Traveling mercies


Since I'll spend Thanksgiving with one of my sons, 
I thought it appropriate to share this of me and my girls,
taken on a Thanksgiving about ten years ago.
We were in Frisco at Jamie's house.

A friend sent me that message, “traveling mercies,” today in response to my announcement that I would be going all the way to Tomball (honest, it’s not that far, not like I was flying cross country as many families must do). The truth is I am not an easy traveler, never have been. I have friends who itch to travel all the time, and whose lives are scheduled from one trip to the next—river cruises in Europe, theater trips to NYC, vacations on Mexican beaches. None of that tempts me, although I loved traveling vicariously with a friend who just toured the Tenement Museum in New York and then explored Staten Island. That’s my kind of travel—you can keep your art museums.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some wonderful travels in my long life. Probably the outstanding trip was to Scotland with Colin and Megan. We spent eight days in the Highlands, visiting a new castle every day. That in itself was an amazing experience—some were occupied, some were ruins, one I remember had the most amazing collection of swords and other lethal weapons. It practically bristled. But the highlight was visiting the MacBain Memorial Park in Dores, outside Inverness. (I am a registered member of Clan MacBean—MacBain, MacBean, spell it any of a thousand ways.)

Another memorable trip was to Chicago to show my four grown children where I grew up. We stayed at the Drake Hotel (in my day, the epitome of luxury) and ate at wonderful restaurants on the North Side. Spent one day exploring my Hyde Park neighborhood and the University of Chicago. If we ever go back, I’d spend more time in Hyde Park. My affection for it has grown since I’ve researched today’s neighborhood versus my memories as I wrote the Irene in Chicago Culinary Mysteries.

Jordan and I took a great trip to Hawaii, staying with friends on Kauai and then spending a couple of days on Maui. Mostly to attend writers’ meetings, I’ve been to Portland and Spokane, Los Angeles, Billings, and Albuquerque. I went once to New York, many years ago, and have never felt the need to go back. But I’ve made countless trips to Santa Fe and within Texas have been several times to Corpus Christi, San Antonio, the Hill Country, even Amarillo and Lubbock.

And sure I have a bucket list, though I’ll probably never take any of these trips. But I long to go back to Scotland, Santa Fe, and Chicago—see, that’s me. I don’t hunger so much after new vistas as I do returning to places I’ve loved. And you can put the Indiana Dunes high on that list. But I would also like to go to the California wine country and to Alaska for salmon. Probably I’ll never do those, and that’s okay.

I will go to Tomball to be with my oldest son, Colin, and his family. I haven’t been there in at least two years, so the glimpses I’ve had of those grandchildren have been brief, and they’ve grown so much, so fast in the last couple of years. Lisa, my DIL, and I will talk about schools and books (she teachers seventh grade math) and about cooking, because she’s a great cook. Colin ad I will talk about computer problems and my finances and my writing world. We may talk a bit about politics. And weather permitting, we’ll take wine and sit on benches on the edge of the small lake (large pond?) on his property. I’ll get to hug his mother-in-law, who is one of my favorite people and who now lives on adjacent property. They are in the country outside Tomball, and not in the city which, like many once-sleepy Texas towns, has grown into sprawl. It will be fun, a return to a place where I have many happy memories.

Sophie will go with me, while the Burtons stay home to entertain Christian’s family at Thanksgiving and then spend the weekend decorating for Christmas. We’ll see how Sophie does—she’s usually okay in Tomball, though Lisa doesn’t like her on the couch and there’s a new dog who may not welcome her. And she won’t have the freedom to run as she does here, because there is no fenced yard, and she must be walked on a leash.

But it will be good, and I’m looking forward to it. I just have to take that first step out the door.

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