We drove away. The vacancy sign was still on at the motel and the manager was still in her office. On Christmas Eve? We were amazed at our luck. We got our keys and drove over to park outside our room.
By the time we unloaded our stuff my stomach was rumbling and I had a sour taste in my mouth. I made it to the bathroom barely in time. There went Grandma’s dinner.
Jessie located my liquid Maalox and brought it to me. I was busy cleaning myself up at the sink. I had never mastered the fine art of vomiting gracefully. It always went up my nose, burning like fire. I took the Maalox and made a face. May as well suck on chalk. I was glad to brush the taste out of my mouth with my cinnamon toothpaste.
“You know, I never could quite believe your family was that bad,” Jessie said.
“I guess you have to see them to believe them,” I said bitterly. I followed Jessie into the other room. “I’ve often wondered why I was born into this family. I didn’t fit in even before I came out.” We stripped and crawled into bed, too tired to take a shower.
“You’re lucky you have such a great family,” I continued, frankly envious.
“Now I know just how lucky…” Jessie leaned over to kiss me, and I tried to forget about the evening and focus. Be Here Now, as Ram Dass says. She began to massage my back and shoulders and I turned on my stomach to grant her better access.
“See how tense you are?” Jessie asked. “You need to let go, just relax.”
Her long blond hair merged with my shorter red curls as she leaned over me. I felt the tension begin to evaporate. The long day caught up with me and I relaxed into a drowsy, semi-conscious state.
I was trying to remember what Scarlett O’Hara always said. Oh, yeah, tomorrow is another day.
Tonight we were alone and we were together. Suddenly I was feeling lucky. I had a beautiful wife and two great children—what more could I ask for? This was the family I lived with. This was the family that mattered. This was all the family I really needed.
That was my last coherent thought for the night.