The drive down A1A is always beautiful. It's a leisure drive with an endless stretch of ocean on the side that goes as far as the eye can see. Thankfully, if anyone else is on the road, they're doing the same thing you are - glancing just slightly to the side - so no one is rushing to get anywhere. I wasn't an exception.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, but the destination felt like something to be desired.
I decided to do this, didn't I? I wanted to go, right?
But what if he didn't even live at the last address I had?
I cranked The Beatles louder on my stereo and opened the sun roof.
What if it's weird? What are you even going to say?
It was a hot day and the air wasn't working right, so I needed to at least get somewhere.
Or at least a drink of water.
When I arrived at the address given, an older man with dark skin stared at me oddly, but not menacingly. I guess I was a sight to see. Slightly sweaty from the Florida heat, tank top and shorts with a giant afro puff on top of my head.
I asked if Thomas lived there because of the address given.
He still looked at me oddly and said no.
My eyes fell to the ground and I tried to mask my disappointment. A half hour drive along the coast wasn't a terrible journey. I would get to see it on the way back.
But before I could turn away, he said, "But Sherilynn lives here. You can talk to her. Come on in."
Sherilynn is the mother of my birth father's second daughter. I found out about her when I was 11 on another random journey I took to see him. I wouldn't have found out about her otherwise.
So now I was ushered into a house filled with people I never met who stared at me and called me 'Thomas's daughter'. It felt weird - those words - but I gave an awkward, polite wave and people stared at me in disbelief.
I was the estranged 'daughter'. The first one.
I know that he had several photos of me from when I was a baby, but nothing past that point. In his mind - and probably the minds of those who had never seen me - I was still that small. Or not much older. Definitely not twenty-two.
Or maybe they were just hard pressed to believe I existed. Maybe I became a legend of sorts because when they looked at me as if I was some mythical creature. That story that you hear over and over again, but you don't believe you'll ever see anything like that in real life. Until you do. I was the legend.
Soon, I was embraced by this woman that I never met with her daughter - my half-sister, now eleven - close behind.
"I always wanted to meet you so much!" She cried out, "But he never gave me anything about you. It's like he wanted to keep us separate."
And I believed it.
"I'll call him over."
And with those words, I felt that familiar discomfort bubble up again.