After eight long weeks, we finally opened the next chapter in our lives in our new home in Falls Church.
After adventures too numerous to mention and activity so nonstop we never had time to adequately document all we did, we finally settled into our new apartment, spread out, unpacked our suitcases and Tomica and sighed.
After two days of running to Target and Trader Joe's for food and supplies, we were too tired to cook so Elise and I decided to reward ourselves after the long drive with food we had been craving since the last time we were in DC: Ravi Kabob.
I made the kids noodles, steamed broccoli and cooked carrots and fed them. Elise took point on baths, and though everyone had napped until almost five we dove right into the bedtime routine. No one questioned our timeline, given the sleep deprivation all had experienced, and after reading about Thomas the Tank Engine's run-in with Diesel 10 and his "ching-ching" (as Peter is fond of calling the metal claw on top of Diesel 10's roof that he uses to terrorize the steam engines on Sodor), we tucked everyone in and I hopped in the car for the short drive to Ballston.
I took my iPhone with me with plans to plug-it into the auxillary port in the T&C's stereo and listen to my music on Pandora, Rogue Wave radio. I had been without my own tuneage since we left Brazil and didn't want to listen to country highway radio on Sirius XM, a Curious George DVD, Sam singing the Lion King a cappela from the back seat, or Clementine crying for no reason except that she has to be in her car seat. I wanted to listen to it loud if only for the few short minutes it would take to drive to Ravi Kabob.
As I left our apartment it was raining. The closer I got to Ballston, the more the rain became snow. Also, the closer I got to Ballston the more overcome by emotion I became.
The Band of Horses' song "The Funeral" came on. I turned it up. I came to the corner of Wilson and Glebe and lost it. This was our old neighborhood and all the memories, both good and bad, from our tumultuous time there came flooding back. I was sobbing, driving through snow. I am sure it was not only a tangible acknowledgement of how far Elise and I had come since those desperate, sleep-deprived days, not having any idea what lay in store for us, but blindly trusting that we would be okay, but also a release of what we had just been through, if nothing else all the moving, the immense effort and concentration and focus of will it takes to keep three children under five moving to a goal....and we had reached that goal. Finally. After the eight hour flight from Brazil, two trips across the continental United States, a fifteen hour drive through five states, we had made it.
I walked into the Afghan restaurant and placed my order, snow swirling in the neon outside, two boneless chicken platters with rice and chickpeas.
Remembering that Ravi Kebob only accepts cash, I dutifully pivoted to the ATM machine conveniently at my elbow and stuck in my card to extract a few greenbacks. The machine spit out a note like a girl passing me one in a high school class, "Insufficient Funds". I received the news with about as much enthusiasm if aforementioned high school girl had just dumped me. Surely there must be some mistake?
I apologized to the man at the counter and quickly opened the bank app on my iPhone. Due to human error (mine) I had paid a $1,100 bill twice. Sure enough, insufficient funds. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I instaneously transferred money from my savings account to checking. We were back in business.
Meanwhile, the man at the counter, sporting a beard that would have made even me envious, told me, "It is okay if you do not have money. Food is more important than money. You need to eat."
I placed my order and he returned to his game of dominoes with a man that looked strangely exactly like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I texted back and forth with Elise as I waited. "Turning to snow," I wrote. She informed me that boys were out of bed and at the window, looking on in wonder and awe. I could clearly picture there tiny faces pressed to the glass, watching the flat white flakes spin to earth in the parking lot lights outside our apartment.
As I drove back, snow flying at me through the windshield so I felt like I was traveling through hyperspace, or hurtling toward a future again unknown but full of promise, I knew that our time in Falls Church will just as memorable as our time in Ballston was and that it will press itself on the collective memories of all five of us in indelible ways, just as our time in Ballston shaped our family today.
It snowed our second night, first full day, and I have a feeling Falls Church is going to be very good to us.