One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Epilogue | Acknowledgements
Chapter Two: Into the Home Stretch
The phone rang promptly at 5:30am, but I was awake long before then. In fact, I was showered and ready to go by 5:15am. Lynne was still asleep, so I read sitting on the floor for a little while by the light of the bathroom, trying to distract myself from the day we have waited for. Christmas was never this intense!
Lynne awoke soon after, and by 6:30, we were munching on rolls and fresh fruit in the Concierge Lounge, trying to contain the excitement. If there was any doubt that this trip or our adoption of Paden would really happen, it was vanquished long ago. In my view, it truly seemed real to me when we stepped off the plane in the Taipei airport.
At 7:00, we got into a Taxi, headed for the local airport. At first, we didn't know the flight was leaving from a different airport than the one we arrived in. This airport is in town and for domestic flights only, and seems to be shared with the military, as there were plenty of fighter jets to be seen on the ground and taking off. And, true to tradition, we were very early, and the only ones in the gate area until close to departure time.
One odd thing was when we were getting our boarding passes, and they asked if we would like to purchase a breakfast for the flight. Since we had eaten, we said no thank you. But that would have to be a very quick breakfast to be served on a such a short flight. On the other hand, perhaps they count on your lack of appetite, my recent previous airline food experience being the control group to measure by.
This time, however, we were paying attention at the gate, since we were fairly sure that the instructions from the gate attendants were not going to be in English! As soon as the others sitting around us got up, so did we.
The flight was on a small commercial jet, not one of the big wide-bodies that cross the ocean. While the flight only lasted for about forty-five minutes, the actual period of time on the flight is hazy to me. Whether I dozed during the flight, or was so lost in the upcoming events that I have blanked it out, I'm not sure. I'm positive that you could have robbed me blind, and I wouldn't have known it. But, suddenly, we were on the gound and exiting to the ground-stairway to board busses to take us to the terminal. I made a special note to myself to grab a seat on the bus early on the return flight; holding a baby and trying to maintain balance on a moving bus is something that Cirque Du Soleil is better at than I am.
We arrived at the terminal and collected our single bag (we had left one suitcase and the car seat back at the hotel in Taipei) from the baggage claim area (which we almost walked past, it was the smallest baggage claim area I have ever seen!). Out to the sidewalk, and over to the Taxi stand, we told the taxi captain we needed a cab. With my HeartSent book in hand, I showed the taxi driver the hangman drawings that meant "Hotel Landys", and we were off. Tainan is a much smaller city than Taipei, and it seemed to be much more urban. We saw plenty of rice fields and fish farms on the way down, and the streets were narrower and filled with more industry (car repair, manufacture, etc.). It was every bit as exciting as Taipei, however, and the motorcycle-to-car ratio stayed true. The hotel proved to be equally receptive and courteous as the Hyatt, if not a bit smaller. We brought our bags upstairs, and washed up for the baby. Can't have a baby's first image of their parents be one of airplane grunge.
While every cell in my body was telling me to run straight for the Nursery, there was this really weird feeling while we were getting ready. We looked and admired the crib they brought to us, examined the bedding, checked the thread count on the cloth. It was as if we were procrastinating, and yet we couldn't wait. Part of it we wanted documented for Paden's benefit, video and pictures for him to review a world he wouldn't really remember. And this was for our benefit, as well, for I'm certain that a lot of it would become hazy in the cloud of emotion over time.
Eventually, my true nature came to the surface, and soon I was fidgeting and pestering Lynne to go. It was close to 10:30, and every second we were here was one less we were there. Finally, with the look I have grown accustomed to see (after ten years of marriage, you almost don't notice it!) from Lynne that says, "Too much caffeine?", we were in the elevator and heading down to the lobby and another taxi.
Another gesture at unknown characters from our HeartSent book, and we were on our way. I tried to take in the sights of Tainan, which is quite a bit different from the scenes of Taipei. However, I found could not focus on any one thing, my mind was racing faster than the plot from a Tom Clancy novel. We passed many shrines and temples (perhaps we should have stopped to meditate?), and without warning, we were pulling into the driveway to St. Lucys'!
Exiting the Taxi, we stood in front of the building, taking in the moment. It started to seem very surreal, as if the moment were stuck in time. The Security Guard came over and asked us if were here for the Nursery. When we said "yes", he said, "Second floor", and gestured for us to go inside.
This was it.