Twenty-four hours of transit, two planes, a train and a truck took me to her home in Kansas; I'd hardly call that next door. And yet, there is an unmistakable familiarity in the feel of her arms around me, her squeal as I lug my bags up the steep stairway, the oval frame that hangs in the doorway, the candle that always burns.
Tell me, can you build a plane that goes faster? An iphone app that makes it possible to step through the hedge fence to her kitchen for coffee?
We sit and consider sisters who live in the same town, attend the same church, shop together at the massive, overwhelming Target Superstore ... and sigh. This one week will have to do - seven days in which to pack a year full of normal life.
I packed two extra boxes coming back, full of baking goods and bits of home, but my niece articulated what I could not:
Would you like anything from Kansas? I asked.
"Just bring Aunt Linda."
But you know, she wouldn't fit.