It was late at night. Pitch black. It felt like we had been driving for hours. "Are you sure this is the right way," I asked. My best friend from high school shrugged. We passed mile marker 18 - whatever that meant. There was no question. We were lost.
Now this was in the day before cell phones (and yes I know how much I just dated myself with that sentence) but luckily Katy's dad's car had a phone installed in the console. We pulled over on to the tree lined shoulder and called for help. On the other end of the line my father yelled at us, completely confounded. How can you get lost on the Blue Ridge Parkway??? There are only two ways to go: North or South. North you stay in Virginia. South you go to North Carolina. You want Virginia, Jenny. He hung up the phone.
As I stared out my darkened window on the airplane the above scene played itself over and over again in my mind. I shifted my focus to the screen on the back of the seat in front of me.
Realistically, I knew China was far. On the other side of the world to be exact. Our trip here had taken just as long, but this time was different. On the way over I was excited. On the way over people peppered us with questions of "what brings you to Beijing?" wherein we would launch into our tale of international adoption. But this time? This time I had a groggy, cranky, toddler beside me for whom I was still effectively "stranger danger." To help with our bonding process my husband left me to sit with our new son. If our son needed comfort during our trip, I would supply it. The first three hours went okay. There were snacks, then meals, and an interactive TV with children's games. We had already played with the Leap Frog, his trains set, his coloring books, and his blocks. And we still had 11 hours to go.
The man across the aisle from me gave me the thumbs up. He had been on our plane from Guangzhou that morning. An 8:00 AM flight from Guangzhou followed by 7 hours in the Beijing airport followed by a 14 hour flight home. I studied the map again. The hovering white airplane mocked me from a sea of bright blue. How could we still have 11 hours to go?
Eventually our son fell asleep. Eventually I watched all four offered movies. And eventually that little white plan hovered over Virginia. We began our descent into Washington D.C. I woke my son and pulled him onto my lap, eager for him to see America for the first time. Down below I swear I could see the faint line of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then again, I've never been very good with maps.