We arrived at exactly 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Well, actually 3:03 p.m. Jim and I had been texting:“We are on the road!”
“How’s it going?”
“Where are you?” – this last one came in at 3:01 p.m.
“Pulling into your driveway,” was the last text of the day. We were here. The plan was in motion. I’ll admit we looked
a little weird along the way. We were in our fully loaded new Dodge Ram with a kiln sticking up into the air like a rocketship ready to launch. It has a winch at the top, so I can only imagine what people were saying about us as we drove down the road with my 1960’s Samsonite luggage bungie corded to the top of the mobile pottery studio. Smokey, my little angel of a dog, had ridden peacefully in my lap on top of pillows and blankets. We had only stopped a few times, and when we got there it was hard to unwind the three of us from our perches in the front of the truck.
Jim came out of the house with a baby on one hip and another running towards us. We had gotten lucky and had no rain predicted for our trip, and we checked the weather to see if we could wait until Sunday to unload the truck. As much as I had planned, so had he. His crew would be there at 6:45 Sunday morning, and he felt it would be best if it were HIS crew that had to unload the truck. Since I had seen first hand the efficiency of our own fire house’s ability to load it up, the only concern I had was that the kiln would get wet if it rained, and I had forgotten a tarp to cover it that Saturday night, but no rain was expected so we were able to relax and get a tour of his new home, and finally, be together.
Sherine had been helping her sister at a garage sale, and wasn’t home when we arrived. She and I had had little communication during the planning of the trip, but through Jim, I knew she was excited for us to get to spend time with them. We had had so much fun in December, and as our relationship was fairly new, this was the best place for us to get to know each other better: in her home. These kids had been through so much since my sister passed away, and we were all on completely “new” ground. They had bought a home and moved to Biloxi, out of Wiggins where they had both grown up. And their home is beautiful. “Enough room for all of us,” she had told me. It’s funny how things stand out: all I could hear was “us” in that statement. I’m part of a bigger “us” than I had realized and this strong, beautiful young family wanted me and Todd to be part of “us.” Makes this little old lady Aunty Amy proud. And happy. If I could have bottled how I felt that day, it would have been enough for me. I had babies crawling over me, explaining God knows what in a language I would come to learn. We were treated to a “homecoming” in which none of us could predict the outcome.
We went out to dinner at the Sushi Bar they preferred. Todd and I love sushi, so as far as we could tell, we were going to get along just fine. The youngest, Dawson, was in heaven as the hibachi grill was lit up and set into flames. Daylen, the middle child, not so much. Ironically he hid behind his mama as the grill burst into flames. “He’s NOT our fireman,” was his mother’s explanation. Dawson was ready to do it again, and we all settled into our dinners. Every moment, I am learning more and more about this little family. They are so close. We have so little in common. I am worried a bit that Todd may not be comfortable with three youngsters for an entire week. Todd and I are so quiet – we don’t have children, grand children or anyone else in our home on a regular basis. It’s just the two of us.There’s a story there, as well, but just refer to Chapter two and you’ll be able to figure a lot of it out. Yes, we wanted children, and no, we don’t have any. When there are only two people in a household, you tend to take for granted quiet solitude, and we both had a feeling this week was not about quiet solitude. It just wasn’t.
However, what it was was way more natural than we could have ever predicted. Jim, Todd and I went to “work” every day. We had a schedule and we were sticking to it. As much as we were there though, I wanted so much more family time. It made our conversations about our next visit come naturally. Yes, we are coming back. Yes, we want you in our lives. Yes. Yes. Yes. Being home now, I’m able to process this part of the visit a bit better than while we were there, or even when they were here in December. I miss these kids so much!
In one of our conversations before our arrival, Jim admitted to me that he had an ulterior motive for this trip. “We Want you to fall in love with it here and move here.” Seriously? You want me? Isn’t there a better option? Bless your baby heart.
As I said earlier, when you have been through what we have been through as a family, it is very hard to stick to small talk. We spent the entire week planning our futures together. When it was time to leave, Jim had had part of his wish granted: I was in love. And I’ll be honest, I cried halfway through Alabama leaving those kids – all of them – behind. I am definitely in love. But I love home, too. How can someone be this rich?