Thursday, June 23, 2016

Leap of Faith: or that time we drove to Chicago with 100lbs of shrimp

The Bare Necessities
When I was little my mom and I lived on a 38 foot houseboat appropriately named “The Bare Necessities”.  She saw its purchase as an act of feminist rebellion after divorcing my father.  She drank a lot of beer and smoked a lot of pot during those early years.  I helped nurse her hangovers with grilled cheese sandwiches made in the toaster oven, while administering BC Powders and Tab.  

The summer before I started kindergarten she realized she had to sober up.  She did it old school:  90 meetings in 90 days.  I would stay with my grandmother while she went to meetings, or join her where I took great joy in reading the 12 Steps at the start of each meeting.  Come Girl Scout cookie time, AA meetings were a gold mine.

Road Trip
After receiving her chip for 30 days of sobriety she decided to put the program to the test – or maybe tempt fate – by driving to a small town just outside of Chicago to visit one of her favorite drinking buddies.  By that time my mom was a single parent supporting us on a public school teacher’s salary.  The summers were always tight.  To fund the trip, she bought a hundred pounds of shrimp from a buddy in the Bayou, knowing she could resell them in Chicago for a profit.  Or at least that was the plan. It was a great idea until one of the ice chests sprung a leak, an unfortunate circumstance only exacerbated by the blistering heat of summer in the South.  It made for a long drive. 

But we made it there and back safely and sober.  Unable rid the car of the rancid smell of shrimp, she promptly traded in the car when we returned.

Leap of Faith
She once sent me a card that said: Faith is believing that one of two things will happen.  That there will be something solid for you to stand on, or that you will be taught to fly.  That summer my mother took a leap of faith.     

This is my daughter’s last summer before kindergarten.  It is the summer I turn 40, the summer I am the exact age my father was when he died, and the summer that marks 10 years since my mother’s death.  I crave adventure now more than ever. 

Part of what motivated my mom to sober up was her desire to be the person she wanted to be.  As I look back on my first 40 years and the people and experiences who shaped my life, I can’t help but also envision who I will become in the next 40 years.

Now it's my turn to take a leap of faith.  I’m going to spend the year being a writer and being a mom, because those are the two things that define me.  I'm going to fill my life with good people, good conversation, and great adventures.  And along the way I hope to make great memories that will color our lives.

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