Saturday, August 3, 2013

Kate Miller 33: Home Again

The return to "real" life can always be a little jarring... 

33. Home Again (May 2013)

saying goodbye to the beach
            Their last morning in Prince Edward Island, Kate and the rest of the crew headed down one last time, to “say goodbye to the beach.” This was a tradition in Kelsey’s family, and Kate thought it fun and worthy of adopting whenever possible. The nature of the goodbye depended on the age of the traveler. Kate walked down the beach a way, looking at the red dirt cliffs and cute cottages. Young Kate also tromped down the beach, but not to look at the scenery. She was endeavoring to match footprints and stride with some earlier (and much larger) walker. Rose made a sandcastle. James Jr. ate sand.
            The goodbyes having been duly accomplished, they returned to the cottage and all three children “said goodbye” to the bathtub with much merriment and splashing. Kate made piles of things in the entry to be secured in the car, and packed up food from refrigerator and cupboards. They all ate a hasty lunch, put the sleepy children in their car seats, and set out for another very long drive. Kate was glad that she could spend the afternoon seeing the island geography, which had been obscured by darkness (and sleep) on the way up. It was rural, but not in the same unkempt, wild way that Alaska was. The island was beautiful and calming with its red roads and gently rolling hills and lines of evergreens dividing multi-colored farm plots.
red roads and cottages
            They arrived in Boston in the early hours of the morning, and after a few hours of wonderful coziness on what was once again “the most comfortable bed she had ever touched” Kate was up sorting out Miller belongings from the Wills’ and eating oatmeal pancakes. Kate hated to leave so quickly. It would have been perfect to spend a day or two in Boston to help Kelsey pack up for their trip home to Oregon, and to wind up a wonderful vacation. But Mister was starting a conference the next day, so it was important to get back to Virginia. So she sorted and packed and ate and thought about the coming week, wondering what she was forgetting, and feeling a little like a hamster running in his little ball…downhill.
            But after another nine hours of driving, Kate felt a little calmer and ready to take the coming days one at a time. They pulled up in the favorite of their two parking spots, got out, and went inside. Everything was still and quiet. Kate smelled the same familiar house scent that she had smelled when they first stepped into the place nearly two years before. She sighed. After two weeks of visiting and driving all over creation, home felt good. Mister set his keys and water bottle down on the small table by the door and put his arms around his wife’s shoulders. He held her close, then gave her a kiss and said with a smile, “It’s good to be home with you.”
            Since it was still early in the evening, Kate started to unpack their bag. She pulled out business cards or gifts they had been given back at Hillsdale, and Kate shook her head. It seemed so long ago that they had been there!
            “Can you believe all that’s happened since we left?”
            “Hmm?” Mister murmured, preoccupied with a mountain of mail.
            “So much has happened!” she repeated. “All the people we’ve seen, the places we’ve gone to, the number of states we’ve driven through!”
            Mister looked up and thought for a moment. “It’s been a very full trip. And very fun. But it’s nice to be home too. And now I have to get ready for this conference tomorrow.”
            Kate grimaced. “When does it start? Do you have a schedule?”
            Mister rummaged around. “This was in the mail,” he opened a pamphlet. “Oh wow. It looks busy. Except for tomorrow, it looks like it will probably be around 8AM to 9PM…ish.”
            Kate nodded, she wasn’t happy about it, but she understood. Their wonderful vacation was over for now. The hamster ball was rolling, the momentum was rising, and pretty soon she’d have to start running again. 

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