I've traveled so many places in my lifetime,
Each one contributed to my growth and health.
Each one tried equally hard to break me.
Within those travels there were smaller travels
Places and people both reliable and unreliable.
I loved them all, and still do.
I lived next door to the White House.
Watched planes land every day.
Met the houses where history lives.
Because I married my future history.
I lived in a forest In Pennsylvania.
Played bingo with bears and lost.
Drove away on a bike made of four wheels.
Kept two on the ground.
When I drove home, I listened to hank Williams.
And he told me angels flew by my window.
I believed him because I made it home alive,
As a child, I went to the beach with my father.
He collected sand and seashells.
And so this was my only moment with the man I loved.
To this day when he speaks I hear the ocean.
My grandfather took me to mountains that smoke.
We lived in a bus he built for school.
And the school was our home.
Walking in the footprints of pioneers.
Tracing the paw prints of strangers.
Collecting memories and nature.
And for him they were his last breaths that broke my heart,
I traveled to Florida.
And met a place where castles and magic,
Are made of plastic dreams.
We traveled to it on my mothers wheelchair.
On her pain, fairy tales gave her sympathy.
Crocodiles wept for her.
And when I returned later to visit a friend.
I think they remembered me.
They sent squirrels to chase me,
Like angry sentries.
I'm sure they were yelling where is your mother.
All my friend heard was angry chatter and demands for food,
I traveled to Arkansas.
And there I met the sky for the first time.
I had seen it before.
But In The moment I arrived.
It saw me and set down a path of colors.
My door to Arkansas was a gate made of double rainbows.
They followed me almost every day I was there.
Then I moved to Texas.
I fled there for my life carrying my child.
I knew no one but my suitcase.
And that was all I had to my name.
I met the kindness of strangers.
I also met a new sky.
Which welcomed me with so many rainbows,
I thought Jesus was here.
Jesus must have been amused by that thought.
Then kindness called me beautiful..
And named me red ribbon.
To this day, I wonder why.
I was a small girl with a small child,
I felt if I owned anything it was need and stupidity.
Nothing lovely was mine.
But Texas had been waiting for me.
It greeted me with sandcastles I didn't know it owned.
Then welcomed me to it's famous last stand.
Where it called me smart and capable.
In Texas I grew on the kindness of work.
I worked for God and I worked for man.
Both being more generous to me in training,
And in patience than I felt I deserved.
When I worked for God, he taught me jokes.
When I worked for men, I told them the jokes I learned.
I drove places that were science fiction.
So they called me the dark side of the force.
But my real name was still read ribbon.
The only exception to this name.
Was when they sent me to visit the last place we drove.
A place so lonely and destitute that it was guarded by bitterness.
There my name was Josephine.
And my coat was made of sky and cry.
It was a prison that worked for science fiction.
And they put me in charge of armed guards.
I'm not in Texas any more.
I've gone back to where my father once loved me.
I don't know what this place remembers of me.
All grown up and travel weary.
I hope it remembers me fondly.
As I remember it's collections of sand and seashells.
I leave behind my former names.
Awaiting my new title.
Another name I will feel I do not deserve.
All my former names kept in a box in my heart.
I leave behind strangers who are now more than friends.
They are the fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers I prayed for.
Because my own family never knew my real name.
They named me lonely, they named me failure, they named me debt.
Those names haunt me today and compete with my new names.
Those memories compete for my heart.
I can't unpack the best or the worst of my travels.
But I welcome the kindness of new strangers.
In an old familiar place.
Carrying with me a heavy heart, and a new companion.
Leaving behind everything else I ever owned.
My new home is named sweet Caroline.
And I'm waiting for her to call me what she will.
I hope its Hannah forever and my travels are complete.
I have a feeling it might be cheers and jeers.
Dear sweet Caroline, please make a place for me with you.
Introduce me to what you adore above what memories We shared.
Please look past my tired and broken smile.
Please overlook my heart weary miles.
For I am orphaned again.
No job for God or man except a tired sharp pen.
Nothing much worth anything except for what I love.
Both leaving behind and what little I can bring with me,
But mostly left behind, the loves of my life.
I Need and hope you will love me, adopt me as my last travels have.
I will bring you my recipes for barbecue,
My plastic fairy tales, my memories of history, and science fiction.
I will let you name me as you see fit.
I trusted you as a child, and you never failed me.
I trust you again as an older child.
To make a place for me that fits me well.
Comforts me in my grief for leaving my greatest love.
Your name says you will whether you name me or not.
It may not be my last travels.
I don't expect to be named Esther.
Until my travels take me to unnamed places.
In a boat I don't have to build.
Driven by a captain whose brother I met here.
When I worked for science fiction.
I saved him a seat next to mine.
I think we have a lot to talk about on that trip.
Or at least I will have a lot to listen to for a change.
That's the trip I'm looking forward to the most.
But his stories and our seats can wait.
It's a ship crowded with reunions.
Of all the family that ever adopted me.
A ship where the sky no longer says hello.
It says welcome home.
Where stars will be my new family.
And I can finally be worthy of my best names.