The flight home went surprisingly well for the first eight hours. The remaining two hours were substantially less successful with the last hour being one of the longest of my life. Coco no longer wanted to be on an airplane. She yelled in my ear but that's not the worst of it -- she also refused to return to her seat, close her tray table, or stow her electronic devices.
As I wrestled her into her seat and buckled her in, I thought, man, where's a goddamn air marshall when you need one? I could have used some help with an unruly passenger.
Even with Coco clawing at my face, my spirits lifted when we crossed the Canadian Rockies --
We were getting close and I knew what I was about to see. And sure enough, there it was on the horizon, right where I left it three years ago --
Hell yes, Mount Rainier
When I saw Mount Rainier, tears streamed down my face, though whether they were for love of that damn volcano or the debilitating pain of Coco's scratchy fingernails on my sensitive face skin, I really can't say.
We're temporarily living in an apartment in downtown Seattle. It's not as charming as our Paris apartment but it's bigger and warmer and has a full-on view of the Space Needle. The Space Needle is not as pleasing to the eye as the Eiffel Tower, and in fact looks to be something left behind by aliens after a halfhearted space mission, but I've still been staring at it a lot and grinning like a fool.
my ugly-ass beloved symbol of home
The kids have been awake every morning at a really stupid hour because jetlag is a bitch. The first morning found all four of us piled in our bed, looking at the Space Needle and eating Nacho Cheese Doritos at 3:00 a.m. The early hour sucked but I really love Nacho Cheese Doritos, so all in all a pretty good morning.
Life back home so far is strange, surreal, bizarre. It's like someone walked into my home and moved everything twelve inches to the left. When I come back in, I recognize it all, I can find it all, yet somehow something's off and I'm standing unsure in the middle of the room thinking "OK...who's f*ckin' with me?"
I've found the overbearing friendliness of people a huge relief, but jarring nonetheless. Their smiles are so big in front of my face, I have to fight the urge to give them a karate chop to the throat. Stop trying to help me, goddammit! I am an island!
I've gotten lost several times in a city I used to know like the back of my hand. I'm now terrified of driving and am hunched over the steering wheel like a little old lady with sweaty palms and a racing heart whispering "ohmygodohmygodohmygod." Related, I've discovered my two kids are afraid of riding in cars, especially when going up and down steep hills, of which there are many in Seattle. They both scream at the top of their lungs and Lucien yells, "IS THIS HILL ALMOST DONE, MOMMY?" It makes errand-running super exciting but is not helping my driving nerves any.
Oh. My. God. What. The. Hell.
Our first grocery shopping trip Stateside took hours as we walked every single aisle, delighting in items we'd completely forgotten about. Pirate's Booty! Craisins! Dryer sheets! I became hypnotized in the cereal aisle and wasted a good twenty minutes deciding between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Bunches of Oats. We bought a lot of bacon, too, because my God we missed bacon.
Worlds colliding -- Paris coat meets case of Northwest microbrew
I kicked our washing machine today when it stopped after fifteen minutes. We thought it was broken until we remembered that's how long it takes to do a load of laundry here, as opposed to our two-hour machine in Paris. My God, I can do more than two loads a day? Oh, the wondrous laundry possibilities!
In other news, I went to an "authentic French bakery" near our apartment where I promptly spit my almond croissant onto the sidewalk outside. So, so bad. That one's gonna hurt.
I've returned to Seattle a different person, as it should be, but thankfully my heart still sings in these streets. Paris is beautiful, but Seattle is cool. Paris looks perfect, Seattle rough around the edges. Paris is fantastic and exciting and I love her forever but Seattle is home.
There's so much to say about these first few days but the Paris blog is not the place -- so come see me at my new Seattle blog or suffer the dire consequences! I'm calling it "Seattle Moxie" because I've realized the greatest gift Paris gave me was a whole lot of moxie and a whole lot of fearlessness. I don't ever want to lose it. If I do, someone kick me in the teeth.
Come on over, posse -- Seattle's waiting for YOU. www.seattlemoxie.blogspot.com. I haven't actually posted there yet but have great confidence I'm going to get around to it any day now.
We're home, Seattleites, so keep an eye out for us. Shouldn't be too hard to spot -- we're the car full of screaming people on the hills of downtown.