriously on our way home? After two months of enjoying life, could it be that our time away from reality is over? Or is it April Fool's and I'm really sitting out at Zen It beach, sipping on a cafe au lait? 

I wish.

No, we are in fact on a flight from IAD to SFO (or at least I think so - I had a few wines at the airport, so we could be heading anywhere). And yes, we are mid-flight. How great is Virgin America's on-flight Internet? I mean, OMG-great. But I digress. 

We left St. Martin on Sunday, and arrived at Dulles airport. Barely. It took four beers a piece to get us on the flight. We had a final meal of Alain's shrimp at the pool - as we began our trip, so we should end it. In the end, we boarded our plane (though we were the last ones on). It sucked to leave to start with, but then it got even worse. It was one of the most seriously white knuckled landings I have had in a very, very long time. I made the mistake of thinking to myself when we were boarding that this trip was perfect, and I would be happy going out on a high note... so when turbulence tossed us around like a paper airplane in a tornado, my hands got sweaty, my knuckles went white, and I prayed like I've never prayed before to backtrack my callous thoughts (know, the irony wasn't lost on me). Luckily we landed safely. Though, it was a nasty cold rain we greeted at Dulles, which briefly made me rethink my position...

For many weeks I had been teasing Steve that we were so tan, we were going to get stopped in Customs. I thought I was joking. When we arrived late Sunday night, and the customs official looked at Steve with his new facial hair, tan face and lack of glasses, he legitimately started to question whether it was Steve. I figured out what he was doing when he started to say things like "and Edward is your first name?" but Steve just looked confused, had to think for a few moments, and then simply said "No?" Seriously, there was a question mark in his answer. When the official asked him his date of birth, I started to seriously wonder if we were going to be detained, as my husband looked skyward and had to think... really hard... even though his birthday was LAST WEEK. I had to say "Honey, FOCUS!" so that he finally came up with the right answers. I was relieved that the customs official was obviously acquainted with idiot husbands with a bad case of the islands. 

We were kindly picked up at the airport by my parents... or so I thought. Turned out the weather was so nasty, the drive home was almost as white knuckled as our descent. We should have taken a taxi.

Upon arriving at my parents' house, we had some lovely wine, a good chat, and then retired upstairs. We decided to take a quick shower before we went to bed. When I got out, I exercised my new habit and shook the towel before drying off, not expecting anything... but lo and behold, three large beetles! My mom swears they were just harmless stink bugs, a yearly spring problem... but I know the insect world has clearly turned against me. I have offended them. I blame the lobsters. 

After our initial challenges, we had a whirlwind trip in Maryland - started with my parents in Chevy Chase for a night, headed to Howard County to see my brother, sister-in-law, and adorable nieces, and then hit White Marsh/Abingdon/Aberdeen (i.e. nebulous north-of-baltimore towns) to catch up with Steve's mom and brother, as well as my long-lost best friend from High School. We spent more time driving up/down I95 than we actually did at anyone's house, but it was still worth it to check in with the loved ones.

After many hours of attempting to predict Steve's Mom's reaction to his new facial hair, we were still caught off guard by her comment within 20 seconds of seeing him: "what, are you trying to be a pirate?" Pure genius. 

Though our arrival was greeted by dismal cold rain, by the time we left today, it was 75 and sunny, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. We almost postponed our flight to hang out in Rehobeth for Easter weekend (predicted to be in the 80's), but in the end decided we had neglected our home and critters for long enough. 

As we traipse across the country (albeit in virgin america luxury - and for the record, their first class is worth the $$, while United and American suck), I am in awe of how quickly two months can fly, and how earth-shattering a single trip can be in life. We discovered many things about ourselves.

First, we discovered that we can spend two months together, morning, noon and night - and even share a room key for six weeks - and not only not kill each other, but grow even closer.

(note: as I typed, I almost forgot that second "not," which would have rather drastically changed the meaning of my sentence. Freudian slip? I think not. But I digress... it must be the wine...). 

We discovered that you can meet wonderful friends in faraway places, friends you would swear you've known forever after only a few short weeks. Kristin and Marc, Jenn and Mark... you never know who you'll meet, or what impact they'll have on your lives. They each taught us something different about the path you can choose. I know we'll see them again, and I feel lucky to have met them, particularly at this critical juncture. 

We discovered that you don't have to work 9 to 5 to have a purpose in life. Making money and having a purpose... these things can and should be separated from one another. Just because you're not living the grind, doesn't mean your life is without purpose. The two do not necessarily go hand in hand. 

We discovered there is amazing food in distant corners of the world. Yum.

We discovered tuning out from the real world can have a tremendously positive effect on your outlook on life, and the world. The country is in a world of hurt, but sometimes it pays to just ignore it. Is that wrong? Maybe. But sometimes there's nothing you can do, so why kill yourself worrying about it. Focus on what matters in your own life, and getting your own life in order, and everything else will follow. At the very least, you'll sleep better at night. 

We were reminded of how much we love our family, and how much they mean to us. For better or worse, your family is your family. Distance may make the heart grow fonder... but time together can often make you appreciate them more. (Of course, we only spent a few days, so I'm leaving open the possibility that there is a corollary ;)

So what now? We are, as I write, heading back to "reality." But does that reality have to be the same as when we left it?

When we departed California on Feb 2nd, I was sad. Really sad. As in, wake-up-every-morning-sad. I'm not sad anymore, even though I still mourn the path in life that appears to be closed to us (or at least has turned out to be more difficult than I may be willing to tread). And after two months of healing and thinking and talking and exploring... 

It's time to make a break. To embrace a new direction. To stop moping. To stop wishing for something that simply isn't possible. Instead, it's time to see the opportunities, and pursue them. There is a missing piece in the puzzle of our old life. Going back to it without adapting isn't going to make it better. We have to change. We have to adapt. We have to move forward. After two plus years of knocking our heads against a brick wall, it's time to accept that the road is closed to us. It's time to embrace our new path.

Stay tuned. 

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