The International terminal at Logan was jammed. It was a surreal experience sitting there, eating stromboli and already feeling like a stranger in a strange land. I haven’t written yet about the journey, or indeed about our first 30 hours in Oxford, because I haven’t been exactly sure what to say. At first I was a bit too jet-lagged (I have promised myself never to publish anything when not fully in control of my faculties). Then I was afraid it would be too negative. Yes, it’s been like that. I felt I should wait for Inspiration & Encouragement to come before attempting to write about, or even realize, how I feel. And in this, my hour of need, I remember someone with just that inspiration to offer. I know an eye doctor from Wheaton, IL, who asks, every time he sees us, “What are you thankful for?” Let me tell you about our journey with that motif.
British Airways gave us a seat for Norah. Those of you that have traveled with infants and toddlers know what that means. For the rest of you, the deal is, children under 2 fly free, so you buy a seat for you and hold the heavy, squirming, possibly wet and/or poopy little mini-passenger in your arms for two, three, six hours–however long the flight lasts. It also means, if they are like Norah, they don’t sleep because they aren’t tied down and can’t get comfortable. Travel-savvy parents bring a carseat anyways, and hope for a nearby empty seat to which to strap their child. (We figured this out on Norah’s 9th flight–we are NOT travel-savvy parents). But we had it this time, Norah’s 12th and longest, and British Airways could not have been sweeter.
Norah and the T.V. One of my favorite moments on the overnight ride came at about 10 pm. Norah (window seat) wouldn’t sleep, but Mommy (aisle seat) wanted to try and doze a bit before dinner service. Suddenly Alex (in the middle, bless him) leans over and says, “She’ll be quiet now, I taught her to turn the TV on and off.” Surely enough, Norah is sitting there, staring at the screen on the back of the seat in front of her and turning it on, off, on, off, on, off… It held her until she fell asleep.
We were welcomed by friends. It was a long, exhausting haul to get our bags and get out of the terminal at Heathrow. When we had been out the doors for about a minute, we saw a friendly face. Alex’s friend Chris, from Wheaton grad school, was there to meet us. He helped with our bags, waited with Norah and I while Alex went to recover the stroller (they took it away on the way out and so we didn’t have it at Heathrow and nearly forgot to pick it up again), and got us into the correct bus to Oxford and then taxi to our door. On the way to our place, another Wheaton grad school friend, Dave, showed up with a bag of groceries. May blessings be showered upon their heads! Not only that, but realizing we had no phone and no internet, Dave came back later with a phone for us and an ethernet cable so we could get online and let our families know we made it. I am using said cable at this moment, and blessing his head again.
Circadian rhythms. The time change from Boston is 5 hours. When we arrived, everyone here was on their way to work. For us, it was three in the morning. Norah slept a little more than 3 hours on the plane, and snatched another 25 minutes on the bus. She had an afternoon nap of about two hours in the new place, and went to bed on time. She did wake up screaming around 8:30 our time, and then, thinking it was mid-afternoon, wanted to stay up and play. We kept her up for about two hours, then put her to bed again. That time, she stayed put until 9:10 this morning! We did hear her in there singing songs and talking to herself for a bit before slumber, but then she slept “like a baby.” And so did we.
First Impressions: Oxford town is beautiful. In passing, and in our two excursions so far, what I have seen of it is even more charming than I imagined–more posts on that soon. I don’t have enough Inspiration & Encouragement to describe our place yet. But I can say, gratefully, there are big and sunny windows, the refrigerator is bigger than I thought (about 1/2 the size of a standard US one, not a college fridge), the door locks, and we have a balcony over the backyard. These are the good things. After he (rather apologetically) let us in and gave us the tour, I told the super (on faith, and to his evident surprise) that it was lovely. And it will be. Alex thinks I should post a “Before” video for you all on YouTube. We’ll see.
It hasn’t all been quite quite. But I hang on to this:
In your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:16)
It’s all meant to be.
And nothing is bewildering to God.
And I am blessed.