No sooner was I home and settled than I decided to leave again, this time to go home to Milwaukee. Though the thought of getting on what would be the 17th airplane in 23 days made me want to barf all over myself, there was a damn good incentive to pack up one more time and hit the road.
Long before I’d planned to go to South America and then Denver, I’d learned that my mother and late father were being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from SCOPE Midwest, an organization that sends underserved children to summer camp. My brother, Dylan, and I hadn’t planned on going, largely due to our mother’s loud protests, and in small part due to our own busy schedules. But when several family members decided to fly in just for the day to surprise my mom with their support, there was no way we could resist. Our brother, Gabriel, dutifully arranged for us to fly home for the weekend.
I packed up my things once more, left Mona with her favorite Auntie Jenna, and took another red eye flight to Milwaukee. Though I only had a small backpack, Delta forced me to gate-check the bag, since our flight was jam-packed due to the many cancelled flights across Europe in the wake of Iceland’s volcanic disturbances. Somewhere between the jet way and the airplane my bag was lost, and arriving in Milwaukee, I was told by Delta’s Lost Baggage Counter that my bag indeed never existed. Hmmm. On my way to a formal event with no clothing, hearing that the bag I myself had packed and carried, for which I in fact was holding a claim ticket, did not exist was not something I was willing to believe.
Surprising my mom in her own kitchen at 9 in the morning was a pleasure I hope to repeat. Finding a dress, fancy shoes, underwear, and makeup for a formal event in less than two hours is something I hope I will not have the pleasure of repeating.
Attire annoyances notwithstanding, the evening was perfect. My cousin, Joanie, graciously allowed me to raid her closet and after some food and drinks and many hugs and kisses, the group of us piled into limos on our way into downtown Chicago. Though there were several other awards being given that night, nearly everyone who stood on that stage mentioned my mother and father in their speeches. I watched Dylan photograph my mother as she gave her own acceptance speech, and admired his silhouette against a large projection of my mother and father standing together, the very same image tacked up on my fridge at home. I smiled at Gabe, who now follows in my father’s footsteps, knowing that he will be up there himself not very far in the future, with his wife, Erin, standing at his side as she always does. Hearing my mother speak of the importance of their camping work, I did nothing to fight back my tears. I am proud of her, and of my incredible family, and I was proud to show it.
Drinking and subsequent hilarity ensued, and it was only a few hours before I was back on another plane, number 18 this time, headed home for good. As far as I know.
It always feels incredible to turn the key to my door and enter my own space, to be greeted by my sweet, but naughty, dog. This time though, I felt that goodness in excess, knowing that I’d done right by my family, having shown up to support my mother and honor my father.
And then I went for a bike ride with Mona. And I fell. Again. This time the accident had nothing to do with Mona, and this time I actually did let go of her leash. I took a curb too quickly and biffed hard on my right side, mangling my palms and scraping/bruising my shoulder, elbow, hip, and ankle. I had a new and better-fitting helmet on this time, at least. Still, I think it’s official now: my bike-riding privileges should really be taken away. I told my friend and agent, Gordon, that I felt incredibly stupid after this last crash. He replied back that I’m not stupid, just “brave at an unsafe level.”
If being brave at unsafe levels is what keeps me grounded even when travelling to so many places, what keeps me eager to tackle new writing projects even when I don’t really know what I’m doing, what keeps me hopeful about finding love again even after encountering so many unkind and undeserving men, and what keeps me aiming to jump those curbs even when I’m moving way too fast, then so be it. I’ll gladly keep moving too fast, trying too hard, and reaching to high as long as I can write about it later.