They were watching Expedition Unknown on The Travel Channel when Sean asked, “Do you have a passport, Elijah?”
Elijah shook his head. “I never expected to go any place where I’d need one. What about you?”
Sean sighed. “I have one, but it hasn’t been out of my bureau drawer since I first put it there. I got one because I had visions of traveling after college, before I started job hunting.”
“Where did you want to go?”
“I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland because it’s where my people come from, but journeying to any foreign land would have been a great adventure for me. I’d even have settled for staying in the U.S. if it was far enough away from here. Vacationing on a Hawaiian island would have been like being in some magical, mythical country, but it never happened."
“Because your Dad got sick.”
Sean nodded. “Sometimes I wonder where I’d be now if I’d let the guy who wanted the property to buy it and demolish the diner. My folks wouldn’t have faulted me for it, but it was part of our heritage, and I knew it would break their hearts to see it go, so in the end, I put aside my own dreams and kept it open. After that there just wasn’t any time for traveling.”
“Are you sorry?” Elijah asked somberly, as if he was dreading how Sean might respond.
Sean was sure he knew why Elijah was asking, but didn’t say so. “In the beginning,” he began, “I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, lamenting what a martyr I was, but then I realized that I really enjoyed working in the diner. I’d done it during summer vacations since I was a kid, but now it was different. Now The Lucky Clover was my place, and being there full-time, I could see how much keeping it open meant to the neighborhood.”
Elijah looked momentarily downcast, but quickly forced a smile. “I like working there, too.”
Sean smiled. “There’s another reason I’m glad I stayed.”
“Yeah. If I hadn’t kept The Lucky Clover open, I never would have met the love of my life.”
Elijah’s smile blossomed, no longer forced, but genuine now, and he hugged Sean. “I’m glad you stayed so we could meet, but I’m sorry you never got to go to the all places you dreamed about visiting.”
“Maybe it can still happen. What would you think about my shutting the diner down for a week and our hitting the road, going as far as my car can take us?”
“I say fuck yes!” Elijah exclaimed with delight, but then an expression of worry came over his face. “But what about Cocoa?” he asked. “We can’t leave her here alone.”
“We could board her,” Sean considered, “or we could rent an RV and take her with us.”
“I like the RV idea,” Elijah decided, “and I bet Cocoa would, too. When can we do it?”
“We’ll have to give that some thought, work out the details, but I promise you, it's going to happen.”
Knowing Sean's promise wouldn't be broken, Elijah said, “Awesome,” then digging his hand into the huge bowl of popcorn on the coffee table, he settled back to watch the rest of the program.
As he watched the travelers on television, Sean mused that there were all kinds of journeys in life, and when he thought about the one he’d set out on with Elijah, he knew that he wouldn’t trade it for the world.