Holy shit. So we talk some more and because I've got my own rules to follow I tell her I'll try and if I do I'll pass along her number but I can't give her any more information than that. But inside I'm freaking out. I have to find this dude. Before we hang up she asks me why we have so many homeless people where I live and I ask her what state she's in and I tell her a whole lot of folks without homes live there too. She tries to wrap her head around this, it's become personal now and she's read it in black and white.
So I strike out in the first logical places, he's been gone for months. So I do some deeper digging, I contact public entities and some private, I beg and I tell them about the call. I say I know it's unusual but what if it's true. 20 years is a long time. Folks concede. They go one extra mile. Eight hours later I hit paydirt. Someone knows him and will get him to call me. The underground community moves a mountain.
10 minutes later my phone rings. I am all of a sudden awkward, is this welcome news or not and I don't know so I just say it. A woman, she called me and said she's your daughter and she's been looking for you for 20 years. Yes, he says. Yes. Quiet. He's gruff and I can't read him, not even close. Is this ok I ask and he says I've been looking for her too. Nothing else. I tell him I have her number and he fumbles for a pen, I can hear it now, he's nervous, he can't find a pen and he's nervous.
Take your time, man. I am leaning back in my chair with an enormous grin. I've been looking for you all day so I'm cool, just take your time. Thank you he says. I want more but I don't get it and as we hang up I know it's none of my business but for 8 hours I've owned this, I've single point focused on finding this man.
I happen to be heading off to meet some workmates for dinner, I arrive at the noisy bar late and grinning, I say you won't believe this fucking story and they listen and applaud and we drink a toast. As we are waiting for the table my phone rings and I look down, it's the guy calling me back.
I grab my phone and run outside. I answer it and he says I had to call you back and thank you and tell you I just called her. We just spoke after all this time and I was so nervous and I'm just calming down now. She doesn't remember that we met when she was a baby, she doesn't think we ever met but we have.
Well, I said, I'm crying a little bit now, she said it's been twenty years.
It's been twenty four years two months and nine days. I've counted every single day since I've seen her last but she doesn't know that. I have grandkids. I can't believe it, I can't believe this is happening. Thank you. And he goes on to tell me how this happened, the sad and painful journey and the terrible mistakes he's made and all of it together and we talk of second chances, of hope, of what can be done now and perhaps how we can help and we hang up with a promise to connect again in a few days. And then I turn and look at all the people going in and out of the restaurant, the glamour girls and the kids, the older couple on a date in their fancy car running the valet in the heat and I lean back and smile because today was a really, really good day.