I kissed my baby goodbye outside of the Lufthansa terminal in Houston on Friday. A yucky cold rain fell on us all the way to the airport. I think it helped to subdue the girls' excitement, but couldn't wash it away completely. I could sense it bubbling in my van all the way there, despite the quiet. Just pulsing waves of unreleased nervousness and anticipation.
I remember that feeling - a thick feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes it hard to breathe. That's how it was for me, anyway, when I was saying goodbye to my parents and my boyfriend at that same airport thirty-three years ago, just before I walked onto a narrow airplane pointed at England, the first stop on my whirlwind month-long tour of Europe.
There are seven girls in all traveling with the high school Spanish teacher over Spring Break. Brave woman! I'm so grateful for teachers like this one who are willing to give kids a cultural experience. There is no education like travel. My parents took out a loan to pay for my trip back in 1976. It's still one of the best experiences of my life. How can I repay them for that? The only way is to encourage and help my own kids to get a taste of travel themselves.
This is actually Kendall's second trip to Spain. Last year there were about ten kids, including two boys, and I had to say goodbye in the high school parking lot. Tom and I did the pick-up shuttle at the other end of the adventure. What a rush it was for me when I spotted her emerging from the tunnel, looking tired, a little ragged around the edges, pulling her suitcase behind her. My little world traveler.
As a parent, it's a scary feeling sending them off into the unknown - but also as a parent, it's so exciting to know your children are learning, growing, feeling wonder and awe, having adventures, being responsible, experiencing new cultures.
So, despite the rain and that whole "unknown" bit, and the image of this tiny airplane holding my baby crossing the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean that I couldn't keep out of my mind, I was happy and excited for her as I pulled away from the airport Friday morning. And every time that image popped up in my mind, I'd just imagine thousands of angels guiding it safely across, holding it steady and aloft. Answers to my prayers.
Once at my parents' house, I pulled out Kendall's itinerary, figured out where she was, what she was doing. We Googled everything we could, taking our own virtual tour, huddled around Mama's computer screen.
Saturday there was an email in my inbox: "hey we made it safely to spain and now in madrid =] i hate flying now though." Thank goodness for Internet cafes!
According to the itinerary, my baby is enjoying lunch on her last day in Madrid, a break in between touring the Royal Palace, shopping, and a few more museums. Tomorrow they'll be in another part of Spain. The time is going to fly by for her, I imagine. For me, it'll seem like forever until I see her again on Sunday.
It's been more than thirty years...I can't believe it! Here are Donna, Laura, and I in the Houston airport, preparing to board...me in Madrid, standing in the Plaza del Toros...Matt, me, and Pattye Wilson at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I tossed my coin in, so I know I'll be back someday...