Nicole has been busier than usual these days. After a week spent at the Oregon Country Fair with a friend, she worked a booth at the Hood River Country Fair, learning how to get burnt making cotton candy, how hard carnies work, and how fabulous it is to be at a fair at night when everyone else has gone home.
She returned from those adventures to get on a Greyhound bus and travel all the way to Tennessee, where she was a counselor at an unschooling camp for a week. She taught her group how to do the Cup Game, performed in the talent show, and had a wonderful time. From there, she took another bus over to Indiana. She stayed for a week with her Grandmother (Joseph's mom, who lives in our old house, so she slept in her original bedroom), and visited her past in every way possible.
She had coffee with her best friend from the past--now a mom and wife. She met up with neighbors, going to lunch, getting rides and catching up. She went to our all time favorite playhouse where Jasmine and I used to usher, and saw one of the best plays ever, "Forever Plaid". She went to the office where Joseph, his sister, and his parents once worked, and to the playground and park where she used to play and go to day camp. She had dinner with two families that did--and still do--mean the world to us. They showed her amazing hospitality and kindness, welcoming her into their lives as if we had only stepped out for a few weeks instead of years. They plied her with coffee and delicious food and laughter and memories.
She visited our old grocery store, ate at favorite old spots, and walked through familiar pathways. She went out into the huge field behind our house where we took the kids to play all the time. We shot rockets up from here, shouted hello down the mancovers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that the kids KNEW lived down there, and had picnics there over the years.
She met up with very kind relatives and borrowed Grandma's car to drive around, getting Penguin Point french fries, and some coffee at Courthouse Coffee, and then drove to Leesburg to see the house she was born in. I had her walk down the main street and told her about how, when we lived there, Jasmine and I would get up in the morning and walk down to the post office to get our mail (no home mail delivery in a town this small), and then stop in the grocery store to get a glazed donut. We would sit on the curb and share it.
As she took this trip into the past, I was vicariously right along with her, you see. Tonight we will sit down and go through the 1,000 photos she took of the her time in Indiana and further reminisce. I am glad she is back home, sitting next to me as we do so. As much as she enjoyed her time connecting to the past, she is happy to be back here where the present and a very bright future await her, and so are we.