On the ride back to town Gage asked me when he was going to meet my husband. I told him I wasn’t married anymore. He seemed relieved, yet I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. I was flattered that he found me interesting but there was no way I was going to get involved with such a young man.
“You aren’t married? No Mr. Fate?” he said “You are way too smart and way too pretty to be alone.”
“I have become very independent, and I really like my life the way it is. I don’t feel the need to ever be married again. There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. When you realize the difference, you find out you are never alone or lonely if you choose not to be.” I replied.
” Now you do sound like my mother!” he said
“If she doesn’t need you tonight, you are welcome to come to my home and have dinner with us. Come around 5 pm and we will eat around 6, okay? Just walk through the skyway past the bookstore, follow the signs to the Holiday Inn Hotel, at the hotel elevators type in the code 8955. Take the elevator up to the 11th floor. Take a left off the elevator and knock on door 1115. That’s my house.” I explained
“You live in a hotel? And our two hotels are connected by a skyway system?” He said with some amazement.
“Well it is a condo built into a hotel. Everything in the downtown area is about convenience. You know the temperature fluctuations can be extreme here, so technically the subway and skyway systems make it possible to live comfortably without necessarily having to go outside. The skyways are walkways built over the city streets. The subways are walkway tunnels built under the city. You can walk for miles, and the system is continuing to be expanded all the time. It is really nice when the outside temperature is below zero or raining. You don’t have to go outside if you don’t want or need to. ” I clarified
“Ok. I’ll probably be on my way later if my mom is doing ok, and provided I don’t get lost in the skyway system! Do you want me to bring anything?” Gage asked considerately.
“No. We are good. You won’t get lost. There are signs the whole way to direct you. Are you are allergic to any foods, or anything you don’t like?” I asked him.
“Not that I know of. I pretty much eat anything. Thanks for asking.” He replied
“I’m planning to have a light dinner. The girls and I eat only raw food about 80% of the time. I’m thinking fruit tonight.Is that ok with you?” I said
“Sure. Don’t you like to cook?” He asked with his smile
“I love to cook, but eating raw gives us a lot of energy and we feel good doing it. The kids love it, and so do I. Sometimes we order pizza, or go out for Chinese food, but we all feel so heavy after eating cooked food. We don’t really like it anymore. I usually let the kids decide what they want, and they usually choose raw food.” I explained.
“Well, I have never met a raw food family. I look forward to meeting you girls, they sound as smart as their mother.” He said as he waved goodbye.
A few hours later, I heard the knock on the door promptly at 5 pm. I introduced Gage to Naima and Khadeja. Naima likes to be called Neema, and Khadeja we usually call Deeja. I explained to him as they hid behind my legs. He looked a little bit shocked, and of course I didn’t blame him. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting to see two little girls from Sudan. They were both precious in their own unique ways. They were not related by blood, but were best friends and sisters. The girls scrambled into the playroom before Gage could say anything to them.
“They are both adorable. They don’t look like you at all, but adorable still. The younger one, Deeja, has much lighter colored skin than Neema.” he said
“Deeja’s mother was Caucasian and her father was from northern Sudan. Naima is from the southern tribal regions of south Sudan. They have very different backgrounds even though they come from the same country. Sudan is the largest country in Africa. The people recently passed a referrendum to split the country into northern and southern regions. I got the best of both sides right here with me!” I said
” Girls, we are going to have a raw food night. Can you help me wash the fruit?” I yelled to them from the other room.
“Yeah mama, we are coming. Just a minute we have to finish our drawing for you.” Naima yelled back
” This place is posh. How in the world do you afford to live here?” Gage spoke out loud as he was mesmerized at the city scape scene out of the southern window. “I’m sorry to ask that. That just came out. I didn’t mean to sound so rude.”
“It’s ok. You aren’t the first, won’t be the last to ask the same question. While I was living at Ivy Lodge, I worked night shifts for four years with a very wealthy brain injured man. When he and his wife passed away, they left this place for me, along with a very sizable gift of money to pay the association fees and bills. I made some smart investments with the money, and in a few years was able to do what I love. While on a mission in southern Sudan to help drill water wells, I adopted Neema. I went back two years later, and adopted Deeja.
