A Summer’s Dream.
There we were, five orphan kids stuck in the midst of chaos. We had no choice. That was obvious. Who would choose to be an orphan? We were stuck in an orphanage that was too full for anyone’s good. Yes, they tried, of course they did. They wanted every kid to have a home but it was no use. They couldn’t do everything.
We’ll never forget those months, we woke up every morning dreading the day. They were almost worse than when our parents first died and we had moved from home to home until the state decided what to do. Every day I wondered, What if someone adopts just one of us and we never see each other again! It was so rare for five kids to be adopted together, and we all knew it. I dreamed many nightmares during those long hard months, until, one amazing day, we received good news.
We were being moved! We were told there was another orphanage that was for special kids. Kids with sicknesses, or special needs, or large families. It’s hard to say we were overjoyed but we did have hope that we would get to stay together.
And then we got there and I will never forget Kate’s face. As the oldest two siblings she and I tried to be strong and brave for the others. But, when we saw that building, all Kate’s fierce resign and bravery melted into pure joy. And by the way I felt I imagine I looked just like her! It was wonderful!
Right outside a little town was a big area with several buildings. The biggest building was bright and colorful. There was a beautiful play ground and several other inviting buildings. Somehow, at first sight, we all knew we could live there and we did. But not for long.
Our biggest shock came, not when we first got there, but three months later when the head of the orphanage came to our room one evening and talked to us.
“Children, there is a couple here that would like to adopt you.” She stated.
And believe me, that was the biggest shock of all! Of course we realized they’d sent us there in hopes we would get a new home but it hadn’t really sunk in by then that we could actually get ‘new parents!’ And to my surprise when Pearl found out about it she was almost mad! She had never wanted new parents in the first place and after living at that orphanage she didn’t want to leave!
“They just want to replace Mommy and Dad!” She told me after we’d learned the news, “They just want us to forget our real family and replace them!”
“No, they don’t, they will love us.” Kate informed her, “Really, you’ll see.”
But that night after Pearl and the twins were asleep Kate and I got to talking.
“I . . . I’m scared.” I whispered
“Me too, in away.” Kate confessed. “But, Jordan, remember how nice everyone has been, even in the stuffanage. (That was what we called the old, stuffed orphanage.) They all wanted to care for us, if these parents are adopting us they will do the same.”
“I guess.” I sighed, and knew she was right. But, it had only been a year since our parents had died in the awful car wreck. I shuttered as I thought of it, “Do we get to say we don’t want to be adopted?”
“I don’t know, but why would we, they want all five of us! And they sound nice.”
“I guess. Didn’t she say they are going to move to a new house?”
“Yes, the wife always liked it and she wanted to live there. I think.”
“Yah, it’s a vacation rental but they bought it!”
We were quiet for a moment and then I spoke again,
“Do you think we’ll have to call them Mom and Dad?”
“No.” Kate was sure, “They’ll understand why we might not want to.”
“Yah.” I rolled over and cuddled into my blanket. Despite what I thought of the situation, it was real and I had no power to stop it. “Kate.” I whispered once more.
“Uhuh.” She answered,
“Did she say they will live by the ocean?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well, I guess that will be fun.”
“Yah, I suppose so.”
I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the ocean. I’d only seen it once when Kate and I were toddlers, before the twins were born. And except for pictures, I didn’t remember it.
Well, I thought sleepily, the ocean will be fun. Since this is happening I might was well make the best of it!
We met Ana and James the next day and I think both sides were actually impressed. We all went away talking about them and we were excited when we saw them again, even Pearl was. We called them Ana and James, so they were like friends more than replacement parents. But meeting them changed our views a little.
We learned they had already spent five months preparing to adopt without even knowing if they could. And they were preparing to go into many more months, even years worth of paper work to actually adopt us!
And in fact that is what they did! The next few months we saw them more and more yet we did not go to live with them. We were told there was a certain amount of paper work and legal matters that had to be done first to insure it was all safe and in our best interests!
But, after one month, we went to live with them in their little house for two weeks. They had not yet moved to the ocean but they were still preparing too. They were moving in four months. And over that time we got to live with Ana and James a total of two months. But, a week before they moved, we were legally able to live with them for good. Though we weren’t yet adopted those steps were coming next.
That night, the first night we when we had finally moved in, we all ended up in Kate’s room. She had her own room while I shared with Pearl, who did not want to be alone, and the twins shared a room as they always had.
