Today's a vacation day for me, and after the weekend it's a good thing. I'm going to need it. I won't forget what happened over the last two days any time soon, and I have some wonderful permanent reminders.

The trip up was unexciting by itself, but with the knowledge that I was going to see Reeny, I could hardly contain myself. I didn't even really mind getting up at four in the morning to be at the airport at five to be on a plane at six, or having to fly through Atlanta. Boston Logan airport is apparently permanently under construction, kind of like Dallas-Fort Worth is, but much much worse.

After five hours of flying, I landed in Boston and then had to make my way to the car-rental place. That was more expensive than I was expecting, but I always forget things like insurance and gas-replacment policies and such, but I was expecting it and it was still worth it. Then I had about ninety minutes of driving from the airport out to Lurene's parents' place.

When I first saw her, it was almost a pleasantly tangible shock. For over six years, we've been there for each other, through good times and bad, supporting and helping and holding and being with each other. I've basically stood in loco parentis for her for six years, and even before she and I had recognized that fact or spoken about it, we were calling each other sister. Until Saturday, though, it had always been online or over the phone. Now, finally, it was in person.

I felt like I'd come home.

She hopped into the SUV that I'd rented (I'd requested an economy car but they didn't have any and I got this one for the same cost) and we went right to the mall. She popped a Crosby, Stills and Nash tape in to the player and she showed me the scenic route to get there. All the way up, we talked about about how good it was to see each other, and...

This is kind of strange, really. I couldn't tell you exactly what we discussed, just that we talked the whole time. I guess that's one factor of being with someone so special. We could talk... or not talk... about anything and the details of the conversations themselves aren't the factor so much as the shared joy of interaction.

Anyway, we got to the mall, and Reeny showed me around. It's a worse den of rampant commercialism than even the biggest offender near my apartment. It has a Target and a Best Buy inside the mall! That kind of shocked me, though I had seen that before in a few malls down in Perth while I was there. After hitting the length and breadth of the stores, we found a place that offered free ear piercing with the purchase of a pair of studs, so we did it.

Piercing our ears together was something that had come up, back when the plan was for Jason and I to come up for her graduation, because at the time she was planning on moving out right after that, and so I said, "Hey, when we come up to visit, you and I can go get our ears pierced at the same time" and she thought that was a really nifty idea. I know it's something we've both wanted to do for a while now, but she could never get her parents to agree to it. She managed to get their permission, though, so we went to do it.

We found a style we both liked and sat down to do it. Reeny went first and the first stud went in fine, but they had to do the second twice which was really annoying. Then it was my turn and I sat down and the guy with the piercing gun cleaned my earlobes and dotted them, then lined up the gun and the next thing I knew I had studs! It hurt, but only for a few seconds and now they're a bit itchy at times but that's all.

After that, we went to get dinner, and we sat in the restaurant and talked for a while more. Then we wandered around the mall a bit more and headed out to find a motel. It turned out that the nicest one we could find was less than ten minutes from her house, after half an hour of wandering around trying to find the mall, but I enjoyed the scenic drive. So, we went up to the room and cuddled for a while, and then Reeny said she wanted to be over at her friend Erin's place to watch something at seven, but she couldn't remember the phone number so we had to stop by her parents so she could call. That wasn't a problem, but when she came out of there, she had a bit of a down expression on her face. I asked what was wrong and she said that her parents had announced they wanted her home at one in the morning, and that tomorrow afternoon she needed to be in at one as well so they could go out somewhere.

I wasn't happy with that, and at first I tried to see if she could talk them out of that, seeing as this was going to be my only real chance to see her and I wanted as much time with her as I could get, but I also didn't want to risk screwing up their relationship after things looked like they were going to get better, so after a brief protest I dropped it and said I'd have her back by about one.

On the way over to Erin's, though, I did ask her why she had chosen to stay behind. She got really quiet at first, and then she basically said she didn't have a "good" reason but that she wanted to believe that when they saw her packed up to move out and realized that she was serious and that someone was on the way up that weekend to get her and her stuff and take her away from them the first day it was legal, they got shocked into realizing that they couldn't keep doing what they were doing and had to either accept or lose her. I admitted I had trouble believing that that was the case, but I told her that I wanted her to know that I supported her decision and would back her one-hundred percent. I still do.

Erin turned out to be really nice and really cute, and she does look like a pagan high priestess, with long red hair down her back. We all curled up in her room at first to watch Reeny on a televised high school quiz show in which she did really good and the announcer screwed up so many times that I had to laugh at him, and then we went up to her brother's room to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Erin had, shockingly, never seen it so the whole time Lurene and I kept giggling and reminding each other not to recite the script along with the film, but we did sing along with the musical numbers. I think if we hadn't, Erin wouldn't have been able to understand. "Camelot" is hard to understand because of the accents and mispronounced words to make them fit the music. After it was over, Erin said it was probably the most surreal and bizarre movie she'd ever seen, so Reeny promised to subject her to the rest of her Python collection.

After that, Reeny and I went back up to my motel room and we cuddled for a while and I had my first crying fit. I'm still not entirely sure what brought it on but I started crying as I held her and she told me everything would be okay and I felt a bit better. There wasn't really anything that needed to be said, though. We just lay there together for a few hours, snuggled up against each other. All the words had already been said. It was such a wonderful feeling.

I took her home after that, and I went back and got a short nap. I actually did wake up around half past six, but I was too tired to be coherent still so I dozed and then got up at eight and called Reeny. She asked for half an hour, so I picked her up forty-five minutes later and we went to breakfast. After that we went back up to the hotel room so I could pack up and check out. We ended up lying down for a while because we were both still tired, and then we got up and, while I was in the bathroom, Lurene flipped on the television to see what was on and managed to find "An American Tail" on Cartoon Network, and it was right when Feivel and Sasha had started singing "Somewhere Out There". I had my second crying jag at that point. I've loved that song since I heard it the first time, and in this case it was very appropriate.

Check-out was quick enough, so we went up to Barnes and Noble after that and she found me a Robert Anton Wilson book, Ishtar Rising for the flight back, which I bought, and I picked her up a copy of Atlas Shrugged because she didn't have one yet. I asked her to read the first part of Part Three, where Dagny first crashes in Atlantis, up until she looks at Galt and says, "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?" Reeny put down the book at that point and smiled and said she was going to have to get a copy, so I bought it for her as a birthday present above and beyond the trip itself. Then we hit CompUSA and geeked for a while, and then we went over to Circuit City and I found a bunch of CDs I'd been trying to find and bought them; they weren't really an impulse buy because i'd been looking for them for a while. I keep telling myself that.

By this point, it was one and time for me to take Lurene home. The drive to her house was painfully short. Crying jag number three hit then, and watching her get out of the car and walk back into her parents' house was one of the hardest things I've done in a long time. Then I started the drive back to the airport. I listened to the tape she gave me, the one she put in the player when she first got into the truck, once I got to the Mass Pike. Crying jag number four.

From there, there really isn't much to tell. I got to the airport three hours before my scheduled flight, but there was an earlier flight out of Boston to Atlanta that I could catch, so I did. I didn't know there weren't any earlier flights out of Atlanta to Dallas, so I just moved my three-hour wait from one airport to another, and ultimately I got home at around one in the morning today.

I had a wonderful time, but the trip was far too short. I know, though, that it won't be another six years before I see her again. She finishes high school in three months, and then it's summer and she's got trips to visit schools that have accepted her, and then after that she'll be in college and she'll have lots of chances to visit

I love you, Lurene. Thank you, for the last two days, for the last six years, for everything.

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