It began like any other morning, the night before my parents took me out to Olive Garden for the last time. I did not sleep at all and stayed up late talking to Carlos (my boyfriend) until he went to sleep around 1am. The last thing Carlos told me was “See you in a few hours, rest while you can. I love you.” I was reading stuff on my phone till about 2:30am when I passed out. I knew I was going to have to get up in a few hours but I was so nervous.
I woke up to my Dad hollering at me at 4:30am to get up while he took our dog Sophie outside. I had one long day ahead of me. I started to double check I had everything I needed. I was still mad at myself I had to leave the craft stuff I planned to bring with me behind. But how do you fit 31 years in a place into only 150lbs of luggage. It is near impossible. What do you know you cannot live without? What is most important to you? I struggled with these questions the past few months as I went through things and put what I thought I needed. Leaving all my books and craft stuff and parts of my gaming computer behind…it was tough. But material things aren’t important. My mom was going to start sending me stuff too so I could make cards while I was in Peru and send them back to her. She even asked me to send her some rocks because Carlos said the whole beach was covered in the rocks we buy for painting. (I can’t wait to see that)
Of course we rechecked that my bags were within the weight limit and a few were off by a few pounds. I had prepared myself to just be able to have everything ready and go. We had a three hour drive to Chicago ahead of us as well and my Dad did not want to have to rush. I rearranged a few things, took a few things out and we called it good. I got outside and I seen it had been snowing. Everything around me was covered in a blanket of white. I thought it was fitting because I was going to completely skip winter and go straight to spring and 70 degree temperatures once I arrived in Peru. I would tease friends of ours to enjoy the snow and cold. Of course they would laugh, but I didn’t really know if anyone here really took me leaving to live down there seriously. Most people told my parents I was crazy and of all places why Peru? I had an opportunity of a lifetime to change my life and be with the man I have loved for so many years. If I never took it, I would never know what we could be. I was scared, I was anxious, and I kept myself from doubting my decision. I admit I spent many nights crying because I didn’t even know what to think. I knew what I wanted but taking that first step out the door to reclaim my life was harder than I ever imagined.
It had snowed most of the way to Chicago. When it was dark still the snow made it look as if we were watching the space scenes in Star Wars when they traveled and the stars flew past them in the windshield. I took my last Mountain Dew my Dad bought me a week earlier and we shared it in the car. Enjoy it while you can, you don’t know if we will be able to find any down there. I wasn’t hungry and I had too many nerves to even want to eat. I did not want to risk getting sick and miss a flight stuck in a bathroom. (knowing my luck, it would probably happen) We got to the O’Hare Airport faster than I expected. I wanted more time with my parents. I wanted to have them finally tell me that they were proud of me and they approved my decision even if it was hard. That was all I really wanted. I knew they loved me and I knew this was just as hard on them. I made a choice and I had to see it through to the end.
Having them go and leave me there was even harder. Was this what I really wanted? Am I really crazy like everyone said I was? My Dad had to stay with the car so it wouldn’t get towed. He gave me a kiss and hugged me and I remember thinking I never wanted him to let me go. We were all crying. My Mom came in with me to be sure I got where I needed to go and I didn’t get lost in that huge airport. A nice security guard gave us directions to where to go into the security line to go where they had planes boarding on the other side. The whole thing was just so surreal. Almost like a dream, was I really doing this? Both me and Carlos assured them of my safety and that he would be texting me and watching the flights the whole way. It wouldn’t move or do anything without him knowing, and he would keep them updated as well seeing as there were times in between I would be without cell phone reception. Everything would be ok. I had to keep telling myself this too. I was so nervous I was shaking as my Mom gave me a hug and kiss and told me she loved me as well. She left to go back to my Dad and make the trip back home to Davenport. I promised her that I would video chat them when I got to Peru when I was with Carlos and his family so they knew I was safe. And that was it…
The more I stood in that security line, the shakier I got. I was so worried they would think I was suspicious and haul me off somewhere never to be seen again. It wasn’t like that. I got to where you check in all your things to go into the x-ray, wouldn’t you know it included every electronic thing and they had to be in separate bins. I had nothing but electronics including a laptop, computer parts, a nebulizer, tons of meds, and a Playstation 4 with controllers in my backpack and carry-on. This was going to be a while. Surprisingly enough it went well, one part done. I got to the other side and the TSA agent told me to open my carry on bag. I opened it as he was asking me about the rocks in my bag. I explained they are painted rocks we do in the Quad Cities area and I was bringing a few with me on my trip. He was very kind and just wanted to be sure they were rocks since he seen them on the x-ray. He helped me get my bag closed again and I was on my way to the first flight.
I was early of course and I was walking through the airport looking at all the holiday decorations they already had up. Tis the season! I had plenty of time and was tempted to go look in the shops there, but decided I was going to just sit and wait where I was supposed to be so I wasn’t rushed. Relax while I can. I was sitting and watching it snow outside as a plane was getting ready to leave for Tokyo, Japan. Wow…now that would be a long trip too. I was looking at the back of the plane, it had an elaborate bird on the tail. Pretty soon they had people go around it and put de-icer all over the plane and it too left. It was soon time to board the plane to Miami. They did the same to our plane and we took off. It was a pretty uneventful flight, they had tablets on the back of the seats in front of you and you could watch movies or play games. It was pretty fun. I also was talking to a lady next to me, she and her husband were from Idaho and moving to Ecuador to retire. Apparently people leaving the United States and moving out is more common than I imagined. Who would blame them though. The United States…well…its a mess, that’s all I can really say about that. She explained to me how things were different in Ecuador and many South American countries. “The environment is different and has a better feel to it than the US” is basically what she told me. Knowing I never been to a country so far away and on my way to Peru I would soon see what she meant.
