News from Lisbon Portugal

To begin my story, I will once again share that I believe God has a hand in our lives. I have been praying for my son to stay safe and for God to get him where he needs to be. His plans for this trip have not been smooth sailing, but my feeling is – at least he is in Europe! All of our experiences help us to learn and grow. At his point he was supposed to be in Italy. I guess he is where is supposed to be now. Any way, being in Paris, he was trying to find a flight out to a couple of different places where he was planning on visiting. He ended up with a flight to Lisbon (noted in my last post), where he intended to stay at a friend’s house. He booked the flight and planned on leaving his hotel at 11 a.m. to catch his 5 p.m. flight.

Now, this kid is harder to wake up than a Koala on Ambien. This day however, he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. alert and ready to go. He decides to begin his day and heads out to the train station at 9 a.m. (two hours earlier than planned) to get to the airport. He gets to the train station to find a bit of a commotion. He isn’t sure what is going on because no one is speaking English. This part of Paris is lacking in English speaking people. As my son, Alex, puts it “out of nowhere” a little old lady comes up to him speaking in French. He says, “Sorry only English.” She begins speaking to him in English explaining that the trains are delayed due to somebody putting iron on the tracks or something. Without him saying anything or asking for help, she begins to tell him what he needs to do, what trains he needs to take, to get to the airport on time. Even my son, who doesn’t believe that God intervenes in our lives, says what happened was rather strange. Had he not come two hours earlier than planned, and had this woman not helped him, he would have missed his plane.

This lady gets him all situated and begins to talk to him about photography. My son is very into photography so he’s excited to look at her photos. Then she tells him she has 40,000 of them and proceeds to show them to him, including photos of her grandkids. 40,000 photos – WOW, I thought I had a lot of pictures!!! Luckily he had a train to catch! My lovely boy says “Mom, she talked more than you!” Heeeey, I resemble that remark! I always love hearing that. Well, the truth is the truth. As you can tell from my blog, I love to “talk.” I’m chattier than a romp of giant river otters! What can I say, I have an extremely high level of the protein Foxp2 (a verbal communication inducing protein). I just love communicating!

So, ADHD…(cough cough), Alex, gets on a plane to Portugal. Did I mention he studied Portuguese (as well as Italian) in college. He sat next to a Portuguese couple who couldn’t speak English, but he was able to have somewhat of a conversation with them. They thought he was so funny. They shared that they didn’t think English people (he thinks they meant from England) were funny at all, but that he was very funny. They also told him that now they like Americans because they met him! Lol. They were very concerned that he would make it to where he needed to be. They asked him how he was going to get to his friends – would he be able to contact him. He told them he would find some internet and be in touch with him that way. They insisted he use their phone to call his friend. Again, I think God placed the right people at the right time for him to get to his destination. Alex, who adores Italy, thinks that Portugal may be even friendlier than Italy (although Italy is still number one with him). They don’t just help you by telling you, they help you by actually doing things for you.

He called his friend only to find that, unfortunately, his friend’s grandmother had passed away and he was not home. Now Alex had to find somewhere to stay. After perusing booking.com, he searched the internet to see what he could find something clean that was a little less expensive. He found a website called airbnb.com. and ended up in a city called Chiado. At airbnb.com, people from around the world welcome you into their home and rent a room in their home. He really likes it. The cost is low ($30), the people are friendly, the place is clean. Plus, if you refer someone and they stay somewhere you will get $25.00. If you get someone to sign up to host guests/renters, you get $75.00! His friend is expected to return tonight, so he will spend the next two days in Portugal. His next task is to find a flight to either Milan or Florence. HIs friends in Italy are anxiously awaiting his arrival. Bring on the next adventure!

Wander Vicariously – Europe Here I Come!

Since I am unable at this time to visit Europe. I am living vicariously through the adventurous free spirit of my son! He flew to Paris on Sunday. My very generous friend let him use one of her passes to go. Even though he is 21 years old, as his mother I cannot help, but worry about him. A natural instinct that I need to curb, using various techniques. I focus on the fact that I am not in control of what happens, and pray!

We drove 3 hours through the first storm of this winter season and I dropped him off at 3:00 p.m for his 5:15 flight. I get a call from him about an hour later saying his flight has been delayed until 8:30 p.m. due to technical difficulties. Yikes. Then a call…departing at 9:30 p.m. Then a text at 9:30 p.m…I am boarding the plane. No more texts. I go on this fantastic website that allows you to track a flight (stalk much?!). 10:00 sitting at the gate waiting departure…10:30…11:00…A bit after 11:00 p.m. the flight finally takes off. Throughout the night (yes, I did sleep a little) I watch this little picture of a plane move across the Atlantic. Destination France. I see the plane lands safely just after 6 a.m. our time.

