a little and a lot

Friday, October 21, 2011

The UnBirthday

I can't wait to start sharing my daily thoughts and experiences once the overseas mini-series is complete!  But alas, there is so much I want to remember about our time in Ethiopia before I move on.  So please indulge me with these posts while I play catch-up!

Somewhere within my Ethiopian adventures, I celebrated my 31st birthday.  My mom really wanted it to be special, but Nick was due to arrive the next day and I was just too antsy to have him there with us to think about anything else.

The day of my birthday, my gift was sleeping in.  It was glorious.  Thank you, Mom!  I dismissed the invitation to go get a pedicure.  I put off the suggestion of a yummy brunch at the Sheraton.  I just wished the minutes away and, wouldn't you know, a watched clock never turns.

Because of the connections and the time changes, it takes two days to get from Memphis to Ethiopia.  (We flew Memphis --> Chicago --> DC --> Addis Ababa.)  Nick left on Friday, the day before my birthday, and he arrived on Sunday, the day after my birthday.  My birthday just disappeared into thin air...It was a weird feeling.  (I'm a big birthday celebrator, if you're not already picking up on that--ha!)

The day he was to arrive, I went with our driver (who had become kind of a buddy by then!) to the airport to pick him up.  Nick's flight was delayed (about 3 hours!) so Abraham (pronounced AH-brah-hahm) and I chatted about anything we could think of.  He laughed when I mentioned celebrating my birthday--he told me most Ethiopians don't know when they were born (and they think the idea of celebrating birthdays is funny).  "How do you know how old you are, then?" I asked incredulously.  He said, "We just guess."  I asked him how old he was and he said his mother says he is 27 and his father says he's 28, so he picks 28.

Poor Nicholas, in the meantime, was on that loooong flight overseas and their flight was delayed due to someone becoming ill.  The plane had to detour and land in Rome before they could make their way to Ethiopia.  Hence the extra 3 hours.  (When your flight is already 15 hours long, an extra 3 hours is torture!)  Of course, we didn't know all of this until later--all we had to go on was the listing of "delayed" on the television screen at the airport.

Finally finally FINALLY we saw people leaving baggage claim from the DC arrival.  I was SO excited to see Nick--I scanned each face quickly in anticipation, and finally the face of my best friend and true love walked around the corner and lit up in weary relief and joy when he recognized us.  It was so weird to have said goodbye two weeks before and feel that we were reuniting a lifetime later with new responsibilities and life roles.

It sounds so wimpy that we were without Nick for only two weeks--I know I melodramatically make it sound like years.  But it kind of felt like years.  You just don't know until you know.

We spent the drive "home" just smiling each other and trying to catch up.  ("Hey, we're parents now!")  When we arrived at the guest house, Rhet was quiet and shy for about 5 minutes before remembering that this was the "Baba" she's been talking about for so long.  (Baba means "father" in Amharic, and she had been repeating it over and over since we had been with her.)  Then she proceeded to adore him exponentially.

Nick got sick with altitude sickness a couple days after arriving in ET.  Same symptoms, same length of time.  I selfishly felt so justified for being "normal" instead of the freakishly wimpy sickly frail person I worried I was.  Even with Nick being sick, it was STILL better having him in Ethiopia with us.

Our first family pic :)
And I know you are just feeling so sorry for me about the UnBirthday, so I will ease your concerns by letting you know that we did go to brunch at the ritzy glamorous Sheraton in Addis and treated ourselves as soon as Nick started feeling better.  Phew.  I know you are so relieved.  ;) 


Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more