Seven years is a long time.
It's long enough to become the member of the family that can only be looked up to metaphorically. At some point along the way, Oldest, Middle, and Youngest have all felt the need to pull back from a hug to exclaim, "you're so little!" Relatively speaking, they are not wrong.
It's long enough to go from living under the same roof to the closest living most of the year nine and a half hours away and the furthest not living on the same date as the rest of us for most of our overlapping awake hours. The math has become tricky.
It's long enough to have lived a life on the run, full top-secret intrigue that I only once imagined might be real. And if it is, I still can't tell you. That's rule number one. So you'll never know for sure that it didn't happen.
It's long enough to have finally finished all the hidden cookies, both at home and at school, inducing an epic nap in my favorite spot on the sofa. One that makes Rumpelstiltskin look like an amateur. The location of the cookies has changed; the spot on the sofa has not.
It's long enough to not even try to explain or make excuses about where I've been, or more specifically, why I haven't been here. Or why I'm back. Or to wonder if waiting seven years was deliberate; a patient writer looking to reemerge with a clever title for a post.
Seven years is a long time indeed.