By Venessa Ann Schwarz

 The only life Abby knows is in Texas. So when Dad suggests a move back to New York it sends the family into a tailspin. With a big Italian family of aunties and uncles on both sides, they hash it out for several weeks. Hopefully, cousin Louis’ step-dad Bart will hold up the move. He’s a Texan. Born and bred. He’s never been to New York.

Still, one moonlit night the decision is made. Abby can’t believe it. Brooklyn may as well be on the moon. Because she can’t think of any place farther away from home.

 The night she leaves Texas, Abby is stunned by news from Marty. Marty is Louis’ best friend. He doesn’t know it. But he’s Abby’s sweetheart. It’s a secret. Really. But Marty has news. It seems her friend Molly is in trouble. He has a note from Molly with a message: My mom died. Then something unbelievable happens. He kisses her.

 Driving down Interstate 10 toward Van Horn is surreal. Yet Abby has no idea what’s to come. She’s still reeling from the news. And Marty’s kiss. The three-vehicle caravan of aunties, uncles and cousins pass the Texas border into Arkansas. Outside a small farm town named Hope, her Volkswagen van topples off a bridge. They bounce and crash and roll down a high grassy slope. Abby is thrown from the van. For sure, she was a goner.

 But they lived. THANK GOODNESS.

 Across the Brooklyn Bridge, they arrive in a van that looks and sounds like a Whistling Teakettle with duct tape all around it. How embarrassing! As she heads toward Columbia Street, Abby realizes she’s like Dad. Brave. Her new experiences have taught her that.

 There’s one thing Abby comes to know for sure. A swarthy Italian girl with a Texas accent doesn’t quite fit in Brooklyn. She’s a Texan. And even after everybody in the family has seemed to move on, she can’t do it. She can’t get unstuck from Texas. And she doesn’t even try.

 Something happens. Little cousin Annie loses her red galoshes in front of the Plaza Hotel. She screams to walk barefoot on the sidewalk. It gets Abby thinking. Annie can’t walk barefoot on the sidewalk for lots of reasons. First it’s too cold. Second it’s too dirty. And third she’ll be looking down the whole time. Watching her feet.

 Is that what Abby was doing? She knew it. It was. With cousin Louis as her accomplice she devised ways to trick her family into moving back to Texas. So she instigated THE PLAN. But unfortunately it backfired. It was time to stop looking down.

 Once she lets Texas go, wonderful things begin to happen. The moment she learns the lesson of letting go, she can’t believe it. Everything goes topsy-turvy. She figures that’s how life is. One lesson learned, another ready to take its place. And that was okay. She went full circle and then back again. Now she was ready for anything.