It has been quite a week! Last days in Pittsburgh, packing up our lives again, and transitioning out of the country again to Montreal. I lost my camera-battery-charger, so there will be no photos for this blog post, but I still have plenty to write about.
Our last few days in Pittsburgh were good. The kids and I explored the Three Rivers Arts Festival and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and spent another hot afternoon cozied up in the Carnegie Library, which had become one of our favorite haunts in the city. We said bittersweet goodbyes to our scenic bridges, the Strip District, and of course to my beloved Bikram Yoga.
Being so close to the site, we were able to observe some of the tearing-down of the tent. The "fly-in guys" made their usual appearance - this is a crew of who-knows-how-many tech guys & girls who fly all over the world tearing down and setting up the tents. One of the technicians told me that on Tuesday, they had to work 6am-2pm, and did a mad scramble to get the main poles down before the thunderstorms rolled in - with success! The whole show was loaded up on tractor-trailers and sent off to Montreal.
Tuesday, travel day, was just bizarre. First, the travel & lodging people were unable to get us a late check-out for our apartment - our shuttle to the airport didn't leave till after 4pm, and we had to vacate by 11am. So they got us another apartment for the day! It seemed a little silly beforehand, but I greatly appreciated it as the day went on, a place to just unwind out of the rain, do last bits of laundry and feed the kids.
Greg had to leave early Tuesday morning, because he had a show booked in the Philadelphia area. Although it seems insane, Greg continues to book occasional shows during his weeks off from Cirque. Whenever this happens, it's a good deal of stress, as he has to rehearse all of his old material, haul all of his equipment out of storage, etc. But he's determined to keep doing this, just to exercise those muscles and not lose his ability to do the 1-hour show. Even now he's having a harder time with the traditional juggling skills like beanbags, clubs, devil stick - because he's spent the last two years rolling balls in a cone. So, as much as I roll my eyes about these bookings, I do understand what he's trying to do.
The kids and I didn't go with him, because Cirque did a nifty thing - they chartered a plane for us to Montreal. Apparently this is something they do now and then! though most of the people on tour had never experienced it before. When a plane is chartered, all employees and their families are given free seats. However, they don't reimburse anyone the cost of their own travel. Many of the artists made their own plans anyway, especially those who owned cars. Nevertheless there were 113 people on the flight. ...I expected this experience to be tons of fun, some sort of VIP / party bus kind of trip. But it turned out to be rather ordinary. There really wasn't any difference from a regular international flight, except for seeing more familiar faces. Everyone pretty much kept to themselves and we arrived in Canada uneventfully.
In my little clan, things started to fall apart after that. At the customs desk, the kids all acted rambunctious and badly behaved while the official grilled me - why was I traveling without the kids' father? If he's working here, where is he and where's his work authorization? Did I have a letter, signed by him, authorizing me to take the kids out of the country? ....all rather difficult, but we did get through it.
The shuttle bus on the way home took forever, stopping at a number of other places. We were the last stop. Baz and Isa had fallen sound asleep by that time. When we arrived at the second-to-last stop (around 10:45pm), I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to call the apartment to get someone to let us in. I got a little panicked, and I saw one of our travel & lodging staffers outside the window, helping with another building. I told the bus driver I had to ask her a question, I'd be back in a minute, and I jumped off the bus and ran in the building to ask her what to do.
When I came back outside a couple of minutes later, the bus was gone.
....Oh, it was one of those moments. If you are a parent, you have probably had moments like this, when your world starts spinning in an absolute panic. The children are gone. You have done something stupid and turned your back at the wrong moment, and the children are gone and the longest minutes of your life ensue.
It couldn't have been more than five minutes. Maybe ten at the outside. I don't even know what I was doing - running to Joann, running to other Cirque friends, pacing around the street, telling myself it would all be OK.... and then the bus driver circled back from where-ever the hell he had gone with a bus containing no adults, only my three tiny children, and I scrambled onto the bus, finally breathing again, trying to communicate in broken French. I never did figure out where he had gone or what he was thinking. My belief in his good character was further shattered when he dropped us off outside our building - by that time Isa had woken up and was screaming at the top of her lungs - with all our suitcases, in front of a locked door, late at night, and he left us there.
Our very nice property manager, Adam, thankfully appeared only a few minutes later, helped us with our suitcases and got us into the apartment. Once the kids were safely tucked into their beds I could finally catch my breath, and begin to look around.
We've got a great place here in Montreal. What a location! A block from Notre-Dame Cathedral, about two blocks from the waterfront. We're on the 9th floor... from my bedroom window I can see the cathedral and the river and the science museum. And it's a 3-bedroom apartment, spacious, comfortable. I'll be sure to post a video soon.
The only thing I'm really not excited about so far is the swimming pool. It's a "rooftop" pool, which sounds awesome - but it's an indoor pool. What's more, it's a small, cold, deep indoor pool, with no comfortable chairs around it. The kids are all in over their heads, and I am not at all interested in getting in with them. I think we'll be buying some floatation devices just to keep them occupied.
We've walked around the Old Port a little bit, and I am thrilled to be back here. I forgot how much I enjoyed this city. I love speaking French. I love the street performers and the shops and the fountains. We're going to have a great time here!
To kick off a new summer activity, I took Baz today to his first karate class! We found a studio here, and his friend Yahor is also taking the class. They are very excited about it, and Nastya and I are happy to have found something like this for them. They can go to class as often as 3 times per week, if we can organize ourselves. ...and for me, I'm enjoying having the time hanging out with Nastya. Today was Russian day, and we talked all afternoon. Admittedly, on Russian day she does a lot more of the talking. But my comprehension is really improving! I can understand so much more now. Even if my speaking is still at baby-level, I can definitely see progress.
Getting through the week here.... Greg comes up on Saturday evening, only two more days with just me and the kids. The hardest part for me is not having an hour free to get out for exercise, even at 6am. (it keeps me sane!!) But I can do this, just a couple more days.