On our first night in London, we meet our son in the lounge for martinis. We’ve fled Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He’s got a head full of thick, rambunctiously graying hair even before he hits thirty, which will be next month. In the pocket of his jacket, he’s stuffed a book by George Orwell because tube time is reading time. He’s a historian, packing his brain with what’s left to know. We hug and turn sheepish, first, then rubbery because we are reunited, then peckish since his dad and I haven’t eaten since the airplane and Andrew is always hungry. He sits between us so we can both hear him. It’s hard not to gawk at this human we raised. On the small table, plates of olives, fried fish, scones, and cheddar melties appear. The hotel is near the palace and across from the mews, where horses live in style. Inside, the Queen keeps her preferred dogs, corgies, when any breed would gladly sit at her feet, study her with love-filled eyes.

Next month, Andrew will defend his PhD and he’s having a crisis of intellectual worth. Is his 300-page thesis an info dump, or a dive into fresh thinking? “The latter,” his dad and I assure him, but what do we know? “Did you think you’d be a historian when you were a high school kid in New Orleans?” I ask, because it’s safe to interview an older child. We didn’t know if he’d settle in the arts, journalism, photography, careers his dad and I imagined for him. “I never liked history,” our son says. His story is my story is his father’s story is my father’s and mother’s story: one brilliant teacher opens the door of a room you enter and never leave. And you in turn become that mentor who introduces you to yourself.

“Leaning Forward” – Ink on cold pressed paper –