Okay, last one. I promise. Thank you if you stuck with me throughout the journey. Before we officially close the books on summer vacation 2016, I just want to add a few personal comments:
First, I thank God for perhaps the best family vacation we’ve had. At least the best one recently. Waaaaay better than 2013, which turned into a tour of the medi-clinics of northern Virginia instead of the Washington, D.C. trip we had planned. As you may have gathered, this trip was full of transitions and travel, and every detail worked out. In 2013 our one day of hiking in the Shenandoah mountains was rained out. In 2016, the only real rain we saw was one night during dinner and a bit more while driving one day. I am so thankful that the details all fell into place with no major disasters.
Second, this trip was made better by the family and friends we saw along the way. We picked this destination mainly because we had a new nephew to meet. Little Zigzag* was about two months old while we were there, and it was such a joy to get in some baby snuggle time and to commiserate with the new parents about their lack of sleep and steep learning curve.
I also greatly enjoyed the time I spent on the campus of Princeton University with one of my oldest friends, whom I haven’t seen in many many years. It’s always amazing how old friends can reconnect and instantly remember why you’re still friends and pick up right where you left off. Valerie, I’m only sorry we can’t connect on a more regular basis. Maybe when Princeton decides to let us in, we can be roomies.
Third, a big part of this trip was spent walking in the footsteps of my past. The house we stayed in for the first half of the trip was a mile from the house I spent my adolescence in, in a town and state I could not wait to leave. But three decades later I can see the blessings of growing up in a beautiful house in an affluent and stable environment. Perhaps, unconsciously, growing up in a Victorian house built in 1890 contributed to my love of architectural history and old buildings. I drove by old friends’ houses, past the track where I spent countless hours running in circles, and the small shop where we would buy lollipops after school. I walked along the uneven flagstone sidewalks and relived old moments. I visited the Italian bakeries and bemoaned the fact that there just isn’t anything like them in Texas.
Going back even further, we visited the house in New York where I spent my earliest years. We went to my elementary school and I re-enacted the drama of second grade when Natasha D. pushed me off a rock onto another rock and I fractured my leg. Yes, I knew exactly which rock it was, and being a rock, it was still there unchanged. I relived the summer nights of playing kickball in the street and catching fireflies in the field across from the house.
I revisited the old library of my childhood and found the books that taught me to love reading. They were still there. Oddly enough, those stacks that had seemed so large and intimidating were just regular library shelves now. But the memories are still there, and it’s still a great library.
Finally, I feel like I laid some ghosts to rest. I saw my childhood with fresh eyes, and I saw the good and made peace with the bad. I also had the opportunity to cross something off my bucket list and found that it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. Who knew?
And so, with these final thoughts, I turn my attention to the future. The trip furnished me with several ideas for new writing projects, and I’m steadily working away on one of them. So, I bid adieu to summer. It’s time to
*No, his parents didn’t name him Zigzag, but for reasons known to the family, that has become his immediate and probably lasting nickname.