Two years ago I drove to Fayetteville, North Carolina to see Ryan. My Daughter, J, and my son P, came with. At that point J had been dating R for three years, but since she was only 17 I would not let her visit him on her own. Ryan was in Fayetteville, stationed with the 82nd Airborne, and had his own apartment off base. We all stayed with him. In many ways I have been like a mother to him. So our visit was comfortable and familial. He had a nice apartment with plenty of room for all of us. But, he had no furniture. So, while I was there I bought a few things, like a small kitchen table and four chairs, so we could eat a meal. We slept on blow up mattresses.
One day J and Ryan decided to drive up to Raleigh to go to the shopping mall. P and I decided to drive to the ocean in Wilmington. My son was having a difficult time. Eighth grade was a challenge, socially, and I had pulled him out of school to home school him. Our trip was in part a visit to civil war sites and a study of the civil war. Driving to Wilmington from Fayetteville was lovely, through old plantations and farms. I had a sense of being in an unknown world, the stuff I’d read about in books. Beautiful, but tragic. Fallout from slave days seemed to be all around me, manifested in the obvious poverty that lived next door to magnificent farms.
P and I had a beautiful day at the ocean, walking up and down the shore, through the most incredible white sand. We had lunch at some little beach front place. College basketball games, play offs, were on TV. It was one of those days a mother longs for, when her child has pulled away and is struggling. It was one of those days I will remember always, I had my son back, at least for that day. We talked about all kinds of things. P does not talk about his life like J does. I rarely get insight into his inner world. But that day we reconnected. It was great.
Later we drove back to Fayetteville.
We drove back along the highway instead of the local route we’d taken down. That was, perhaps, my first mistake. Somehow we got horribly lost. In Fayetteville. Don’t aks me how this happented. I have no idea. All I know is we were on one side of town and could not figure out how to get to the other side of town and to the main street that led to Ryans apartment. We stopped and asked for directions. And got them. But they did not help.
We drove around, up and down, back and forth, for two hours. I felt like I was in a vortex, stuck in some time warp, unable to extricate myself. Mind you, I did not get upset or worried. I had my son in the car. He was the navigator. I think that was part of the problem – he didn’t really know how to read a map or tell directions. But, maybe he was learning….And I was very invested in showing him that he was loved and valued….
Finally about 8:30pm, tired, and very hungry, we found ourselves on the main street that led to Ryans apartment. I have no idea how. We just did. It was like we were supposed to just wander for a few hours and then, when enough time had passed, we could go home. It was too funny. We stopped at an Applebees and got carry out, went to Ryan’s and chilled out. Later Ryan said, why didn’t you call me? (he has a terrible sense of direction too, I wasn’t about to call him and get more lost)…but I said, oh, we were having fun. And in a weird way we were. P and I still laugh about it.