We debated a long time whether or not to bring the kids with us on the trip. In our better moments, Julya and I envisioned a journey with no boundaries, and no end point, where we could go where the wind blew us. The last few years of her schooling had left her slightly over-focused, and she was ready to lift her head up and take a look around. As for me, everything in my head seemed used and worn out. New thoughts or ideas had a tough slog to the surface, if they made it at all. For both of us, life was hitting an incredible pace. Months passed like days. And I was getting older. We both felt we needed a year on the road.
Did we want the responsibility of two ten-year-old kids, no matter how well behaved? They were no more demanding than ordinary children, but they insisted on their share of attention and going everywhere we went. When we asked for two booster chairs in restaurants, we drew stares and comments, and we had to explain that both of them did not fit in the same chair. (The truth was, they insisted on separate chairs). If the waitress ignored them order, never-shy Ann made her feelings known.
And God knows the kids did not need another abandonment trauma at their age. Left in a box by their mother who could not care for them, eventually sold at a garage sale for a pittance, the only people they trusted when we found them were each other. Andy used to cry himself to sleep every night. Not anymore.
The last few weeks before we left, when the house was in a complete turmoil, they were little angels. While we argued over what to take and what to leave, what to sell and what to give away, they sat with innocent smiles on their faces as if all was well. They did mention how they would like the opportunity to find out more about who they were and where they came from—more about that later—and we heard them chatting among themselves about where they would like to go—the ocean—and they promised they would not be a bother. Their insecure moments would come later.
We had already placed Flo—a precious black cat who been “special needs” when we got her from the Dumb Friends League—with a friend, and we realized we could not imagine leaving anyone else behind. Besides, the kids would talk to anybody about anything, and we met a lot of interesting people through them.
In the end, we realized the debate had been a formality. The kids were coming along.
Sighting: Julya spotted a middle-aged woman at a gas station in a jeep painted a bright pink and with a large pink breast cancer ribbon on the front, smoking a cigarette.