Dallas is home. He got back Saturday afternoon.
His plane was, by some miracle, actually on time. I got to see it land. Standing at one of the huge windows in the sparkly new international terminal at the Atlanta airport, I watched: Delta, Delta, AirTran, Delta, Delta, Delta, Delta, American Airlines, Delta, Delta, OH MY GOD IS THAT AN AIR FRANCE PLANE, YES IT IS, THAT’S HIS PLANE! As it landed, my phone buzzed in my pocket. Dallas was texting me to say his plane had landed. I texted him back to let him know I saw the plane land and had taken a picture of it, at which point he called me a creeper, but it had the little smiley face with the tongue out after it so I knew he was kidding.
We kept things pretty low-key all weekend. His request for his first meal back in America was Mexican, so we went over to Fort Valley and beat the dinner crowd at Tapatio. (I had asked him before he left Germany if he wanted to hit up the Varsity’s international terminal location for his first American meal in seven months, and he sent me back a picture of his middle finger. Guess that answered that.) He had gotten a little sleep on his flight from Paris to Atlanta (by the time he landed in Atlanta, he’d been traveling for about 22 hours, so I’m glad he wasn’t awake the whole time), so he was good company through dinner and while he unpacked his suitcase to show us some of the various things he’d accumulated in Europe: coins and bills from Romania and the Eurozone, the invitation he received to go to an Independence Day party at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Romania (so fancy it’s got his first, middle, and last names on it), textbooks and other educational materials from all of his language courses, pictures he had taken but not sent to us.
On Sunday we took his mom to the grocery store and then took advantage of the beautiful weather to go birding. Since it was so nice out, our usual birding spot was full of people on bicycles, people with dogs, and runners…plus my camera died, so it ended up just being a good walk. Yesterday we ran some errands and spent a good bit of the morning at the Museum of Aviation. My grandparents’ 80-year-old next-door neighbor Charlie was in the Air Force and was stationed at Robins back in the 1950s/1960s, which we didn’t know until Meem told him where I live now. So while Dallas is home, we wanted to get some pictures of planes and exhibits at the museum, and we might get some pictures of town in general, to print out, put in an album, and send up to him so he can see how much things have changed. After the museum, we grabbed lunch at Momma G’s because Dallas really missed it while he was in Europe.
As of yesterday, Dallas and I have been engaged for a year. We’ve spent a little over half of that time apart, so here’s hoping the three and a half months he’ll be gone once he goes back to finish out his school year in Germany is the last big separation we have to endure. He’s a finalist for a Fulbright fellowship, which would send him to Romania for a year, but he has applied for a couple other fellowships that I think he’d prefer because they’d keep him in the United States, so here’s hoping he kind of has his pick. Worst-case scenario (well, I think the Fulbright is worst-case for so many reasons, but it would be a big deal, career-wise, for him), we move back to Michigan and he teaches for another year. We’d be closer to my family if that happened, but Michigan winters are hard on a Southern man.
He’ll be here until March 30th. I hope saying goodbye won’t be so hard this time (when we put him on the plane in July, we weren’t sure if it would be financially feasible for him to come home on his semester break, so we were expecting it could be 11-12 months before we would see him in person again), but I’m already kind of dreading it. But he’s here now, and that makes it hard to dwell on something that far away. It’s really nice not having to worry that he doesn’t have anything to eat, or that he hasn’t had time to do laundry, or he isn’t sleeping well, or that he’s feeling a bit depressed but doesn’t want to talk to me about it because he knows I’ll worry (because when he’s home it’s a lot easier to tell than it is talking to him over Skype or Facebook chat). Dallas being home has been the best thing for my peace of mind. It’s amazing what a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders, simply because he’s home.