Due to this delay, my son misses his flight from Paris to Italy. Why not a straight flight to Italy? For whatever reason, the price difference to fly into Italy from the U.S. is substantial, especially for a college student. Even though he has a pass, there are still fees attached. Then begins the race to find a new last minute flight that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Google has a flights page that gives you every flight there is and the price! It makes it very simple to see your choices. Even with google, he can’t find a doable fair. He has to wait until the next day to fly out. Hotel time. I will tell you, Booking.com is a great source to find a hotel on the cheap! You can find just about anything from a hostel to a five star hotel. it is very descriptive and has so many reviews. You can find whatever suits your needs!

Okay, so enough of the commercial for Booking.com. He finds a hotel for $65 and tells me about a $72 flight to Lisbon that he needs to book by midnight. He has a friend there. Italy is just to expensive last minute. I receive a text that his card won’t work, asking me to try and get it for him…then nothing! I don’t hear from him again. What?! I’m left hanging. I begin to worry again and decide, there is no point. He is 21 years old and can take care of himself. Still, I bought an international plan for him to be able to use his phone to text. Common courtesy would dictate to let me know what happened! I mean, hasn’t he seen the movie “Taken?” I would like an itinerary! Where are you at all times! Slap…oh boy, wait. Get ahold of yourself, Wendy! I know people would agree, he should let me know where he is. Fact of the matter is, you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face about the way you would like things handled, but you can’t change anyone or force them to do things your way. You can only control your reaction to a situation. I choose to chill out and know he will contact me when he can.

Wait – I can’t help myself! I e-mail the hotel where he is staying asking them if he has checked in!!! They probably read it and said “Crazy American!” Click – trash. Either way, I wake up at 6 a.m. to a text saying he’s okay and catching a flight to Lisbon at 10 a.m. my time. What fun! Crazy, but fun! Life can be so exciting if we want it to be. I know some would say the way we do things is crazy. He really doesn’t have the resources to be doing what he’s doing, but he did it! At 21 I was working three jobs. i would never have dreamed of leaving the country. I was so responsible and so set on taking care of my mother that I never thought of traveling. It’s funny how we get stuck in our lives, set in our ways, never thinking that there is more out there that we can be a part of. Well, I know now. And while I am still responsible and I still have the overwhelming need to take care of others needs above my own, I at least know now that it is possible. I know you can’t just do whatever you want when you want, but when the opportunity arises, I am outta here! Take the golden ring whenever you can. Life is short! Live it and live it well!!! I recently had a friend say they wanted to go to New York because their son’s school band is playing at Carnegie Hall. Her husband responded, “Wait, can we afford that?” I said, “The question is, can you afford not to?! (I know, a bit cliche, but still true). 🙂

Moving to Champaign

Moving backward, I will begin with my most recent adventure…Champaign. When we returned from Europe in Early August, I returned to taking care of my brother. We are from a southwest suburb of Chicago. We had to find a new place to live by October 1st because that is when his lease was up. I began to look for homes that would have a walk-in shower that would accommodate his shower chair. We couldn’t stay in the home he was in – not enough room for all of us, and no walk-in shower.

I tried to find a place in the suburbs of Chicago. We needed a place that had a room on the first floor with a walk-in shower. We needed three other bedrooms, plus it had to take pets, and of course we had a budget. It seemed like everywhere I looked, one thing would be missing. If it had a shower, it would only have two bedrooms, and on and on. If it had everything, it was out of our price range.

Before we left for Europe I had discussed moving to Champaign. My oldest son goes to college there and I thought he might be able to help me care for my brother if needed. I checked it out and found two places that would work for us. They were put on the back burner while we went on our trip. When we returned, I continued my search, but contacted the places in Champaign. They were still available. Everyone kept asking, “Where are you going to live?” I would respond, “I’m not sure, maybe Champaign, but I’m still looking around here.” The final week of September I applied to for one of the homes in Champaign. On the Friday before we moved I received the answer that it was available and we could move in on Tuesday.

I started packing over the weekend. Let me tell you, I seriously got rid of two 20 foot box trucks full of stuff prior to leaving for Europe. I could not believe how much stuff was still left. I didn’t want to ask anyone to help because I have moved so many times, I just couldn’t ask again. Luckily, my friend and her husband knew I couldn’t do it alone. I’ve know my friend all of her life (she’s a bit younger than I). She sent her husband, Jim, over to my house on Monday to help me start packing. THANK GOD is all I can say. If it weren’t for her insistence and just sending him over and then coming herself to help, I would have never gotten everything out. What a fiasco.

It’s funny how we think we can do things on our own. If you’re like me, I don’t like asking for help because I don’t want to put anyone out. The move wasn’t over yet. There were still items in three different places being stored. I told my friend, “I can do it myself.” Again – I was wrong. Thank God Jim knew better and came to help me. I thought we were both going to melt and disappear into a puddle of water….Exhaustion isn’t even the word…

Needless to say, we finally made it here. It’s so peaceful. Our home is beautiful. No clutter – which I completely LOVE. I will try to post some photos. I wrote this in October and put it into drafts. My how time flies. It’s already Christmas! Our first in our new home! Probably our only Christmas. I’m expecting to move again. Spin the wheel to see where!!!!!