We arrive in Frankfurt, and make our way slowly to our next gate via Starbucks. The guy at the security checkpoint takes an inordinate amount of time looking through our passports. I glance at the terrorist posters off to my right to see if anyone in our family resembles anyone on the poster and finally ask him if there is a problem. “No” he says, “it is just that you have a lot of stamps and I need to look at each one.” All the years of dragging our boys around flash before my eyes. I picture them when they were knee high with little backpacks on and so excited they don’t sleep for 20 hours, carrying Shad through the airport throwing up all the way from America to Italy, jumping up and down on our bed at four in the morning yelling jet legs! I feel sad for some reason. I’m not sure why.
We finally arrive at our gate and hear an announcement that the plane is overbooked. We’ve been in this situation before and in one glance at each other Sean and I say, “Let’s do it” We sprint to the ticket counter and volunteer to take the 600 euro vouchers for our seats. We wait until the final boarding call and they confirm that the vouchers are ours.
When we get to the hotel they’ve provided and settle in we are exhausted. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we stayed up all night packing. We should be better at this by now. We talk the boys into going to dinner at 6:00 (unheard of in Italy) so we can go to bed early. They reluctantly agree, but when we get to the hotel restaurant Shae has second thoughts. “How embarrassing mom” he says, “they will think we are Americans.” It isn’t the first time I’ve heard this over the years but right now his words hang in the air like water right before a downpour. I bite my lip to keep from pointing out the obvious but useless facts: 1) You have an American passport. 2) In less than 48 hours you will be living among these embarrassing people. 3) You will need to learn to make friends with these strange people or you will be beat up at school.
They should have special passports for third culture kids like ours. Neither an American or Italian passport is sufficient to identify his cultural leanings. I say a silent prayer that he will figure life out as a third culture kid. I pray we haven’t made life too hard on them by our crazy lifestyle. Not feeling like you belong or fit in anywhere isn’t easy at 12 and 14.
In bed that night I decide if the plane is overbooked again I want to stay another night in Germany. I wonder how many times in a row we could do this. I realize it isn’t because of the money, but because I’m apprehensive to enter life on the strange planet. If we did this every night for a year we could earn a million dollars.