One of the quirky little ways life has worked out? The births of my nephews and niece each mark a monumental moment in my lifeline.
The eldest was born while I was in boot camp. He just turned 17.
I was actually there when his sister was born, then promptly left to catch a plane back to Spain and my first date with the man I'd end up spending the rest of my life with. She'll be 16 in December.
The youngest's 13th birthday is tomorrow. And, by request, I'm making a zombie cake. It's shaping up to be delightfully gruesome and gory.
The summer he was born was the summer I lived with my sister and her family. I had signed my military separation papers with a vague idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Packed my house up. Watched them crate the motorcycle and packed my bags. With one last lingering kiss goodbye to the one I'd love forever, I boarded a plane and didn't look back. We both had our own paths to walk. Our own plans. Our own dreams. All he had to do was ask me to stay and I would have. But he didn't. So I left. And that Thing, that Thing that had been with me my entire nomadic life enabling me to survive countless moves and goodbyes, kicked in and with dry eyes I walked.
I called him on his birthday. He said he missed me.
We started communicating via daily emails. Then regular phone calls. Very expensive phone calls.
I was still laying out my own plans for my future. I'd enrolled in a local university. My GI Bill paperwork was already approved and funds on their way. He'd made his own plans to come visit for a couple of weeks. Then some international crisis arouse and those plans were cancelled.
My nephew was born. The house was getting a little crowded. I was looking at apartments and about to sign a lease and make a deposit when he called. I miss you. I love you. I was an idiot to let you go.
13 years ago I cleared out my savings account and purchased a one way ticket back to Madrid. I dropped out of classes the day before school began, repacked my bags and leaped into the great unknown. I didn't sleep on the plane. My super power is that I can sleep anywhere, any place, any time. And I was wide awake for the entire seven hour flight. My brain wouldn't shut up. Had I made the worst mistake of my life? If this didn't work out, I had nothing. What the hell did I just do?
As I made my way through the crowd at the Madrid airport and came around the corner after customs he was standing right there in the middle of everyone. My heart leapt. And I Knew. I fell in love with him the first night I met him. That morning, four years later, I fell in love with him all over again.