Since this trip was more complicated than any vacation should be, I am going to sum it up twice.
The trip was fantastic. I spent two days on a beach overlooking Haystack Rock in Oregon, a day in the city, and several lazy days in a sleepy little town outside of Seattle. I didn’t have a parka but I got a sporty little jacket that, until I move, I am sure I will not wear again. (Which, I believe, was actually left on the floor of ZH’s car.) I met some really cool people including (but not limited to):
1. A girl who might well be the owner of the OTHER part of the brain I share with Spliff (I do realize that if we split this up into any more pieces, we may all be in trouble…but seriously, this girl might as well be me.) She told me a story about kicking someone in the mouth over nachos. Yeah, that’s right, she’s hard core. (Not really, she is a sweetie.)
2. A guy who is very competitive and got into an argument once with a guy who said his head was harder. He then preceded to hit himself in the head with a rubber mallet and bleed all over everything. But he redeemed himself by supergluing the gaping hole back together and continuing to party. I saw the pictures. Rockin’.
3. ZH’s very sweet mother who speaks softly and calmly even when discussing what action should be taken with my uterus. (She merely suggested that another granddaughter would be delightful, mind you, but whoa…)
The scenery was astonishing. The difference between the Oregon coast and the Florida coast is vast and seemed like a different planet altogether. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the park where I took all of the amazing pictures but…whatever…
Seattle was all that I expected it to be. Soggy, gray, and full of coffee and interesting things to see. Obviously, even despite the lack of sunshine, I fell in love with it. All of it. The farmers market, the EMP, the breath taking view from the Space Needle. I even braved the chill at the front of the ferry into the city to take pictures. Yeah, that’s right, I was cold. Voluntarily. It was truly a growing experience.
ZH’s daughter (Zebra Kid) was a delight even when she was jumping on the bed at 8am wanting to play “the horsey game” and I didn’t even mind playing house for the few days that we had her. Of course, there are always the people who say things like, “Oh, honey, you look just like your mommy.” To which my reaction is usually a glance over each shoulder and then a defensive response like, “Oh, no! She’s not…Um…I’m not…Her mom’s not here.” (Which is usually followed by an uncomfortable silence between said person and myself.)
Okay, now for part two.
On the sentimental tip:
Saturday morning started with too much coffee and too many cigarettes. When Pookie finally arrived (after breaking her coffee pot and begging me to make a second pot so that she wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel), I was already down to my last fingernail (and I don’t even bite my nails). My stomach was turning and my mind was racing and I could barely form a sentence. But once airborne and engrossed in my book, I started to forget about the insanity of the situation. Until my plane landed in Seattle. That’s when things got tricky. Part of me wanted to push everyone out of the aisle and dart out of the plane, but the other part of me wanted to curl up in the fetal position and stow myself in the overhead bin.
Being that I hadn’t seen ZH since the infamous letter situation, I wasn’t entirely sure that my reaction to seeing him would be smooth or appropriate. I called him from the gate as I stepped out of the corridor and hoped that I had a few minutes to gain my composure before we found each other. Turns out, I had about 45 seconds. I ducked into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face when we hung up and braced myself for the impact.
Things went as smoothly as I could have imagined. He immediately swept me up and wrapped himself around me but it was the kind of embrace that left me stunned. Not completely comfortable but not completely foreign.
We had lunch before he took me to meet his mom and greet Zebra Kid, which gave us an opportunity to try and relax. My stomach was in knots and lunch wasn’t an option. He laughed at my birdlike appetite and gave me a hard time about how much I was going to cost him if my lunch was so expensive. It lightened the mood but still left me feeling awkward and uneasy.
By the next morning, though, as we were leaving for Oregon, things were just as they should be. Our fingers remained intertwined for the entire drive. We reminisced and we talked about the distinct possibility of our own insanity. But we were comfortable. We fit perfectly into each others essences and we laughed more than we had in ages.
Needless to say, if I had to write the letter over again, I would.
And by the last day, after taking ZK to paint pottery, and meeting 27 of his closest friends, and moments of complete and utter terror on my part, I felt like I was home. And I realized that it doesn’t really matter to me where home is, just that he is there. (And yes, that does sound too much like a line from a sappy love story. Shut up. I do what I want.) But then there was the part where I walked away from him and ZK and came home to my regular life.
This was the most heart wrenching part. A moment that didn’t seem like a moment at all, but an eternity. When I let go of ZH’s hand long enough to kneel to say my goodbyes to ZK, I saw that she had started to tear up. She looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “But…I will miss you. Are you coming back next weekend?” And I hugged her tight and stood. I would have been alright if I hadn’t looked at ZH next. I would have made it on to the plane with a dry face, but I made the mistake of looking directly into his face. And I realized that ZK wasn’t the only one tearing up. I managed not to start crying until they were out of sight. Even with ZK waving back at me with the sad eyes and the pouty pink lip. Even seeing that ZH’s long, confident stroll had turned into a slow, slumped one.
But once they were out of sight, the waterworks started and didn’t completely stop until I reached Houston. Where I sat at a bar, drank beers, and watched enough of the Superbowl to know that I never want to watch the Superbowl.
And now, I am home. And I use the term “home” loosely.