I woke up around 8 this morning and packed up everything strewn about the Corradis’ dining room, everything that would be accompanying me for the next seven months while living abroad. Last time I went abroad I packed as if France were the next frontier. I basically filled up a backpack with a few articles of clothing and a bunch of knives and camping gear. Naturally, living in Tours, a city an hour outside of Paris, was hardly roughing it, and I ended up purchasing a ridiculous amount of things that most people would have thought to pack. I like to think I’ve gotten better at packing to be comfortable without overdoing it. I even managed to find room for a couple bags of good coffee and an 8-cup french press. If I ever begin to miss home or feel uncomfortable, I’m sure that’ll do the job.
Luckily, I also had time to purchase a glow-in-the-dark penny board at the Mall of America before meeting my parents at Humphrey International. My flight’s inclusion of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in their movie selection is a clear indication from a higher being of what I need to do during my 19-hour layover.
While at the mall, Mary and I wandered to the restaurants on the third floor and decided upon Noodles and Company. “Hah,” she said to me after we had sat down at our table. “Last date.” Go figure! At least there was wine!
At 5:30pm, we met my parents near the check-in area for Icelandair. The previous night they had driven to Uptown so we could have dinner together one last time. I took them down the street to Muddy Waters. Despite an array of unique entrees, it came as no surprise that my mom ordered a pepperoni pizza and my dad, the pork sandwich. “Nothing weird,” is often the only restriction on where we go to eat when they allow me to choose. Tofu is weird, I guess. That used to bug me a lot when I was younger. I think it’s funny now.
Last night as we walked from Muddy Waters to French Meadow for dessert, I watched strangers that we passed on the sidewalk smiling back at my mom. I realized that she was smiling at them as she passed, cheery to be walking outside on a perfectly cool night to get dessert with my dad and I. People really don’t smile to each other in passing in Minneapolis, so it was cute to see my mom bringing that out in the people we passed. When I was younger, I never noticed those qualities about them. I would be more focused on how annoying it was that my mom ate so slow or that they always went to the same two restaurants. Those characteristics that drove me to the point of sadistic actions directed at my pillow in frustration have become endearing.
After realizing my toothpaste couldn’t be taken in my carry-on, they immediately took me to the convenience store and bought toothpaste for me and asked multiple times if there was anything else I needed. Their eagerness to help, from purchasing toothpaste to insisting on taking $40 for “peace-of-mind” are just reminders of how much they care. I’m sure they would have bought one of everything had I asked.
Mary and had a drawn out goodbye the last fifteen or so minutes before I finally went all the way through security. An older woman with a family-size bag of barbecued Lays was sitting a couple seats down from us, eyeing Mary and I while we hugged. She was mechanically licking all of her fingers. It was much the same way I have experienced walking upon an unsuspecting squirrel eating in the park. Shifty, territorial glances, quick rapid movements. It was in such disharmony with what we were doing that I laughed to myself. I guess we were both having moments, though, and for all I know, we were disrupting her.
22 minutes until we land in Reykjavik, and my ears are popping as we descend. If you’re reading this, that’s really great, and it is appreciated. More to come – I’ll stay busy writing as everything unfolds. Cheers from somewhere over the Atlantic!