” You can see the whole city from here. This is a stunning view! It’s hard to believe someone just gave this to you. ” He exclaimed
“There are stipulations to the deal, but it works out for now.You should see the amazing sunrises from here. It is nice, but I really prefer to live in the country. Someday, when the time is right, I will get back to nature. It really revitalized me going out to the river today. It was nice being able to share some of my history with you too. I haven’t been out there in the past few years.” I added.
“Yeah. For some reason, I feel like there is a lot more to come. That’s cool that you adopted these girls, I can tell they really love you.They are really lucky to have you for their mom.” He said with a bit of sadness coming through.
“There are a few things I want to share with you, but we can talk about those things tomorrow. Let’s eat, drink and be happy. ” I said
We ate our grapes, mangoes, bananas, and strawberries, along with a nice chilled fruit smoothie. Simple, sweet, and full of life. Just the way I like it. The girls entertained our guest with some songs and dances they learned at daycare. We laughed as the little one shook her finger at her big sister when she sang the wrong words. The girls went to play in their room, and Gage and I finished our conversation.
“What about your other kids? Where are they?” He asked
“They live with their dad up north. I only see them a few times a year, but we stay in touch with the internet, and phone. Grace and Charlotte grew up at Ivy Lodge. It was the best time for all of us. Their dad and I were already divorced when we moved there. I worked the night shift, he worked during the day. We made it work for the girls. Now, they prefer to be up on the lake, and I don’t blame them one bit. When Ivy Lodge was sold, the girls moved up north, and I moved here.” I told him
“Who bought Ivy Lodge?” Gage asked me
“I honestly don’t know. It has changed hands several times over the years. Sometimes when I think about it I get sad. I’m not sure of the details. I hope it is still standing .” I said as I started cleaning the dishes.
“Hey, what ever happened to Doctor Kulstad after he retired?” he questioned
“Well, his house went up for sale and my mother and father purchased it. My sisters and I grew up in that house. My parents still live their today. There is a book titled “The House of Seven Gables” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne.The doctor’s house was built with seven gables after that book was written.I guess I should read the book, huh? I have no idea what it is about. Of course my mother has a copy on her bookshelf. I just never felt the urge to read it.” I mused.
“What in the world is a gable?” Gage giggled
“Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either. It’s a structure on the roof that looks like a triangle.Maybe we will drive over there someday and I’ll show you.” I said, not really knowing a better way to describe it. He looked so confused, I had to draw him a diagram like this:
“My parents have owned that house for a good twenty plus years, and I still refer to it as the Dr.’s house. Dr. Kulstad moved somewhere with his wife, and I never saw him again. I never got to tell him how important he was in my life. I believed he has passed on by now.” I finished saying feeling tired from the day.
“Gonna pick me up same place and time tomorrow?” Gage asked quietly, noticing I was ready to settle in for the night.
“Yes. We can stop and have lunch when we get back into town. Say hello to your mom for me. I hope we can meet each other before you go home. What’s her name by the way?” I asked
Gage said “Her name is Patricia, but most everybody calls her Trish. Two of her brothers have passed away, and the other one, Robert, is not doing so well himself. He lives somewhere around Tuscon, AZ. Grandma and Grandpa on both sides are gone too. I guess I don’t know much at all about my family history. I feel really alone most of the time, especially after my dad died. I am really close with my mom, but I’m afraid I’m losing her too.” He explained
“That’s understandable. You are dealing with a huge load of emotions. I will be here for you as long as you want me to be. You are a good kid with a bright future. You have the same greatness within yourself as anybody ever did in your family tree. You just haven’t found your passion yet, but you will.” I said as I gave him a big hug goodnight.
“Goodnight Guinn. I’ll see you in the morning.” He said as he turned to enter the elevator and follow the skyway back to his mother.
“Goodnight Gage.” I whispered.