“Hi, Kate.” I noted as I came into her room where she was brushing her hair.“Hey.” She smiled as I came in and sat on her bed. “What do you think about Ana and James?” I wondered, as she kept brushing her hair.
“I like them.” She stated quietly, but not super excitedly. That was all she said because just then in came Pearl.
“Hi. I can’t sleep with you gone, Jordan.”
“Well, come on in.” I told her as she climbed up beside me.
“What do you think, Jordan?” Kate questioned.
“I’m actually happy. They might adopt us.”
Pearl nodded, “But Ana is still Ana not Mommy.”
“She’s not replacing Mommy, she just another Mom.” I decided, “We get two instead of one.”
Pearl nodded, but before she could answer in came Rhyan and Scott.
“Hey.” They grinned, “We’ve been thinking and wanted to talk.”
Kate laughed and set her brush down on the dresser, “Well, I guess you’re all here so it must be a sibling meeting.”
“I guess so.” We agreed. Then Scott and Rhyan plopped on the floor while Kate joined Pearl and I on the bed.
“I guess we all like Ana and James?” She wondered.
“Yah.” We decided, “We do.”
“Then why are we all here?” She wondered.
Scott looked at Rhyan, Pearl looked at Kate, and I looked at the floor. No one said anything for a long moment. I contemplated her question and tried to unwind my crazy feelings. Why had I come to talk to her, was I sad to be adopted? No, I was sad to need to be adopted in the first place.
I was sad to think of how different my life was going to be. Less than two years earlier it had been just me, my siblings, and parents traveling the U.S. Then suddenly it was just us kids and we discovered we had no relatives to take us in. And, all at once, there we were, new parents, new house, and a totally new life.
“It’s just scary.” I breathed, “We. . .we are supposed to trust these people who are so different than Mommy and Dad. We’ll, we’re supposed to be at home, and really. . .we’re not. I mean the world’s big and scary especially when you’re not really sure if you’re home.”
“Yah.” Pearl echoed.
“I’m scared to trust them.” Rhyan decided.
Kate sighed and wrapped her arm around me, “I see why we’re here. But, remember how much they’ve already done for us? Why would they give us up now? Besides, we have our promise! And when I’m with you all I’m home!”
“Hey!” Rhyan exclaimed, she was often coming up with ideas, “Let’s repeat that promise we made, ok?!”
“Yah, let’s do. We are always home with each other.” Scott noted.
“Yep.” I grinned and then stood up. “Come one, let’s renew the vow.”
We got up and stood in a circle, first Kate, then me, then Scott, Rhyan, and Pearl. We put our fists in the middle. Then using our right fists we each grabbed our own left arm. Then I grabbed Kate’s right arm, she got Pearl’s, and so on until we were all linked together. Then solemnly, and rather quietly because we were supposed to be asleep, we stated,
“We are siblings. We always shall be, our hearts united so lovingly. No matter where you go or I might be, we still love each other for eternity.”
That was the vow I had come up with when Kate decided we needed something to remember on the hard days. It had always kept us up and reminded us we were home.
But, what would really show whether we were home or not was still to come. In fact, that entire summer would prove if we really were home, not just with our siblings but with the two people who had adopted us. An adventure made its way into our lives somehow. It taught us a thing or two that summer but most importantly it helped us find home. And it all started with the house.
I’ll never forget when we turned in the lane and there it was. We had been busy all day. The house we were moving to was already furnished. But, Ana and James still had some furniture they were taking to it. They hired a moving truck to take furniture, decorations and other things to the house. We also packed most of our clothes into suitcases and stuck them in the truck.
Then we loaded up the rest into the suburban and drove off. Ana and Jame’s old house had been twenty minutes east of the orphanage. We had driven to the orphanage first and given everyone final goodbyes. Up until we’d been adopted we’d seen them almost every week but we would no longer.
Then we’d headed off, and driven forty miles to the coast and we’d taken the ten minute drive on bridges to the island. And there was the ocean. Though Ana said it wasn’t the complete ocean, it was just a natural canal between the island and the mainland, I still loved it! But, I was able to see land the entire ride!
At last, however, we reached the island! We drove twenty-five minutes and finally reached our town. It was quaint and exciting but it was the house that joyed us most!
