I got ahead of myself this week (doesn't happen that often; I'm tempted to savor the flavor). Sunday marked the arrival, very late at night nineteen years ago of my family from the only home they'd ever known, Germany. My wife and our children landed at/close to about eight at night in Philadelphia International Airport (I 'm tempted to say in the W. C. Fields Arrival Terminal but I usually resist. Until now) and were the last people to be able to leave the lounge.
I had learned the day before they would be flying into Philly. Their first arrival had become ensnared in red tape as various people offered their (unsolicited opinions) on visas and other non charge card matters and our reunion had been delayed by close to two weeks. It seemed to be a turbulent end to a chapter in our lives that I never really enjoyed as much as I should have.
The first year of the decade and a half plus I was to live in Germany seems mostly black and white to me. It was only after I met the woman I was to marry and started to make friends among those with whom I worked that color became part of the pattern. Thanks along the way to Lee, Chris and Moni, the other Bill, Roger and Rik, Darlene, Sara and Marge, Bob and Gisela (absent but always remembered) and to too many others I've forgotten who join my wife's mom and dad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and more neighbors than I could count even then, for opening their hearts and hearths.
I hadn't fully realized how much there had been home until I came here a month before my family arrived. My best achievements were as a husband and father-I just didn't know it, until I didn't have them on my resume anymore. My wife had successfully concluded the Deutsche Kapitel in our life story, perhaps to be continued at a later date, while her stumblebunny husband struggled to gain a toehold in New England.
I drove 95 South forever into the Philly where, true to form, I got lost twice coming off the interstate trying to find the airport (and yes, I know you can see the former from the latter and vice versa). Both times I asked for directions and the folks whom I hailed were as kind as could be leading me to believe, if just for that night, it was true "you've got a friend in Pennsylvania.'
There was a glass wall in the arrival area so you could see everyone for an eternity (or so it felt) before you could touch them. I watched our son, who had turned nine that summer, two steps ahead of his mother, who carried our daughter whose fourth birthday had been in May and whose eyes were as wide as saucers, clutching a mechanical pink pig as if it were her prized possession. Slowly they made their way towards me as I rushed to find a door to them and when we finally found one another I nearly crushed my entire family as I embraced all of them.
Our daughter, peering out the lounge window, offered 'Amerika is sehr dunkel' which was more prophetic than I'm comfortable admitting most days since her arrival. We piled into a stunningly non-descript POS I'd bought a week before (the German specs BMW sold for a song to a relative of a neighbor) and we began the long drive back to Southern New England, stopping on the Jersey Turnpike for food, and lots of it, especially for a nine-year old boy with hollow bones and secret pockets (I always assumed) as slowly our American Adventure began.
Nineteen years and (now) two days on. I could be here here and now; I would be, I should be. But how? Only with you. Always.