We got up at 4am to watch as the ship passed the Statue of Liberty. It was exciting, it was an ending and a beginning for our family as we returned to our native land. We thought about how our ancestors just a few generations ago had entered the US on a similar route from Europe to NYC, though of course with drastically different circumstances. We had left the US from Washington state over a year ago and we had gone through about 25 countries almost entirely by land and sea in that time. We were bound for our old neighborhood and house in Philadelphia, our bills, our friends, our first autumn in two years, a wedding, a crazy election and many other ups and downs in our re-entry. There’s the Statue of Liberty left of center:
We had breakfast, watched the sun get brighter as the ship docked, and loaded up our backpacks for the last time as we exited the cruise ship. We were tired from staying up late the previous night watching a movie starring Fiercely and the teen group, and from getting up so darn early.
We said goodbye to my parents who were headed back to Ohio. We went through customs, which went smoothly, and we got a warm welcome back from the man who checked our passports and heard a bit of our story. Then we waited at a port building for our ride.
To our delight and my happy surprise, we were picked up by none other than the illustrious KJ! She and her daughter came to the port building and loaded up our luggage and we spent a few hours in Manhattan. Little did we know (well some of us knew) that she had planned a surprise welcome back party at her place for that evening. She was keeping us busy so we didn’t get there too early. We had great diner food and walked on the Brooklyn Bridge. A few hours later we were in her living room seeing friends we hadn’t seen for over a year. Friends of the kids were there, and watching them reunite was truly a beautiful moment. Challenges were ahead, and I know this in detail since I am now writing over a month later, but the first day back, overall, was fantastic.