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There was a family reunion happening, in a hotel on the edge of a city, next door to a small airport. My mother was there, and P_____ had brought her kids.
It was a strange place. The toilet and tub were right there next to the bed, not separated by a wall or anything, which certainly made me glad I'd gotten my own room. The check-in and check-out times were at odd hours, too, and before I knew it I'd overstayed my reservation and would have to pay for an extra day. Even though most of us were leaving. Meeting our flights at the airport that was just a short walk away.
A pilot had just landed a small private plane, and I greeted him like a traveling business associate. As we walked toward the hotel I explained some of its quirks, and invited him to join me for dinner.
My mother was there when we arrived, with my sister and father. This surprised me because my parents had split in a bitter divorce when I was thirteen. But they were going to give things another try. After all these years my father had changed. My mother, too. We all had.
They wanted to get dinner at a restaurant located on the other side of the city. I'd been there once before. It wasn't worth the trip and I tried to convince them of this, but they insisted.
I got on the train that would take me there. It was crowded with commuters and children and people who were rude, all of them loud and jostling each other for space. My stop was the last on the line. When I got off I was horrified to discover I was completely naked.
That's when I remembered: THIS is why I hated this trip so much. Getting off the train naked, with no idea how it had happened. But I'd done it once before and survived. The secret was not minding that I wasn't wearing any clothes. If I ignored it, everyone else would, too.
Fortunately I found a large cardigan sweater at the foot of a staircase, one that would cover me completely. I wrapped it around myself and climbed the stairs for what seemed like ten or twenty floors and finally emerged in a mall.
I wondered if I could get a pair of pants and shoes somewhere, even though I didn't have any money. Maybe I could explain the situation to whoever was working and they'd understand. That's when I reached into the pockets of the sweater and found a wad of money. Twenties and tens and ones. Enough to buy whatever I needed. And in the other pocket, an ID badge from a hospital. The name on it was Michael Breen, M.D.
I continued walking through the mall, passing a number of other restaurants that would have been just as good if not better than the one we were going to. It was at the far end and by the time I finally got there my parents and sister were leaving. They'd ordered dinner without me and finished their meals.
"What happened to you?" they asked.