We got to Miami and it was about 72 degrees outside and sunny. I couldn’t believe it, almost like magic from snow and 30 degrees, to sun and heat within hours. Isn’t technology grand? I just hoped I wouldn’t get sick from such a change in temperature so fast. By the time we got off the plane to Miami, the one to Lima was already boarding. So, the nice walk through the Miami Airport taking in the artwork and things they had up wasn’t going to happen. Instead I had to walk pretty fast to the next area. Carlos was on the phone with me the whole way and my asthma was acting up on me since I had walked so far. I looked at the floor and they had these amazing murals made of tile of large hurricanes. Neat…but isn’t that the last thing you want to think about there? Just saying! There were also little metal cutouts in the floor of fish and coral. I wished I could have gotten pictures but had no time. I took it one terminal at a time and Carlos was watching me go past them as he directed me on a map. Finally I got to the terminal I needed to be at and it was pretty full already. Good to know so many people want to go to Peru at once. It was comforting at least I wasn’t the only one. They closed the terminal when I got there and the nice stewardess followed me and we talked a bit. She had an interesting accent and I kindly asked her about it. She was from Venezuela. It’s so neat actually meeting real people from all over the world, and look I already met my first Ecuadorian, now my first Venezuelan. Things were looking up.
On that flight to Lima I was on the inside by the window. I had a view but by then the sun was setting fast. I wanted pictures of the ocean knowing I would get to see both oceans and plenty of countries under me. Before long I started talking to the people next to me. They were a husband and wife, and were going to Lima for 2 weeks for an International Jehovah’s Witness Convention. Interesting reason to go there, yes, but I never really met them or talked to Jehovah’s Witnesses except to tell them no thanks when I accidentally answer the door and they are there. Or of course playing James Bond and sneaking around hiding from the front door when some stranger in a suit comes by. So I really did not have a fair point of view about them at all. This lady and her husband were so nice though. We talked and talked. I told her about Carlos and why I was moving to Peru. She wished me luck and was surprised that we had been together that long and never been face to face. The fact I left everything to be with him was very interesting to her. but even she told me what many people had told me before, “The Lord works in mysterious ways and things happen as they do for a reason. We cannot rush His plans, we must be patient and he will show us the way.” Yeah, that blew my mind too. So I stayed with them getting off the plane and going through customs (I got a 90 day visa woot). We got to where we claim our baggage and they had to leave. The wife hugged me and wished me well. I hope they have lots of fun around Peru too.
After that I was alone again. Worst part was for the life of me I couldn’t get my phone to get any reception. I had all my bags and no idea how to begin to move them. There was an attendant that came by and I asked him if we had to pay to get a luggage cart. He was going to check the tags all matched and I had to find one more for him and he went to get me one while I looked. How sweet of him to do that. He even put them all on there for me after he checked they were all mine. I asked him where to go after that and the next room had a ton of people wanting to have you rent cars and drive you in taxis. (Ooo fancy, taxis) I asked the first attendant I seen about where to go and he started leading me into the next area where a ton of people were. He even started pushing the cart with my luggage on it for me. How nice was that? About that time I seen Carlos and his mom. She ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. Yeah, I been waiting to be able to do that since forever. Carlos wasn’t too far behind her and gave me a kiss and a big hug too. It was like a dream, I kept feeling his face and shocked there was no screen there in between us. Was I really in Peru? Was this really him in front of me? I looked up into his eyes and I knew I was home. I used to watch him work on the computer for hours and just stare at his eyes. They were so much more brown and beautiful than I ever thought. A webcam does not do justice to little important details like that!
That airport attendant even wheeled out the luggage for me too. Carlos had to tip him and I thanked him for his help. His uncle had a large taxi and was loading things into the trunk of the car. I was just looking around trying to take all this in. It was like being in a different world. We tried calling my parents first and of course, no answer as usual. So we called another close friend of ours and we spent about five minutes squeaking at each other in excitement that I had finally made it. She has known Carlos since we started off friends and began our relationship. More than anyone she has seen it grow over the years. My parents soon called back and we let them know I was ok and safe. Everything was fine. I was tired but the trip was finally over. They were happy to hear that and of course thanked Carlos and his Mom. It was late and they were tired from their six hour round trip to Chicago and back. I would talk to them later anyways. Just wanted to check in with them so they didn’t have to worry.
We got to the house and Carlos’s Dad was waiting for us here. Finally at long last I got to give him a hug too. He has had major health problems the past year and part of the reason I came to Peru was to help him too. Both Carlos and his Mom work as his Dad is unable to now. So keeping him company and helping him were both things I had looked forward to doing. I did the same for my Grandma when I lived with her. It was one of the best times of my life and I got to spend plenty of time doing things with her during that time.
That first night was…well…how do I say it, I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid if I fell asleep it would end up being a dream and I didn’t want to wake up. We stayed up until 5:30am and until we both passed out. He took my hand and promised me he would be there when I woke up. That was how we slept.
I woke up again once the sun came up a bit lost but Carlos was curled up on the futon next to me and I knew I would be alright. So thus the next journey in life begins, my life with my boyfriend and his family. He took the week off so he could help me adjust better and take me out places to show me around. I am excited yet a little overwhelmed with all this change at once. I knew this was not going to be easy but if I wanted this chance I had to work at it. Nothing worth waiting for and worthwhile happens for free. In the next weeks, months, or even years…I plan to keep blogging the things I experience. Suddenly now every day is a new adventure and I am excited to go out and explore it!