I wrote the other day about being “re-born” on the 4th of July. While I pondered over our trip, my daughters and mine, I thought about how eventful the whole thing was. I started with our day of departure and our final packing for the flight and came up with these thoughts.
24 July 2011. We packed our bags (I know, it sounds like a song lyric), not sure of what to bring or to wear on the flight, Then a friend dropped us off at London Heathrow Airport. Midway over the Atlantic ocean, it finally dawns on me that we are going to visit our home for the first time in eleve years. Emotional moment.
The clouds that have been following us from London Heathrow have turned into a storm that the pilot has to avoid. He does a great job as we arrive at Atlanta Airport early. The elation at arriving early soon disappears when we find out that due to lightening striking the runway repeatedly all flights have been delayed.
After an eight hour layover in Atlanta, we finally take off and arrive at Bentonville, Arkansas. It is two in the morning. We disembark to a hot and muggy morning with a temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit. It was like walking into a wall of heat. I had forgotten how hot Arkansas can get in the summer.We are both tired, sleepy and sweaty. Welcome home.
Zombie-like we shuffke off the tarmac and enter the terminal. Luckily everything is easy to find and we locate our luggage and head to the car rental desks.
After picking up the car, I have a moment of unease when I realise the car is registered in Ohio. Great, I think, out-of-state plates and it’s from the north. They might as well put a big sign on it saying, Mr Policeman please stop me and give me a ticket.
Driving out of a town, that I’d never really even visited when I lived in Arkansas, and on wrong side of the road and on a road that had not even existed eleven years ago when I had last driven a car state-side and in the wee, very dark, hours of the morning, did not really equate to a calm relaxing drive.
My daughter was so tired that she began to hallucinate and she swore that an English double decker bus had just passed us on the road. I saw police on every corner and by every sign-post. The nice chap I had gotten directions from at the airport had helpfully pointed out that every town between us and our destination (about three in total) was a speed trap.
Miraculously we do not get lost and find our hotel. We had a momentary panic when we decided that the entrance door would be locked. I had forgotten that hotels in America don’t lock their front doors like the hotels in England do. We pull up in front of the entrance and leaving my half asleep daughter in the car, I check us in. It is about four in the morning and I don’t feel exactly human or like I am tracking anything very well.
Luckily for us the room is right around the corner from the registration desk. My daughter has now gone beyond exhausted so I deposit her in the room, unpack the car and re-park it in the lot and put everything in a big pile in the room. I then turn up the air conditioner and crawl into bed. I am asleep in seconds. I do not even dream.
25 July 2011. We call my parents,grab a few biscuits and some bacon for breakfast and start packing the car up. Even though it is only about eleven in the morning the temperature is already over 104 degrees.
In the daylight, the area now looks more familiar despite the fact that the road has been widened, added to, and built-up with buildings either side of it. We both still feel tired, sleepy and too hot. We also feel very excited. I have not been here in over eleven years. The last time my daughter was here, she was nine months old.