We sped south, Mary Ann and I, along I-5 in the direction of highway 1 in the central desert on an urgent journey to find a home along a deserted shore in Baja. Our children, grown now but still with us, were meeting us at Camp Gecko in a week. We hoped to have found a home by then.
Before we crossed the frontier at San Ysidro we stopped at a fast food place for burgers. We put our drinks, diet Cokes, into the holders on the dash of our Baja-bought Vaca Blanca suburban and headed south for the border.
We spent a total of three weeks in Bahia de Los Angeles. During the first week Mary Ann and I revisited several houses we had seen previously that we liked, and decided to make an offer on two of them. Both were accepted and now we were down to serious negotiations.
When Miguelito, Kevin, Carly and their friends arrived, a few days later, we were focusing on the finer points of both places and wanted the kids to help with our decision. But this was their vacation and my approaching retirement and we had different agendas. We spent time together daily looking at properties and discussing issues of each before the kids took off on explorations of their own. It was the first vacation in a year where we had all shared the same space and was wonderful to have them with us.
We piled daily into old Vaca Blanca and toured areas around the bay. We spent time at La Gringa just hanging out where we had all had so much time together earlier in our lives. Daily I packed our small portable cooler with drinks and ice to see us through the warm days of spring as we sorted through smooth round beach stones for tiny shells along the quiet shores. Miguelito always had his music and him Dumbek drum and was keeping time with the moods of our environment.
After a week of togetherness, Kevin and Carly and friends were heading north and back to work. Miguelito stayed with Mary Ann and me to help pick a home for our future that would someday belong to the boys. We wrestled with the issues of Fideicomisos and buying houses on Mexican land from the Americans that had built them there.
We eventually came to some conclusions, focused our interests, negotiated and made agreements. Money changed hands. Then we were headed north and back to the border, work and news of the war we were waging half way around the world. It was just Mary Ann, Miguelito, dog Dito and me on the return trip. We settled into the truck and made our personal adjustments. I drove the first leg. Mary Ann had shotgun and Miguelito was in the back fighting for space over the dog who had commanded the entire rear seat on the drive south.
It was ten hours 'til we reached the border, with a night in their midst at the Old Mill in San Quintin. Once we crossed into the States we all wanted junk food and stopped at the first place we found off the 805. We ordered and consumed greasy cheeseburgers and refilled our respective sodas and were back on the road several hours from home. Miguelito had driven much of our return trip. I was noting that I wasn't as fearful as I had been previously, as he entered turns, passed trucks and followed other vehicles closely in the hamlets along the way. We sucked our sodas and talked as peers in the front seat while it was Mary Ann's turn to fight for space with Dito. But Mary Ann always wins in any argument. By late in the day we arrived home, unpacked, and settled in. It was good to be back.
The next morning I got ready for work and nestled into the truck for the long drive to JPL. I put sunglasses on to face the bright eastern sun. As I pulled onto the highway that leads me south to another life my eyes noticed our drink cups from the drive north the day before. I had no need then for the radio that usually entertains me on my way to the lab. My spirit was buoyed by the memories of my family on our trip and the times we had shared in forming our shared future. We somehow, despite some obnoxious efforts on each of our parts, seem to have arrived at an age where we all belong together.
It was nice to have the time to myself, to reflect our shared lives starting when the boys were babies, through their pre-teens and all the sports and our family games, through their junior high issues and arguments, and high school, unfinished college, finding work and value, family gatherings along the way, fast friendships, shared problems, individual issues, and loves of their lives. Somehow, we had made it through the mires and minefields of a sometimes tumultuous and complex set of relationships to a perhaps only momentary safe harbor where we now found ourselves.
I can only hope and anticipate things will stay for a while where they have presently come to rest. From my vantage point that would be the best, to have arrived at a place after the stages of family life where we discover we actually are where we want to be.
Our worlds can reflect love if we only allow them that freedom.