Monday, October 11, 2004

No matter where you go...

It’s 2:00 am and I’m in the middle of Russia on a train heading from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The darkness outside the sleeper car is deep, broken only by the lights of passing trains heading the other direction. The air in my compartment is getting stale, as the vent on the bottom of the door I've blocked with a blanket; a preventative measure to reduce the chances of robbery (we were told the thieves sometimes gas you through the vents, and then break into the cabin). I’m incredibly far removed from my everyday life, most people’s everyday life for that matter. How does a one-time rowing coach, current Ironman triathlete, and computer programmer end up on an overnight train in the heart of the country formerly known as “the Evil Empire?” Is this really happening, or am I just dreaming? I look over at my sleeping wife and six month old daughter, and think,” if it is a dream, I hope I never wake up.” Ironically, the quote from the cult movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension plays in my head. “No matter where you go, there you are.” I’m surrounded by my own small, familiar sphere of reality, and everything else is different. I’m just waiting to meet a bunch of people, all named John!

Life has changed dramatically this past year. I felt like the clock was ticking as I was pushing up towards 40 and Leanna and I were still without a family. However, I had also just completed Ironman USA, and while the race itself did not cure anything, for me it pointed the way. After more than twelve hours, it was in the final meters of the race when everything came clear to me. I was jogging down the finishing stretch with my nephew Corey’s hand in mine. Amidst the euphoria of completing the greatest mental and physical test of my life, one very definite thought came into my head. Only one thing could make this moment more perfect; running down the finishing shoot with my own child. I didn’t convey this sentiment to anyone for quite a while. I was afraid that my nephew would perceive it as something negative directed towards him, and it’s far from that. I love Corey, but I need to be a father, not just an uncle.

August passed quietly as I recovered from the exertion, and then came time for Leanna and I to once again address the subject of starting a family. I suggested adoption, and she agreed. In fact, she admitted she too had been considering it. After attending a seminar and talking to others about adoption, we hired our home study agency. That was October, 2003.

It’s October 8, 2004. Another train, a high speed I think, comes screaming past us traveling in the opposite direction, probably headed to St. Petersburg. I’m exhausted, hungry, sick to my stomach, a little feverish (I think I’ve got giardia), crammed into a stuffy 6 x 8 ft. cabin on a train 5000 miles away from my home in Rhode Island, and I’ve never been more content.