Passage from “Uprooted” - the Morocco reunion and aftermath
"So, you can see through my family here, an answer to your question, father," Gasson Hasheem said to Stephens as they walked along the Tangier shoreline the next morning. "How I think, where it might lead. You represent that, too."
"I have," Stephens said. "Less so in recent years."
"Yes, but the exposés you were engaged in with Alicia, principally, and Helen, they count for something that way."
"Plus, now you have that buccaneer charisma, with the eye patch. You should continue to wear it."
"We must return. I think you and the others should have an early start. You have decisions to make once you get to Madrid."
"Make reservations to take the high-speed train. I suspect the buses may be crowded with our migrants returning to Spain. Some Moroccan migrant workers along the Spanish coast take a holiday to rejoin their families on the weekends."
Lys and Stephens looked at each other as they walked with the group toward the Tangier ferry slip. I know what's coming, she thought. So does Gil.
Awaad Hasheem and his sister Leila led the way. Family standard bearers, Stephens thought. Gasson walked with Sandra Mills, his arm on Stephens shoulder. On Mills other side walked Rice; on Stephens, Lys. At the customs entry, visitors and hosts embraced. They'd meet again, that seemed certain. There'd likely be a marriage sometime soon, maybe within the year.
As the travelers sat at a table in the ferry's lounge, Rice said to Stephens that she wanted to call SUNY-Oquaga, she had a sabbatical coming, paid, and she'd like to spend some of that time in Rotterdam to work with Mills, offer the workshop that was interrupted by the interstate accident that wounded Stephens and Lys, and to explore directions Europeans are involved in. It felt wrenching, but at her age, it was an opportunity she shouldn't pass up. This was a very serious thing, she knew, given all that happened in the last year. It's a time to explore transformations, directions. For all of them.
Stephens frowned. He walked out onto the ferry's deck, felt the sea spray, and took in the aroma of the Mediterranean. Sandra Mills stood up, left the table, passed through the cabin's doors and joined him, unprompted. She leaned on the rail alongside him, both now dampened by the sea.
"Gil, you've been like a father to me," she said. She put her arm in his. "Less crazy than Helen, for sure, but in your way, as present as she, someone I knew I could rely on all these years. I love you for that and for who you are."
Stephens turned around to face the ferry cabin and viewed their reflection in the windows.
"I'm happy my son and you found each other," he said. "It's not a trite thought. I can't explain it. What finding him, his family, and their acceptance, and you two together mean. And I understand how important Helen will be at this time. It's an odd uncertain moment."
"Maybe it's not as uncertain as it seems."
He smiled. She did too.
"You're too wise," he said.
"I'm getting wet," she said. "Let's go inside."