Thursday, April 17, 2008

17 December: Return to America

Leaving Stuttgart...Take Two. A shuttle bus picked us up in front of the hotel this morning and returned us to the airport, where we had to go through the check-in process all over again. After a short wait, we boarded the DaimlerChrysler Airbus for the very last time and settled into our comfortable seats for the 8-hour flight across the Atlantic. It was a non-eventful trip with spectacular views over the icefields of Greenland and Canada. As we descended over the sprawling suburbs of metro Detroit, I noted that it didn’t look quite so dreadful when dusted with a fresh coat of snow…but it was still awfully flat. I think I will be missing the topography of southwest Germany for a long time!

We had no trouble getting Scotty and all of our luggage through customs at the Pentastar Aviation terminal; they didn’t even want to see my tin of foie gras. A white Chrysler minivan rental care was waiting for us in the parking lot to take us through the shabby streets of Pontiac and, finally, home.

My friend’s husband had thoughtfully cleared our driveway and front walk of the six inches of snow that had fallen since yesterday. We quickly surveyed the exterior damage to our gutter and garage roof caused by a massive tree limb that fell in our front yard last fall, then let ourselves in the front door. We were met by a rather rank mildew smell that turned out to be emanating from the bathrooms. Our house had been empty for nearly seven months and all of the water had evaporated from the toilets, leaving behind a very nasty science experiment. Fortunately a little bit of cleanser and bleach went a long way toward alleviating the stink. Friends had plugged in our fridge, turned up the heat, and even left us a supply of essential groceries, so all we really had to do to get the house up and running was to turn on the gas hot water heater and the water itself. We wandered around the empty house, overwhelmed by all the work ahead of us…bringing all of our personal belongings up from the basement, putting our office back together, turning the guest bedroom into a nursery, unpacking our shipment from Germany once it arrives…Meanwhile, John wasted no time in uncovering the Evo (our Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which has been stored in the garage) and getting it prepped to start the engine for the first time in nearly two and a half years. To his great pleasure (and a little surprise), it roared to life on the very first try!

By the end of the day we were exhausted, mentally and physically, and ready to put off all the work until tomorrow. Our high bed, fat mattress, and American comforter felt a little funny to us as we drifted off to sleep.

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