Alright, so here I am writing about stuff that happened on September 15 and 16, and it is already the 29th. The title is a word invented by Doug. He was waiting for me to say goodbye to people after my sister's post-wedding brunch a couple of weeks ago, and when I got to the car he sighed "Gefinallich!" Which he says is German for "Finally." But it isn't. It's just Doug being Doug. And we all had a good laugh and it has become a part of our interior silly-speak here at (a)musingsland.
I'm not sure who did what with the past couple of weeks, but I feel they've zipped by shockingly fast. Our GES has returned home, and I miss her horribly. I will do my best to record the thoughts and feelings after New York, which all seem a blur at this point.
After we got back from our New York trip, the following days were filled with work and work and catching up and work. I got home at 7pm pretty much nightly. I was actively cursing my commute because I was missing out on spending time with the GES, and I knew we'd be losing her shortly. I didn't want her to feel like we were never home during the week, but it seems that way to me sometimes.
I made dinner each night, we had candle light meals and joked that we do this allllllll the time. We talked at the dining table for a long time after the meal was over. Geoff was starting to warm up to her, what with five days left to her visit. So it was nice to see him trying to interact and think of things to say and ask.
On Saturday, we went on a whale watch out of Rye NH. We saw, auf Deutsch, "Zwei Wale, einmal. Oder. Ein Wal, zweimal." Auf English, "Two whales, one time. Or. One whale, two times."
It all depends on whether or not you're an optimist or a pessimist.
We met two German college students who were studying French in Montreal, who were visiting New Hampshire on a weekend trip. When we met them, Geoff told the girl "oh, my adopted sister is from Germany. Would you like me to get her so you can meet her?"
He retrieved the GES and Jess, and we stood at the bow of the boat on the way back into the harbor chatting about international travel, living overseas, and the whole exchange scene. I thought Geoff was so cute, for as aloof as he'd been up to that point and as detached as he was to the experience, referring to her as his "adopted sister" really made me smile.
It made seeing one whale two times, or two whales one time worth it.
We had a great dinner in Portsmouth NH at The Rusty Hammer. On the way back to the car the kids were way ahead of us, and ran into Carrie and Mark walking down the street. It was kind of weird looking up ahead and seeing Jess talking to people, and not realizing who they were... and I had to laugh when we got close enough.
I felt like ... wow. We know people all over the place, don't we. I would have stayed to talk longer, but Geoff was totally out of gas and way worn out and angry (we wouldn't let him have too much soda with dinner so he was pissed) so we split. I think our GES was kind of surprised a little bit that we know people wandering around towns far from our house.
Normally we don't... but it was kind of cool to give the impression that we're hip and have friends. Heh.
Sunday my parents came up to go to Geoff's football game. The team lost and Geoff pitched a complete fit... which is an entry that I'll write in and of itself because I have thoughts and feelings surrounding his reaction to losing that I want to really sort out, and here is as good a place as any to do so.
Needless to say, his freakingoutness grounded him for the afternoon. The GESes and their host families were having a party that afternoon, so I quickly wrapped Scallops in Bacon and roasted them, and ran the girls over to the party.
I stayed, which I didn't intend to do because I was unshowered and headachey, but the party was great fun and the kids were a riot. We brought balloons home for Geoff to inhale the helium out of and talk funny, and that cheered him up. Then we let him play with our neighbor Thane, which always cheers him up thoroughly... and he went on a long walk with Thane and his mom with the dogs and ended up having a much better evening than he had a morning.
On Monday morning, our GES and her traveling buddies all piled in a van (or, as she calls it, a "Wan") and drove up to Bar Harbor. They returned on Wednesday afternoon. I think it was nice they got to go, but it cut into our time with her and heck, we could have done that... taken her up there, stayed with friends... done that for the weekend instead of the whale watch and the party thing... but they did it on their own and that's part of the experience too.
I told her she had to tell her teacher that they needed to go see the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. Instead, they all got up really early on Wednesday morning and drove up to see the sunrise. She said it was spectacular... and she did something I've never done and wouldn't have given her while she was here.
We went out to dinner in Newburyport on Wednesday night after Geoff's football practice... the power went out in town, and I guess that dozens of GESes and host families were in town eating at all different restaurants, so we all had the same story to tell. Seriously, about 20 families were out to eat that night in the same town. We chose Indian food, and were the only people in our restaurant. I guess that all the others were at the seafood places on the river... so we ended up having the whole place to ourselves because our food came out just as the power went out... and we ate by candlelight and enjoyed having the run of the place... no one else was there. It was really nice.
After we came home, she went to her room and packed. She had stuff everywhere... and I offered to box stuff up and ship it home for her, but she managed to get herself organized to the one suitcase and backpack, and we crossed our fingers and hoped that customs/homeland security didn't open that thing and try to repack it... because there was NO way they'd be able to redo it. Horrors. We had a good laugh, and Gonzo slept in the bed with her (my dogs really loved her). And I knew in 24 hours we'd be at Logan dropping her off so she could go home.
Indeed, I rushed home to have a few minutes with her and Jess before we'd have to go to the airport. Doug had kidnapped them and taken them to Haverhill to walk around and get dinner.
She made a scrapbook for us and gave it to us before we got in the car to leave. It was all pictures of her from home... pictures of her with her family, and her town, and the things she does for fun. She rides horses. She rides a unicycle (which I didn't know and thought was totally awesome). She included pictures of her cousins, and Koln Germany, which is nearby as their big city like Boston is for us. She put in pictures of their family vacation to Australia, and all the cool things they saw. Even though the pictures were from this past winter, she looked like a little kid... not like the girl that was standing in front of me in my livingroom at that moment.
Pointing to the last pages, she said "and these blank pages are for you to put in pictures of me from here. I left them for you."
Can someone hand me a tissue? I'm gonna cry.
At the airport... it was quite a noisy scene, and I was thinking of the poor travelers who would be stuck on the airplane with these kids on their way to Paris for the next six or so hours... they were all rowdy, singing German drinking songs and TV theme songs from the USA... we were laughing and hugging and just generally dreading the time they'd have to go through security to go to their gate. We took group pictures with our families, pictures of the kids together, and just horsed around for about an hour and a half.
Our GES started to cry. She hugged us some more and we didn't have words other than "thank you." It was time to go... the teachers rounded them up and all the American kids followed in a pack. They (and us parents) stood a ways away from the gate and watched as they were coralled into the security routine. We waited and watched and waved, smiling weakly for a while. When I saw her smiling again at the person next to her making some jokes I figured that was as good a time to turn and walk on as any. We left with the thought of the smiles instead of the crying.
To get out of the terminal, we had to go downstairs to the lower level, and there is a kinetic machine down there that has been at the airport for years and years and years... it is one that we love dearly. So we sat and watched and enjoyed and decompressed from our sadness for a little bit. And we headed home.
And she's gone. Poof. Like that. The 14 year old stranger that landed in our midst for a few weeks, gone. I miss her. I miss the way she speaks English and how she'd laugh at my husband when he would speak German. I miss the way she would answer "um, a little bit" when we'd ask if she was hungry or tired or bored. Just the way she'd say it. I miss talking about Harry Potter with her. I miss how she was willing to just do whatever, eat whatever, go wherever, without an argument or a question or pushing back... her willingness to just experience what we had to offer. And that was the best part.
I can hope that my daughter is just as kind and willing when she goes to GES's house in June of 2008, and they'll feel half this way about her when she leaves them to come back to the US. I can only hope.
Anyway. I've got to get ready for Geoff's football game. I'll write later about what happened last Sunday with him, and other great adventures we have had in the last busy weeks... have a good day.