It was a tall, yellow house that stood shining in the sun. Other colorful houses sat about it, but it stood out as gorgeous. We pulled up, parked, and all stared in excitement at the steps leading up two stories to the front door.
To the left was a garage and a door to the ‘basement’, really the ground level. To the right was, to my great shock, a pool! Surrounded by a white fence it lay, sparkling and shining in the afternoon sun! The house had two decks, a second story deck and a third story deck. And like most beach houses it was built up, not out, so it was taller than it was wide!
I took it in while my heart beat in quick little thumps, it was two beautiful to imagine! Then, to the garage we went, and we step inside. Magic seemed to fill it from the first step. It was so clean and beachy and, sweet. From the garage door a hallway, with one door along it, lead to an open room. That room was a kitchen and a lounge.
But, Scott and Rhyan, who’d asked all about the house, went rushing into the first door and found what they wanted! A bed room, with a bunk bed! They claimed it immediately. Then Pearl found it had a trundle bed so she announced she would sleep there too!
Then, while the twins figured out the fuse-ball table, the rest of us headed up stairs. The second floor had a deck and three bed rooms. Kate quickly claimed the biggest room there, I didn’t mind because I didn’t really want it. It had it’s own bath room and opened to the deck which was cool, but it was too big for me. There were two other bed rooms there, one for me and one for Pearl. But, Pearl had already decided she’d like to sleep in the trundle bed in the twin’s room so I got to pick my room.
On the second level the wall opposite the stairs had three rooms. The farthest left was Kate’s, then the bathroom and the second bedroom. Along the right wall, where the stairs went up, was one door, it was the door to the third bedroom.
So there I was at the right corner, looking from room to room, trying to decide, and I was loving every second of it! I was getting to choose my own room! In our old house Kate and I had shared, and in the camper we didn’t have a certain room, and besides that we’d all been stuffed in one room at all the orphanages. At the time we’d been glad to be together, but by then I was ready for my own space!
One room was darker inside, it seemed like a cozy place to hang out whenever I wanted. It had neat decorations, the bed spread was blue and navy with boats and anchors on it. I loved it’s anchor lamps and the pictures in it.
But the third room, the one beside the stairs, was brighter. It had one orange wall and sea shell decor. The bed spread was blue, turquoise, and orange with fish, sea horses, and shells on it. Plus, I loved the lamps and the big windows.
As I looked from room to room my heart began to talk, it was noticing details, and reminding me of what I loved. And I began to know which one I would pick. After a few minutes Ana appeared,
“Well, have you decided what room you want?” She wondered pausing beside where I stood looking in at the third room.
“Yes.” I grinned,
“Which one?” She wondered.
“Guess.” I prompted.
She took a long look in each room then came over to where I stood watching her, “This one.” She pointed to the third room, the colorful one.
“Yah.” I nodded, excited she’d guessed right, “I love it!”
“I’m glad!” She smiled, “I like it too!”
“Hey, let’s go see the upstairs.” Kate announced, coming up right then.
“Yes, that’s what I was coming down for actually.” Ana noted, “Would you girls like to go to the store later, we need to stock up on groceries. Also, the truck will be here soon.”
“Yah, I’d love to go!” Kate decided, “ I’d like to get that new computer charger I’ve been saving up for.”
“I’ll go, I want to see what it’s like.” I agreed. My older sister was a electronics whiz but I, on the other hand, loved to find the stories in life. These factors actually worked quite well together and she kept my computer running so I could keep on typing and learning!
“Alright, we’ll probably head to the store soon, I’m gonna go tell the twins.”
“Ok.” We agreed and headed up the steps. There was a set of steps, then a landing and a complete U-turn for the next set of steps for every floor. There were two landings and four sets of steps!
“Wow! There are a lot of stairs in this house!” Kate wheezed.
Uhuh.” I groaned, “We’ll get our exersize in!”
“Ugh!” She sighed, laughing, “I guess we will!”
When I reached the top of the steps, I stopped and looked all around. To my left was a living room area, two chouches and several chairs filled the it. They all faced a nice sized TV, which was in the corner of the back wall and left wall. Along the back wall, where the stairs came from, was a window. Then the left wall had a patio door to the deck.
