Family and Friends

I need to finish writing up last summer’s adventures before a new one begins. I’ve just watched a beautiful sunrise, and that blue sky warns me that summer is coming…
The third trip last summer was a chance to be surrounded by love. Family is something easy to ignore. I was raised as an only child by a father who was actively trying to hide that I was his 6th child. I have a number of brothers and a sister, some of whom I’ve never met. I have exchanged letters with my sister. We look alike.
Sadly, I suspect that most of my siblings have given up on the hope of a close family, or maybe somewhere along the lines we lack the genes necessary for bonding. Whatever the case, when I was a young girl I had a dream experience: I spent a few moments with a brother and felt a connection to him. What would it be like to have that “big brother” in my life? The question stuck, but Dad was plisadanretty adamant that we not be around each other and so it took me years to find him.
When I did find him on the web, the experience was like suddenly closing the loop on an electric circuit. We couldn’t chat enough. I don’t think we can still. We’ve got so many years to catch up on. Dan is more than I ever dreamed he could be: he’s a friend and a brother.
As a present (to him? to me?) his beautiful mother — who has asked me to consider her my step-mother, bless her for the angel she is — gave me the money to go and see him in Pittsburg. As a bonus, I got to go to the first ever get-together of the su

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per-secret writer’s group. I’ve known some of these people since the internet was a new thing, and we met ON the internet. We’ve shared life experiences that are intensely personal, but we’ve never actually been in the same room together until this day.
(I’m the one in the dress…imagine that.)
Our writer’s group was only able to be together for one day, but what a glorious day it was. Imagine your perfect family reunion where everyone loves everyone else, and no one gets drunk and starts yelling. Yeah, it was like that. I cried when it was time to leave, because I knew I would probably never get a chance to hug these folks again. Not everyone could come, and the missing ones were…missed.
The day of the reunion was filled with laughter and talking, amazing food (I was able to try my first canoli!), and more love than my heart knew how to process. I could’ve spent a year on that deck, even with the rain, and not gotten tired.
There were moments when the rain drove us inside Sandy’s beautiful home. I’m not one for architectural names, but I can tell you that my favorite room was (I think) Craftsman style. High ceilings, incredible wood work, dark panelling…it felt like I was dreaming about meeting them, because where else would a super-secret writer’s group meet OTHER than in such an incredible, richly decorated room? And yes, there were cats there. I was in heaven.
Then there was the blessed week with my brother. We drove from Pittsburgh to New York for the reunion, and so he showed me Amish country. It turns out he shares my love of good food, and we spent a day wandering the strip in Pittsburgh, exploring food shops, sampling cheese, and winding up at a Greek pub that I wish I could go back to. It is always so hard to find good baklava!
He even drove me through the heart of the writing world: New York City. My brother is brave. He’s a very good driver. I was overwhelmed by the difference between New York and other major cities. Now, living on this island…I wonder if New York is even on the same planet. There is simply no way to put that whirlwind intensity into words. I would like to go back some day, but I think I would like to stay in the city and let my spirit adjust to the surroundings. Rather like diving without proper equipment. I think the experience gave me the bends.
It was a delight to be around someone who can talk as much as I do, and who truly understands the art of chatter. I’d always thought the skill was beyond men. Now I realize it seems to be a genetic thing. Woe be to anyone in the room who wants to talk once we get started…but fortunately he wife was a sweet, precious, quiet soul. His son put it best one night as he looked from one of us to the other. “This is just…trippy.” I think that was the word he used. It was pretty trippy to me, too. You see, he looks and acts just like MY son. We’ll not get them together, ‘k?
Dan loves guns. He’s good with them. He took me shooting. It turns out I can still shoot. The 357 magnum was a little strong for me, but I liked his carry weapon just fine.  All during our adventures, I found myself thinking how sad it was that I was focused so heavily on working on my fantasy novel, because I was getting some great information for my modern paranormal adventure, Sisterhood.
I can be a little dense sometimes.
If I didn’t mention it in the earlier posts, I had that thought during each of my trips last summer.
I just filed all of that wonderful research away for later, because by this point, Dominion was getting close to done.
So much of this trip was intensely personal, and Dan does hate it when people post personal stuff on the Internet {snicker}, that I will end this post here.
When I left, I cried all of the way back to Washington, the joy and intensity of family having overwhelmed my senses. I’m pretty sure the other folks on the plane thought I was a fountain disguised as an old woman.

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