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... and we're back

In the words of the National Geographic documentary: And so as the sun sinks slowly in the west we bid farewell to beautiful Pago Pago ... That is, we got the hell out of Dodge. Pouring rain, darkness, and the smell of ocean salt lingering on our clothes and skins and souls. Did I say Dodge? I meant Maine. Did I say souls? I meant sneakers. My favorite memory might be the four of them climbing out of the surf on the first day's high tide, shaking their heads to clear them, smiling wide. Did anyone else notice, said Ed, that that was awesome! My favorite memory might be the start of our day trip to Boston, getting stuck in the E-Z pass toll lane without an E-Z pass. The barrier wouldn't go up for me, and the traffic piled up behind me, and everyone knew how to use their horns. The uniformed woman who finally rescued me from two lanes over was not sympathetic character. I had had time to practice my Oops-sorry look, but it was not going over.

See what you've done! she said to me, a vinegary old lobster of a toll guard. See what you've done here!

(Great local accent she had. Here came out like heah.)

I know! I said. Isn't it amazing!?

She shook her head darkly and called me a couple of names. I was hoping for chowderhead, but had to settle for asshole. Close enough.

My favorite memory might have been later that same day, working our way through the maze that is downtown Boston to get to Fenway Park. We started at the John Hancock building. Sam was riding shotgun, and kept telling me to turn right. Onto what street? I 'd say. And he'd shrug. Doesn't matter, he'd say. I'm on Charles' Gate, I'd say. (Or Huntington, Boylston, Storrow.) And he'd frown at the map and say, I can't find any of them. Better turn right. After a half hour of U-turns, wrong-way one-ways, and slow honk-filled circling (as the picture shows, there's a lot of rerouting, and no one seems too happy about it) we achieved the on-ramp of an eastbound expressway, and I caught a glimpse of the storied ballyard in my rearview mirror. I craned around. The expressway would take us directly away from Fenway. Found it! I pointed wildly, sounding like that page boy in the Walter Scott poem. There! Of course it was too late to get off the ramp, but we took the first exit off the expressway, and a block later found ourselves staring up at ... the John Hancock building. I burst out laughing. Imo, who is good at maps, took over the shotgun position.

Favorite memory doesn't matter. Four kids in their late teens who want to hang out together and with Dad -- that's the real point. Crossing the border into Canada the customs lady stared at my passport.

Who's this? she asked.

Me, I said. My hair was short last year.

You look older, she said.

How do you reply to that? Gee thanks? Shut up you fascist cow? The key at customs is simplicity.

And no humour.

Uh huh, I said.

Thea leaned over from the shotgun seat. It's been a long week for Dad, she said to the customs lady. Who broke into a surprising warm smile. Totally transformed her face.

I bet it has, she said. And raised the barrier, letting us back into Canada.


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