To my right was a wall with bins for storage and a doorway to Ana and James bedroom. They had their own bathroom, but there was also a ‘public’ bathroom, as we called them. Directly in front of me was the kitchen, it had an island, with stools, a sink, a big fridge, but not a ton of counter space! Left of the kitchen, beside the living room, was a octagonal table and left of that table, in it’s own little room, was the dining table!
“Well, how do ya’ll like the house?” James wondered, he had just came out of their bedroom.
“It’s pretty neat.” Kate announced.
But I did not answer, I had been starring out the door to the deck. Slowly, I headed through the living room, I rolled the porch door opened and stepped onto the deck. Salty air tickled my face, I smelled a beachy smell, the air was warm, yet misty. But, what I noticed most was the roar, not a roaring wind as I had heard so often before, but a roar of waves, waves crashing against the beach. And there, on our deck, I saw my first glimpse of the mighty Atlantic. I starred for only a second before I was pounding back through the door!
“Can we go see the ocean!” I cried to Ana, who had just appeared from the steps.
“Yes, of course!” She exclaimed, “Why, I forgot that y’all haven’t seen it before!”
“Goodie!” I cried and headed for the basement. Kate and Pearl followed going almost as fast as I was. We snagged the twins by exclaiming “We’re headed to the ocean!”
We all grabbed flip flops or sandals and headed out the door with James and Ana close behind. Kate grabbed her camera from the vehicle and Ana did too. Then we headed past our pool, (we all murmured excitedly about it) then we crossed the sand path and reached the board walk. The wind was teasing our hair and Ana laughed,
“I forgot how the wind howls at the beach just like it does in the prairie!”
“I like it.” I grinned, “It’s one thing that is always sure!”
Ana just laughed.
Our flip flops sounded hollowly on the board walk as we traipsed past the two houses that would be our neighbors. Like all the beaches near there, a sand dune with little grass separated us from the beach. It was actually nice to have the dunes. They kept the sand from blowing all over and made it much more peaceful and quiet at the houses.
The twins and Pearl raced ahead as we neared the beach, but I decided not too. Kate readied her camera and suddenly Ana challenged James to a race and off they dashed. Kate hurried forward too, wanting to get some pictures, so I was all alone when I crested the hill.
And there it lay. More like there it was, for it was not laying quietly! A great, grey ocean pounded against the shore, mist rose above it and the air brought the noise and smells straight to me!
“Oh!” I breathed, “Oh!” It was not what I had imagined, it was twenty times better! It was so magestic, so powerful! I’d been expecting a quiet little ocean with little kids in swimsuits swimming in it. But no, it was strong, mighty, thundering, and it was beautiful! I gazed at the ocean in a mixture of awe and fear, yet I knew I loved it!
Slowly I headed forward. I reached the sand and grinned as it scratched my feet. Pretty soon I realized what a pain it was to walk on sand with shoes on, so I kicked my shoes of by all my siblings discarded sandals. The sand was hot, and it felt good for the air was almost cool!
I looked out over the sea, there were boats on the ocean and people walking on the shore. I saw James and Ana leaded the twins and Pearl into waste deep water. Kate was still taking pictures, but she was in ankle deep.
The waves rushed in then scurried out, then changed their mind and charged back towards me! I smiled at the seagulls running about the shore and watched the people in the water. Then, suddenly, all my dreams of wanting to surf, see dolphins, and swim in the ocean came alive and I wanted to touch the sea.
So forward I went. I watched as the foaming waves crashed and boomed, and I stepped tentatively towards them. I reached wet sand that felt good as it squished through my toes, and then I saw it, a little wave washing up towards me! The water touched my toes and then scurried away in a line of silver bubbles. I grinned and took in a deep breath, it was so beautiful! I gaze again at the beach again, noticing the salt air, the sounds, and the glorious picture it made. And I realized something,
“I might not be at home yet with Ana and James,” I decided, as I watched them diving and swimming in the surf, “but I defiantly agree with their choice of where to live. There’s a chance, just a chance, that this place could be my home!”
And with that thought I dove into the sea, for the first time in my life. And when I came up shaking my hair out of my eyes and laughing as the water pounded me, I remembered my siblings were there with me. In that moment I was sure it could be home, at least for awhile. I’d never lived in one place more than four months and like my parents I wasn’t sure if I ever could settle down and live in one place forever, it just didn’t seem safe enough to do so,
“But for now,” I decided, “for now, I think we’ll like it here. I think we’ll like it really well!”