We've been back just over a week now. Our actual reentry day was a bit shaky, but life has been great since then. Our flight, which was scheduled to go Quito/Miami/Chicago/Seattle and for which we had boarding passes all the way thru, hiccuped in Chicago, when the boarding pass machine read "Calgary" instead of "Seattle." So we got bumped to the next flight, two hours later, and that was delayed for an hour, so we arrived in Seattle about 12:30 am. Mia had heard that her friends were going to come meet her at the airport, but we figured that with our late arrival, they would bail. However, our good friend Susan, and three of Mia's best friends met us at the airport and took us home, to a house decorated with a "Welcome Home" sign and fading red helium balloons; to a fridge stocked with essentials like Jarlsberg cheese and red wine; and to clean sheets and towels left by our recently departed tenants. Although we'd already been up traveling for 22 hours, the excitement for all of us, especially for the girls, looking thru almost forgotten boxes of belongs kept us up until 3:00 am.
The next day saw us on the road by 3:30 pm, after a morning rollerblade by Debby and me, for a four-hour drive to Lake Chelan, to a weekend with our old "gang." I think the super-charged oxygen bump coming down to sea level from 8,500 ft must have kicked in, because both Debby and I saw the sun rise at the lake the following morning.
So now we've been back a week, and we are basically unpacked, and the girls are ensconced in their now separate rooms. I feel that for all of us, the "transition" has been great, primarily because WE LOVE OUR LIVES IN SEATTLE. Of course, we are still on vacation, and staying out late at clubs and sleeping until 9 or 10:00 (guilt-free, I should add), but still, we have moved back to the life we loved before we left, and guess what? - we still love it!
Friends. We have such awesome friends, who have welcomed us back, told us how much they missed us, and eased our re-entry. This holds true for all of us, although Nikki's reunion with most of her friends was delayed for about a week, since most of them were in Japan for a class trip at the end of their John Stanford International School career.
Food. The variety of food here is amazing. Sure, mangos are 2 for $5 (instead of 4 for $1) and papayas and pineapples are $5 each, but it's berry time, and the strawberries and blueberries and raspberries, some from our own garden, are great. So is the sushi, Mexican food, grilled salmon, micro-brews and good coffee. The variety blows us away - there are 31 flavors for God's sake!
Family. Perhaps because we've been together so much for the past year, it is so nice to see the trust our kids are placing in us. Tonight I had them take down their lemonade stand in five minutes so we could have a picnic dinner in the sunset at Gasworks park - not a word of dissent or complaint. And last night, Nikki initiated a Spanish language conversation with me - Nikki, who wouldn't even speak Spanish if Debby or I were in the same room with her just a month ago! Although we are all digging our friends and our own "being home" trip, we come together as family smoothly and comfortably - no meltdowns or whining all week, even when hunger or tiredness might suggest otherwise.
Exercise. Debby and I have both been rollerblading several times this week, and Debby went mountain biking at Lake Chelan. Although I haven't started running yet, I tell myself that the roller blading is building up my cardio-vascular capacity!
Music. We've been rediscovering the type of music we loved in all sorts of forms - at parties and clubs, and on our friends playlists!
So that's it. This is my last blog post on our sabbatical year. It's been a great year in Ecuador (where?) but it's great to be back. In Cuenca we met many ex-pats who were fleeing something, imagined or real, from their home. Others, on a limited-time sabbatical like us, anticipated the life-changing effects the year would have on them and talked about the changes they would need to make to keep that Cuenca-feeling. Neither of these scenarios was ours. We were, for the most part, conscientiously living the kind of life we wanted before we left last August. And spending a year abroad was a dream from that life. And now, dream realized, we come back to that life, both altered and enriched by the dream.