They were twins. Identical twins. Looked exactly alike.
But they were as different as night and day.
Their names were L and R.
It was impossible, even for me, to keep them straight.
It was only after R would disappear that I knew for sure who was who.
L was a homebody. R was full of wanderlust.
The first time R ran away I thought for sure that L would spend the rest of her life an orphan. It was 5:02 AM. I was 57 people deep in line in the Phuket, Thailand airport. I reached for my ear and gasped.
R was gone.
She must have been hiding at the hotel we had left two hours earlier.
But I had hope. My friend Bob, who had a later flight, was still at the hotel. I frantically called him but his phone was off. I then called the hotel, praying that the operator could speak English. To my relief, the operator told me that they had found the little runaway and would hand her over to Bob when he checked out.
After a close call, the twins were reunited.
It was about two months before the next "incident". I was in Louisville visiting my sister. The girls were asleep on the bathroom vanity. At least I THOUGHT they were asleep. I actually witnessed R's escape. She dove head first into the gap between the vanity and the wall.
I assembled a search party, bringing together the best of the best. And high tech equipment such as mirrors, magnets, wire hangers, and duct tape. Unfortunately for me (and L), R was free once more.
About two months later my sister found the little fugitive while doing a bathroom remodel. R arrived home via first class mail.
I talked to her about her behavior until I was blue in the face. I thought I had made headway.
I was in Russia when she made her final flight. We were on a guided tour of St. Petersburg, which required earpieces.
The thing is that I was prepared. I understood how R thinks. Her criminal mind. I knew an earbud could provide an escape route. As a precaution, I placed both girls in protective custody in a zippered pocket of my backpack.
I know what you're thinking. Why punish L? She hadn't done anything.
How goofy would I look with just one earring?
Sure enough, the bitch got away. She made a clean getaway from the backpack. And it was zippered shut.
I asked L how R got away but she was tight lipped. (Probably mad about being locked up.)
I was full of emotion: anger, frustration, despair. But after my second glass of wine my attitude improved. R was gone. I'd probably never see her again.
And I accepted the fact that R is like Curious George. She should be free.
The next morning I took my seat in the tour van, ears naked. I placed my backpack on the floor and saw something out of the corner of my eye.
Yes! It was R. Hiding behind a water bottle. I grabbed her and gave her the biggest hug ever.
And we had a little heart to heart.
Please don't judge. I used to laugh at people who tethered their children in public.
Not no more.