Just over five years ago, I drove my daughter Abby up to Detroit to go through her final orientation process before heading to Japan with the JET program. This is a teacher exchange program. The young people involved leave from the nearest city with a Japanese consulate. I planned to stick around, take her out for a send-off dinner, and drive home, sighing and maybe weeping a little in the manner of mothers everywhere who are sending their children to far-flung places.
Near Detroit, Abby delighted me by wistfully saying, “I wish you could spend the night and see me off in the morning. . .” A couple of phone calls later to postpone some work and take care of our Sheltie pal, Lucy, and we were set.
Abby was booked into the Westin, a lovely hotel right at the airport,
so after her orientation, during which I wandered some lovely gardens, wrote in my journal, and generally enjoyed time off work, we went back, dressed up a bit, and went out for that lovely send-off dinner.
Nope, this isn’t it. This is lunch on the way up. Abby wasn’t sure whether she’d see another Starbucks fancy drink or a burger and fries combo for a couple of years – she had no idea that Starbucks in Kanazawa would become the place where she met others to tutor, knit, and generally hang out. . .
At dinner we talked about everything and nothing, both feeling excited and scared and not wanting the other to see any anxiety, just the excitement. We went out for a lovely stroll, then settled into our room to unwind with TV before trying to get some sleep.
I dozed off about 11, drifting in and out, feeling Abby’s nervous energy nearby. Along about 11:30, I became aware of voices right outside our door. I heard Abby grumble “don’t they know how late it is? Can’t they take it elsewhere?” at the same moment I was thinking those thoughts. We started hearing static-y sounds, and more voices, and I mumbled into my pillow, “you want me to go tell them to knock it off?”
Then we both heard a bunch of static followed by one of the voices right outside our door:
O.K., I’m gonna call it in as a DOA.
I bolted upright and we both flew out of bed just as we heard a firm knock. I threw on a robe and opened the door to one of Detroit’s finest saying, “Ma’am, sorry to disturb you, but we need to ask a few questions. . .”
Yep, a dead body next door.
There are those moments when you know nothing is real and you are just an actor in someone’s crazy play.
This was one of those moments.
Their questions didn’t last long – we hadn’t heard or seen anything suspicious and were no help at all. The hotel needed to find us a new room, which took a little while, and by the time we got settled in, it was 1:30 a.m., and we were both wide awake. So we did the only sensible thing a mother and daughter can do under such circumstances: we painted toenails and watched a couple of episodes of Sex in the City until we managed to get sleepy enough to catch some zzzzzzzzs.
I thought the Westin rather petty when they offered us coupons for free breakfasts rather than take care of our room altogether. Still and all, I was awfully glad I’d been there rather than having Abby face that particular drama on her own, right before moving 9.000 miles away. Whew!
Nothing like starting an adventure with, well, an adventure.