I am writing from the airplane on my way home from a whirlwind trip to Atlanta. And when I say whirlwind, I couldn’t be more literal. Everybody has heard about the big tornado that touched ground in downtown Atlanta on Friday. When it hit I was on my way into the city to meet up with some friends at Hard Rock Café. It hit at 9:30pm, while we were driving there, and when we got to the downtown area it was chaos. Emergency vehicles everywhere, debris littering the streets, streetlights and power polls down. When we finally made it to a parking lot, after traveling only a few blocks in an hour, there was an enormous, at least 20 foot long, piece of twisted metal right next to where we parked our car. I can only imagine the damage and injuries if there had been vehicles or people in it’s path.
Shortly after my two friends and I got to Hard Rock Café, all the surrounding streets were closed to traffic. Several large buildings around us were out of power, but somehow HRC was spared . So we sat down to eat and visit, and when we finally left the restaurant at 2am, we were able to see more of the aftermath of the tornado. There were broken windows in all of the high rise buildings, bent and twisted billboards and street signs, and a lot of curious people walking the streets. I didn’t know the scope if the damage until I saw the news the next day. The area I had seen was mild compared to other parts of downtown. It was pretty amazing. On my drive to the airport this afternoon, I went past some of the worst hit areas, and saw the incredible destruction and mess that the people of Atlanta have to deal with.
The reason for my trip to Georgia was to attend the wedding of my uncle, Steven, who is only 2 years older than me, and was more like a best friend or brother when we were kids growing up in a small Arizona town. We had many adventures together on the beaches of Lake Powell, roaming the streets of Page, getting ourselves into lots of mischief. My favorite memory with Steven is when we were 8 and 10, and we decided to run away from home, along with 2 other cousins. I think Steven my have gotten in trouble, but the rest of us were just running away out of loyalty to him, and our love of adventure. I lived a few blocks form a small airport, so we walked there, with our backpacks full of food and books and flashlights. There wasn’t much security at the airport, and we were able to get into the lot where the airplanes were parked without any detection. We didn’t plan this beforehand but we found ourselves trying all the small planes for any open doors. And to our surprise and delight, we were able to find one that was unlocked. The four of us climbed inside, looked around, made ourselves comfortable, and then ate all the candy that the pilot had stashed in a console. We immediately felt badly for stealing it (and seeing the Bible that was stored in the same console was contributing to our feelings of guilt) and got out of the plane and ran for the desert. It was only another 2 hours or so before we got bored of being runaways and went back home. We all ended up confessing to our parents about the break in, and while I got grounded for a week, Steven, who is the youngest of 11 children and we know how easy youngest kids have it, was just sent to bed early.
Steven and I had lots of good times growing up together. When I moved away to Oregon in my junior year of high school, we slowly lost that close bond. Distance and interests changed. It’s been 15 years now, and while I love him and appreciate all the childhood memories we share, I’m a little sad that we barely know each other as adults. I guess that is just part of the cycle of life. But it was really nice to spend time with him this past weekend and be reminded of how great he is, and how much our history together plays in to who I am today. Being with him, and with all the other family that made the trip to Atlanta for his wedding, felt so comfortable, like going back to my childhood home.
Right now I am flying over Arkansas, it’s getting dark, and I still have 5 hours and a layover in Denver before I get home. Going away on vacations is always bittersweet for me. I really need some time away from the stress of raising a family, and a break form autism and all it’s demands. I love traveling to new places and all that entails. Sleeping all night long with no interruptions from Jacob is a definite luxury, and only having myself to get ready in the mornings is awesome. But there are some things about home that can’t be matched no matter where I go. Four days without cuddling with Jacob is tough for me, and knowing how hard it is on him when I am gone, and how long it takes to get back to normal when I return. Not having Chris right there to hold my hand and explore alongside me and be my other half makes me miss him so much. Tyler and Madison make everything more fun and have such curious spirits. I wish we were in a position that allowed us to travel to have adventures all together. So while I am seeing new sights and eating new foods and meeting new people, and enjoying it and absorbing everything, always in the back of my mind is the sorrow that we may never be able to have adventures like this as a family of five. I used to dream, before autism got so big and so hard, that we would travel all over, see the entire country and many others as well. I’m starting to let this dream go, like so many other that I have had to release.
In 5 hours I’ll be home. With the best people I know, the ones who love me no matter what. The family that laughs with me when situations are so hard that it’s the only thing we can do to get by. My husband and children who share the heartache end worries, and the successes and joy of simple things. I think I could travel the whole world, and meet fabulous people and see amazing things, and nothing would compare to the people who are waiting for me tonight. There’s no place like home.