This trip ended with echoes of how it started.
But this time for different reasons. Once again there was no sleep--and this despite three glasses of cheap wine. After less than four-hours of tissue-thin sleep we stumbled through packing the rest of our belongings and making our way to the airport. There were no almost-missed flights, rather our flight from Austin to Los Angeles arrived 40 minutes early, which meant we had to taxi--at an excruciatingly slow pace--the runway until a gate opened up. It was like Speed except with 100 percent less Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and excitement.
By the time we made it to the terminal, a misty fog blanketed Los Angeles, and kept us trapped in LAX for nearly two hours beyond our departure time. Finally, however, the plane lifted itself above Southern California, above the clouds and toward Sacramento.
This time instead of anxiety I felt relief. I was ready to return to my California home, but I also felt frustration and sadness.
Mostly, however, I felt gratitude. Family provides such insight into who we are--the choices we make, the paths we avoid, the wrongs we aim to right, etc. Which is just part of the reason why it was so important to me that Cory finally get the chance to meet family on my dad's side of the family. Not my father, of course, but at least my aunt and my grandmother.
My beautiful grandmother, who at different times in my life has amazed me, entertained me, angered me, frustrated me and always, always loved me. The senior Miss Rachel and I have had our differences over the years. Arguments and bitter words. But we've also had immeasurable love and I'll never be able to repay the way she took me in at a time I needed her most. I'm so grateful that Cory had the opportunity to meet her; I'm so grateful I've had the chance to see her again.
I'm also so grateful for my aunt--my dad's younger sister--who has always been there for me, too. For as long as I can remember, she's had my back, despite the way certain histories have unfolded. That couldn't have always been easy. I imagine it's still difficult at times. And yet she always makes me feel like family, like I have a slab of something solid in an otherwise cracked and rocky foundation.
I thought of this as Cory and I sat at LAX this morning eating overpriced omelets, parsing the events of the last several days. I wondered how it is possible to have two living biological parents and yet still feel orphaned at times. I wondered what it means to have the unconditional love and support of my adoptive mother, and yet still feel the need to seek out other answers, other chapters to the history book. I wondered at the way people hold on to old angers, to lingering feuds, to decades-old hurts--grasping them so stubbornly until, finally, they fossilize diamond-hard and impenetrable.
I wondered at just what I could do to not be a part of this--to not repeat old mistakes, to not carry on ancient battles. Is there a way to do this, to study the past and yet remain grounded in the present?
The answer may never be clear.