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  • My mother, Gail, was a gypsy. I mean, in her heart and in her dreams that is who she was. But her gypsy was stuck. Stuck in upstate NY with three jobs and meager pay and two young children. Stuck in the mundane grey reality of a cloudiest city and gross slushy salted roads. Stuck where the spirit has to add color before the world's monochrome sets in all too firmly.

    We did used to travel a lot. Road trips always. Hours and hours and hours spent traversing the eastern United States to visit family and friends. Campfire cookoffs in the Carolinas, towering sights in Manhattan, beautiful houses in Baltimore, her own sweet nostalgia along the South Jersey shore, Ohioan simplicity along western Lake Erie, verdant countryside of Arkansas, jarring oddity of Dallas suburbs. These and many more were the texture of our adventures.

    I think I could read roadmaps almost before I could read books. I've always loved the open road. And my mother's love of the same road. We loved worlds we had never seen and epic landscapes no photo could ever capture. We heard languages in our hearts that our ears had never known.

    And yet, for our gypsies, we never left the confines of the United States together. That is, except, for a few short jaunts through Canada as we drove back and forth to the Midwest. I think we slept in one cheap dirty motel one night near Montreal. And that alone is the extent of our adventure together in other lands.

    She had been to Britain once before. (Just long enough for me to imagine a strained prenatal claim on UK citizenship.) After that, but for that night in Quebec, she stayed within the lines and tended her mundane duties in the way that probably only mothers really understand.

    And then her own mother died. And she got the kind of doctor news that we all fear most.

    And in this ending and malefic context, she somehow found her joy. And her gypsy. And a way. She even found a way to Morocco. Her own Morocco far away from everything she knew. And for a moment she wasn't stuck.

    I wasn't there. I don't really know any of the story.

    For that, I love it more.
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