Saturday, August 9, 2008

Life As I Know It (For Now)...

Okay, to my recent very long post about transracial adoption I'll add some of my more recent thoughts (processing all these new ideas is a work in progress that, frankly, I'm really enjoying).

I went to umpteen stores today with Nina and I learned after not too long (because I'm trying to be very present in my thoughts about all this right now) that I don't wonder about or worry about what other white people think of my new little bundle. And I don't worry per se about what African Americans think. But I do wonder. And I am aware of and interested in the fact that I wonder. And, for someone who, when initially considering adoption from Ethiopia, was concerned about the seeming lack of African Americans in my area, let me tell you --- there isn't a lack.

I read a post on another blog a while ago about the idea that if you want to see something, look for it (and the author of that post, as a black woman in the midst of adopting from Ethiopia, was referring to the numbers of black Americans around her as well. She noted that someone had recently said to her that there weren't any, and she responded that she sees them everywhere!). How right she was; when you're cognizant of what you're seeing, what you're looking for is all around you.

Anyway, I became aware of two main things today: 1) I don't make eye contact with anyone when I'm shopping which takes me back to my days with newborn twins. If you make eye contact, you're inviting a question or an opinion. If you don't, you aren't. It has nothing to do with having an Ethiopian child or having newborn twins, it has to do with needing to get what I need to get without people's questions, comments, opinions, or hands getting in the way. 2) I realized that no matter the color of their skin, people who aren't going to comment nicely or support our family dynamic aren't people I'd want to be in a relationship with even outside of the adoption experience. So, frankly, if they're going to comment rudely (which NO ONE has done), I see it as a bit of a blessing. Show me your true colors now; that way, I don't waste time with pleasantries or thinking we're having an exchange that we're not having.

Okay - that whole thing is a work in progress for me. But I've gotten some nice comments about it and I enjoy writing about it.

One more thing I must say: I took Nina to three stores today to find her a bathing suit. We went to Target, Old Navy, and Marshalls. No bathing suits. The employees said they are "out of season." I'm sorry, What? We live in the desert, it's August and therefore hotter than f*^& (sorry, but it is), and bathing suits are out of season? Unbelievable. So I went to and ordered her a suit and a cover up to the tune of $31. I was hoping for something more like $6 at Marshalls. However, she's going to be so cute in it that we won't notice the bill. I hope.

Now, to the trip.

Here I am in my wonderful seat (3L) preparing for takeoff from Dulles. The flight was long, yes, but it wasn't as long as I'd imagined. The stop in Rome certainly helped just in terms of breaking it up. We were fed constantly (it seemed), and three movies were shown, none of them good. Even in business class, we didn't have our own TVs on this plane (we did coming back, but didn't know it until we were about 29 minutes from landing!).

I now realize why business class on Lufthansa or British Airways costs $10,000 while on Ethiopian Air it cost about $4,000. I have now made it my personal mission to somehow get a business class seat aboard Lufthansa or British Airways to Ethiopia to see how THAT expeience is. Not happy that we likely have to land in Khartoum, Sudan for refueling, but hey, it's all part of the experience, right?

As I mentioned in my Tip List, the flight attendants declared it naptime after each meal. I never took out my laptop or my book, but I did do a few crossword puzzles and am pleased to report that I completed my first one ever without getting help from the answers section!

I stared at this screen in as zombie-like a manner as I stare at the Weather Channel. Seriously, I could watch the Weather Channel 24 hours a day. It puts me in a meditative state. It was interesting to see the lakes and countries that I honestly didn't know exist. I'll admit that I did not like watching this screen when we were over the Atlantic because the idea that, if we have have to make an emergency landing, the only option is the ocean was not a great feeling.

This is a hanger at the Rome airport. This sign does say Aeroporti di Roma. I was beyond sad to know that I was in Rome and this was all I was going to see! The crew got on board to clean, restock, etc and I was like, "Okay, talk - I want to hear Italian!" By this point, I was tired enough that I asked Karen, "Do you think that the new crew will be Roman?" She said, "You mean Italian?" Yes, that's what I mean. I'm an idiot.

And here I am in baggage claim in Addis Ababa. We got through the Visa line and the customs line rather quickly and our bags were already coming out when we got into the baggage area. Thanks to Curtis for taking this picture (and so many others), proving that I indeed was in Ethiopia!

After this, the van ride to the Union Hotel Apartments took about 45 minutes. It was surreal to realize we were in Ethiopia while trying to take in the scenery around us (but NOT take in the diesel fumes!). It was raining (which it continued doing for the next 3 days). While we were loading the vans, several men came over to help load the luggage. We weren't prepared for this and were all digging through our purses to find $1 bills for each of them.

On the ride to the hotel, many Ethiopians came to the van's windows when we were stopped knocking and begging for food or money. The one image that will stick with me forever was a girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old, who came up to the opposite side of the van from where I sat. She said, "Welcome to Addis Ababa" and continued asking for "just one" over and over again. Her voice and the look in her eyes was as vacant as you can imagine. It was like there was a physical body there, but no spirit. It was the truest picture of complete despair I could ever imagine. I thought, "We'll keep going. But they'll do this all night every night, probably for the rest of their lives." It's something I can't even begin to process, and possibly never will. Trust me, nowhere in this country do we see ANYTHING like this.

I will note that I liked the smell of Addis Ababa. Okay, not the diesel. But there was a sort of smoky smell that permeated the air. It reminded me a bit of Sedona, AZ and all the incense burned there. We later learned that the smell was from the coal that those living on the roadsides burn night after night to stay warm.

This is the image that everyone longs to see - Johannes waiting with his sign! Johannes and Danny are as gracious as you'd imagine. They do this same thing time after time and the energy they have makes you think it's the first time they've ever done it. They are truly committed to these children and to their families and it was such a joy to spend time with them. I think we need to get them to the U.S. for a few weeks!!!

More to come...


Jana said...

ok,you are so funny. Of course you noticed the book cover. The book, apparently, is very, very hilarious. I had to pause from the book I was reading multiple times to listen to my husband cackling away. He then would have to do the inevitable "listen to this". His wife sounds very funny as well. Definitely worth the read, apparently. And then on to your post, love it! I so appreciate your take on things. I will remember the eye contact thing. Also love all the travel tips! oh and the bathing suit thing, that is just crazy. When we lived in Washington the same thing would happen mid-July when it was actually hot and swimsuit worthy. But it actually made decent sense, b/c soon it was going to be monsoon season. Your area, not so much.

Jana said...

Oh and I forgot, you are sweet but I am NO Christie Brinkley!!!

be_a_Mary said...

OMG I just about died laughing with the reminder of your 'roman' comment. that was hilarious!! :) i think all of us were speaking blunder by that point on the trip, and don't even get me started on the nonsense on the return--its like I lost all ability to think rationally or clearly, let alone to communicate whatsoever. I will never forget the look on the woman's face sitting next to you on the return, when she walked to her seat and saw all the babies in the front i thought she was going to maul us. she's thinking, 'oh fantastic, i'm traveling from Addis to Dulles next to a batch of BABIES.' what i don't think you heard was the woman behind me who rung the flight attendant bell to complain to her that YOUR baby had a blanket over her eyes and could get smothered to death. And she persisted then to insist that the flight attendant wake you up to tell you to fix Nina's blanket, or that she do it herself. I was mightily impressed with the flight attendant who responded, 'she's trying to cover her eyes from the lights on the plane!' you little baby smotherer you.