Though I’m not exactly the black sheep of my family, I’ve certainly not followed the path they might have imagined for me. I don’t have kids. I’m the token rainbow-flag waver. I didn’t follow a typical upward career path. Instead, I juggle self-employment and find ways to travel and explore the world–both outer and inner. Sometimes it seems as if it’s my job to carry on the adventuring gene while everyone else in my clan does the right and responsible things.
When my brother had kids, I was kind of baffled about how to be an aunt. Over the years, I’ve made time to get to know these two amazing young women on their own terms. L is practical, wickedly funny, and a master negotiator. O is smart, vividly imaginative, and an old soul. They’re so different, and I love them so much–even though we only see each other every summer.
Last December, I gave the girls a Christmas present. It was one of three hints leading up to an activity we’re doing together this fall. Although they have no idea what this activity is (their current guess is Mars), the USPS has bridged the 3000-mile distance between us, allowing me to send bizarre and hilarious hints to their doorstep. They’re smart kids, so they’re overthinking my clues. No matter. It’s the connection that really counts between us.
So I couldn’t have been more surprised today when they returned the connection to me. In mail came a fat envelope that said “Buen Camino,” full of inspirational quotes, scallop shell confetti, hand-made keychains, and a real scallop with love notes written on it to carry in my pocket.
I don’t even have words. Just speechless tears of gratitude.
How amazing to be loved right back. For my seeking to be understood, even just a little, by these two young women I admire so much.
To think–I was so worried I might feel lonely on this return trip. Now I know two Camino angels who will be along for the journey.
(Two and a half days!!!)