Ok, that title might be slightly unfair, but after almost 4 years of living abroad, I never thought I'd see the day when my parents finally touched down on Spanish soil. But I can say it was probably the highlight of my time here and we've had some pretty amazing times over the last 4 years so it's a high standard to reach!
You see, when we were in the planning stages of moving, I just assumed that they would come to visit us. Sure, they weren't big travelers but what a great chance for them to come and see us and explore somewhere new with us. What I didn't know until after we moved was that part of the reason they weren't travelers was because my mom didn't just not like to fly but had a deep rooted fear of flying. She had only flown 2 times before we moved here - a rookie ;). My dad loves to fly so I knew that he wasn't going to be a problem to get here, but I wanted them both to visit.
Now I hate to fly, so I get it. I also get that her fear is significantly worse than mine but a fear nonetheless and nothing to be dismissive about. But I stayed on top of things, even perhaps playing a guilt trip or two about getting here and how much I wanted them to see Barcelona and to see that we are not only surviving but thriving. That we don't live in a 3rd world country. Time marched on and no plans were made. There were always reasons - work, money, surgeries. All valid reasons but there never seemed to be the right time.
My brother got married in Minneapolis last year and my mom had no choice but to get on a plane - she certainly wasn't going to miss his wedding. I remember flying around 16 hours that day and my plane landed about 45 minutes right before theirs - they got off their plane and I met up with them. My mom proceeded to tell me how exhausted she was. You can just imagine the look of death I gave her since her flight was 3 hours to my 16. But for her, this was exhausting - it was her first flight in 25 years. It was way out of her comfort zone and at the time (I was so beyond exhausted) I don't think I understood just how terrifying it all was for her. And I wasn't very sympathetic.
But she survived the flight and so I got back on my "visit Barcelona" bandwagon again since the flight was fresh in her memory. And we did the back and forth... again. Yet another year had gone by and we'd been here 3 years. Some of our visitors had been 2 or 3 times to their none. All I wanted was for my family to come visit.
When the bombs went off in Boston on that fateful day in April of this year, I called my mom and said "we're done messing around, I'm booking your flight right now while we are on the phone." I think the whole conversation terrified her. Hell, I think the next several months she spent obsessing about this flight. And we had many talks where I suspected she was going to tell me to cancel the flight and every time I felt the conversation going that way, I would re-direct (as she taught me so well) and move the conversation somewhere else. I wasn't going to give an out. Unfair, I know. But my intentions are honorable, right??
Time started to creep closer and it became the basis of much of our conversations. About what to pack. About what we were going to do on their visit. The fear was slowly starting to turn to excitement. The countdown was on! We were hitting the point of no return and I felt pretty confident that they were actually going to make it here!
My dad has some mobility issues so I arranged for extra assistance in the airports and I think that helped to make the transition between flights a little less stressful for them. Neither of them slept on the plane and as I had stated to Aidan a few times before, I was a little nervous about what to expect when they got off the plane. Was I going to get that look of death for putting her thru such a traumatic experience? Was it going to be pure exhaustion? Or was it going to be total exhilaration for having conquered such a huge fear and anticipation of what was to come during the visit? I was hoping for the latter!!
I braced myself for the worst as I waited at the T2 arrivals gate. I tried to think of how I was going to get her home to Boston if she refused to get back on the plane to go home in 10 days. Was this flight going to traumatize the rest of the trip???
What I didn't expect was the HUGE grin on her face as she and my dad exited the baggage claim area. Never in a million years did I expect to see such a smile on her face after flying on her first transatlantic flight. Something she had been terrified to do. They made it! And the 10 days have flown by so quickly, tomorrow they head back out to Boston - it's going to be a sad day for us all, having to say goodbye for another 8 months (though better than our usual 12-14 months at least). And I haven't heard one word about her being worried about the flight home. I'm so proud of how far she's come on this trip, leaving her comfort zone and embracing new and exiting places, things, food and more. She even uttered the words "the next time I come to Spain" the other day. See, miracles really do happen :)
More to come on their visit soon!!