My sister, Amy, and I drove to Gainesville, Fl yesterday with Hugh for a week-long visit. Our plan was to leave Thursday, but when I looked at the weather and saw strong storms all day starting Wednesday evening, we threw everything in the car in 20 minutes and headed down the road.

Hugh was an angel. He slept mostly, played some, ate a lot. Six hours later, we were at our childhood home. Not many people I know have parents that have stayed in the same house their entire life. The paint color changes, the furniture rotates, the appliances upgrade, but the unmistakable feeling of home is embedded in the popcorn ceilings and 70s pink bathroom tile.

My family is kind of strange. When my dad was 10 years old, he and his 11 year old brother took a six-week trip down the Illinois River. Unchaperoned by adults! Grandma and Grandpa wished them well and went about their business without qualms. Dad, an anatomist, merchant marine captain, and gourmet cook, still maintains that let-them-juggle-knives approach to child rearing; Mom is the complete opposite, wanting to know how many times Hugh pooped today. Somehow, they form a chaotic, happy medium.

Hugh and I usually spend the morning in Charleston in the exact same way. Nurse in bed, move to couch, sleep in swing, nurse on couch. This morning, I woke up to dad’s weather system tornado alert going off and when I wandered through the house not finding anyone, I called to learn that Hugh was at the tire store. Why not?

This is how things are the Hollingers. Fresh brewed coffee in the pot from beans that Dad brewed himself in a machine that fills the house with smoke; tornado alarm systems that are somehow linked to Russian radio with wires that trail through the house; and babies on the brink of a world of adventure.

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