Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Last Hurrahs

It's been a few days, hasn't it? David and I went to Big Bear for the weekend to celebrate our couplehood. It was starting to seem like folly to go away one week before "the big trip," but once we arrived it was oh so right. We were making our second visit to a bed and breakfast called "Apples," and you guessed it, it's all about the apples there. ;) We stayed in the "Yellow Delicious" room, complete with in-room jacuzzi, twin Laz-y-Boys, crackling faux-fire, and an entertainment center for viewing selections from their massive movie library. This is the kind of place that not only porks you up at breakfast (Dutch Babies with pecan syrup, mmm!) but lays out a "hot, homemade" dessert every evening and a cheese spread in between. You could basically just lie around in your room all weekend and friends, that's practically what we did.

We did have a couple little adventures -- there was the aforementioned "Snow Tubing," a winter sport in which you are almost guaranteed not to break your legs, since they are only inches above the ground as you belly your way down a hill on a big, black innertube. There hasn't been much snow recently, but the park was well-groomed and packed with families. Once you are barreling headfirst you can't stop or steer for love or money, which is how we had our one bizzare mishap--a man yelled at me for "hitting his kid." I was so confused that I didn't know what to say but whatever it was, it was somehow not adequate to convey "I didn't get anywhere near your kid, you petty a**hole, but if I had, let it be a valuable lesson not to let him wander drooling in the path of hurtling toboggans." For reasons that were not at all clear to me at the time and only slightly more illuminated now, *I* ended up turning into the 4-year-old, petulantly dragging my tube towards the fence and whining over my shoulder to David, "I'm going home!" Then I dropped the tube to the ground, my butt onto the tube, my head into my hands, and sobbed with abandon. For several minutes David sat patiently by me whispering, "What are you feeling?" (Isn't he a love?) Well, shucks if I know. I think mostly I was overcome with the twanging, tentative tension of this kooky time, clocking each remaining day until I fly off to China to bring my daughter home. I had a good cry, really needed it, and felt silly about later just the same. You'll be happy to know I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and got in several more "wheeeees!" before we departed.

Our other adventure involved a hike up a trail described as difficult due to a 500 foot ascent in just over a mile, but there was no word on the "difficult" including "slick with black ice" and "offers no discernible trail markers, or, in fact, anything resembling a trail." Since the area was thick with trees, snows from previous storms still clung icily to the terrain, and as we scrambled we couldn't help noticing a pool of fresh blood seeping into the white. We couldn't help noticing the second one, either. Or the third. David cheerfully supposed that someone had bloodied their nose. Hmmm. When we reached the top of a ridge, we had no clue where the trail might go from there. While we were standing around mulling it over, I noticed some large paw prints in the snow. "Are those bear tracks?" I snapped. David peered at them. "Why, I believe they are. Shall I take a picture?" My only response was "AAAAAHHHH!" as I took off at a clip not at all mindful of a steep slope covered in ice. I ended up making much of the descent in a sort of frog position, sliding my legs out and pushing off with my (thankfully) gloved hands. I have never been so happy to see a busy road. Later we realized that the tracks were, in all likelihood, not bear but mountain lion or bob cat, which wasn't all that reassuring. When questioned at breakfast the next morning, our innkeeper took great delight in regaling us with tales of bears who stroll right through town for a morning dip in the lake, so it's not like my fears were unfounded.

We returned home early Monday afternoon, just in time for our group conference call with Josh, the head of CCAI, who turns out to be quite the card. He made lots of jokes that helped to put us at ease (or me, anyway) and there was a sobering moment only once, when he reminded us that "Gotcha Day," the day we meet our baby, "may be the best one in your life, but for your daughter, it is probably the worst one in hers." He went over everything she has probably been through up to this point, as a way to put in perspective why she might not be jumping for joy to be handed over to two hairy, strange-smelling people who most definitely are not her nannies. I had tears in my eyes when he said "Do your job: feed her, change her, keep her warm, play with her. Very soon she's going to realize you're the best nannies she's ever had." Most of the call was more upbeat, and though there were ostensibly eight couples on the line, none of us said very much. I remembered to ask why the Chongqing Welfare Institute is allowing us to meet our babies at the orphanage, and he responded the way I had hoped--the orphanage is very proud of its facilities and the care the children receive. He did say that in 1993 when he visited the same orphanage, it was hell. He actually used that word. Shudder.

The past two days I've also had a lovely visit with my friend Liz from D.C. (Hi Liz!) She's moving to Switzerland soon, so she flew out to visit various California friends before they go, and got in just under the wire for me! We had a fancy dinner last night, and today she and I had tandem spa packages at a place I love, followed by the most scrumptious, decadent lunch of savory and sweet crepes. All too soon, it was time for her to go. Now I feel inexplicably, dementedly exhausted.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam & David,
Congratulations on getting the actual "meeting Ruo-Ruo/Jarrah" date!
I think I can safely promise you that loving/having/raising her will be the most rewarding, hardest, enjoyable, frustrating, complex, simply wonderful experience you will ever have.
Love, Gail

Mary said...

Hi Sam,

Your trip sounds like it was eventful! You need to ask Paul to tell you the story of a bear in his camp when he was in high school!