In a different scenario, the town we are passing now might have been my first home. Instead, I was raised in a different town further up the coast, by different parents than the two with whom I began my life.
I first visited my original parents' hometown in the early 1990s. I was not yet in reunion with either of my first parents, but I had acquired some information about my history, including the name of this town. I pulled off the highway and drove around, feeling like an interloper. Here was a place that was intimately connected somehow to my own history -- my very existence -- and yet I was not connected to it in any practical way. I was a stranger in an unfamiliar town. But if I were to pull over, if I were to dare to enter a store or a restaurant or chat with someone on the street, I might end up interacting with someone related to me or with someone who knew my original family. I didn't dare. I had no way of knowing yet what, if anything, my face might reveal of me in this town, and I perceived myself as breaking the rules. I understood that I was in violation of an unwritten contract -- one I had never agreed to be a party to but whose stipulations I knew all too well. I half expected to be pulled over at any moment by the adoption police.
If I was an adoption scofflaw then, I am a full-out criminal now. I have burned the contract. I claim what is mine.
I have been in reunion with my original mother for 18 years now, and though this newer reunion with my father is still young, we have developed a surprising close relationship in the time we have known each other -- just over a year.
Here we stand now, beside each other with our matching feet and our shared love of the ocean. Later, I will take the helm and he will gently guide and instruct guide me as I get the feel for this particular helm and learn to interpret this particular GPS. When he tells me I am doing a good job, I will beam with pride like a little child. For two days we will travel up the coast, the two of us switching on and off at the helm. On the third day, joined by his girlfriend and their dog, we will pass an idyllic day relaxing in a scenic cove. And then I will return home, still basking in the afterglow of reconnection, my cup full, nature and nurture aligning in me -- for now at least -- with a surprising and unfamiliar precision.