(Written Monday night... Didn't have home internet until a few minutes ago. Long story...)
Fair warning: this blog is a random collection of thoughts. I'm exhausted and jet-lagged, a dangerous combination.
I arrived home in Jeddah at 11:45 last night, after 28 hours of travel. My very good friend L, who is from the same town as me and now lives in London, was able to get on the same flight to Heathrow as me. So we traveled down to Boston, hung out in Logan, and then flew to London together. That made the first 13 hours of travel a whole lot more fun! Plus we wrangled two seats next to each other, despite the best efforts of the surly and passive-agressive American Airlines check-in agent. About halfway through the flight we tried to figure out the last time we'd flown together. Even though we travel together as much as possible, we usually drive or meet somewhere. We realized it was back in 1995, when we traveled to France for three weeks for a twinning inauguration between our town and one in southern France. Accompanied by two other close friends and three adult chaperones, we had the time of our lives on that trip! That was actually the first flight for both of us as well as our first overseas experience. We both got hooked. L has lived on several continents and traveled widely, just like me. Our friendship has endured for two decades, and we're always dreaming of our next trip. (The current shortlist: Morocco, India, Turkey.)
I had a relatively short layover in Heathrow (3.5 hours). That may sound like a long time, but it can take up to two hours to transfer terminals there, so you just never know. Luckily I had plenty of time after clearing security and airline check-in, so I had a hearty breakfast (including pork, of course) and was able to spend an inordinate amount of time (and money) at Harrod's. More on that later. Anyway, the next flight went smoothly, and we landed in Jeddah only a few minutes late. I breezed through immigration and customs (thanks to our wonderful expeditor team) and was on my way home. My driver looked at my three suitcases and just shook his head and laughed. So, I did a little shopping in the U.S. Mostly for foodstuffs I have a hard time getting here. Salad dressings. Jams. Seasonings. Clotted cream. You get the idea. I weighed my options a few days before leaving home and decided it would be about the same price to ship my purchases as to buy another suitcase and pay the extra baggage fee. I opted for the get-it-quicker option. And just now, when I unpacked, everything came through intact!
Ever since Hattie's untimely and tragic death, I've been overly paranoid about leaving my cats. Even though my housekeeper comes by every day and checks in on them (she's amazing like that), I still can't help but worry. It has nothing to do with the level of care they're getting (stupendous) but with lingering emotions from the trauma of losing Hattie the way I did. It was really only the last few days of my holiday that I realized that the worry was weighing on me, when I started having nightmares about coming home and finding them dead. So even though I rationally knew they were fine, I didn't really relax until I walked through the door and saw them healthy and happy. Jeddah's airport continues to be a difficult place for me to be because of the memories of Hattie's ordeal. And I spend a lot of time there for my job, which both helps to normalize the place and serves as a constant reminder of what happened. It's an interesting emotional roller coaster. I often sleep poorly after a trip to the airport. Time heals, though, and it's getting better. And the two furballs currently curled up on either side of me help too.
I went to sleep last night thinking about how to rearrange the furniture in the guest bedroom so as to maximize space. This morning I walked in the room to look at the dimensions and found that my housekeeper had already moved the furniture into the exact configuration I'd been thinking about. We never talked about this. I think she can read my mind :-).
And now back to Harrod's. I knew when I planned this trip home that I would be spending Christmas away from my family for the first time ever. So while I soaked up family and holiday spirit while home, I also apparently decided that Christmas was going to come to me. I ordered my first artificial tree (which may not make it here until after Christmas) and several LED candelabras, bought decorations for my office (glittery penguins, a camel, and a flamingo - because they're pretty), ordered a fruitcake and familiar Christmas goodies, and bought traditional mince pies at Harrod's. I didn't expect the sweets to arrive so soon, but I picked up my fruitcake this afternoon. It's in the freezer; I'll take it out when I'm needing a holiday pick-me-up in a few weeks.
That's my random blog post of the day. I've had a VERY busy and somewhat stressful week, although fruitful in many ways as well. My UAB and the first of my HHE shipments are being delivered tomorrow, insha'allah. Of course this isn't the fun HHE shipment but rather the random one from storage. But I do get to see what has been in storage for up to 10 years...