So now I needed a plan. I had to find a way to stay in Arizona. It wasn’t going to be easy. My brother’s roomate would be back soon and I’d have to vacate his bedroom. I couldn’t stay there in his house. I would have to find a job, find a place to live and then convince my parents that I was going to stay. My brother said I could enroll in college myself and maybe that would make it easier on my parents. He took me to the administration building to get the paper work. I would have to send away to get high school transcripts and then decide on what courses I would take. But then the biggest hurdle of them all. money. and lots of it. and I had none. and I knew my parents didn’t have it and even if they did they would not give it to me to be so far away from them. The thought of me going to college never crossed their minds. It never crossed my mind either. Going to college was for rich kids, not kids like us. I could get a student loan but they would never sign for it. The more I thought about going to school, the less I liked the idea. Go for what? I had no ambitions. I had no idea at all what I wanted to be or wanted to do or what I could do. I never even thought about it. I was never asked about it. I’d get married. I’d work in a factory. I’d have kids...simple story...simple plan. What was good enough for them was good enough for me. What does happiness have to do with it. We’re not happy, why should you be happy..Accept your lot in life. But then I saw life outside our little town and I saw that other people could be happy. and so I needed a plan. A plan that would allow me to stay.
I needed to stay in Arizona. I needed to be free. but then, the phone call came. The phone call that put a stop to any plan. The phone call that put a stop to any idea I had or hoped to have and that phone call stopped me dead in my tracks and tore out from under me the very foundation however weak that was beneath me. The call came from my father on that sultry hot summer night. My mother was in the hospital. She had overdose on barbiturates and was in intensive care in the Psychiatric ward. My father told me that she just could’t take me leaving and not planning on coming home so she took a bunch of pills and he found her unconscious on the floor. He was sending me money to fly home and I was to get on the next plane out of Phoenix or he was going to get the police to come after me. The blood drained from my head. the pain rose up in my stomach. the hollowness collected in my throat. My plan was over. my freedom was over. And my mother laid in a hospital bed and I had been the one who put her there.
The hippie kids piled in the VW van that took me to the airport and to the plane that took me back home. My father was waiting at the gate for me and we drove the long silent ride home through the farmland and the red barns that dotted the landscape. We drove straight to the hospital and went to the bottom floor of the same brick building where I was born. My mother laid weak and pale in the bed but she was alive and she was going to be okay but had to stay in the ward for observation and because it was an attempted suicide she would have to undergo treatment for a few weeks. The days were long and painful for us all...I had an overwhelming sense of guilt. The shame I felt was almost unbearable for me. Then I had to take over at home to wash clothes and give my father his meals and keep the house clean. Also to lie to the neighbors and make up stories of where my mother was as if they didn’t know the truth. I had to go see the parish priest and he told me I had to take care of my mother and honor my mother and I was lucky that she didn’t die or I would have had a death on my conscience. She was going through withdrawals at the hospital so she was always sedated. They wanted to give her shock treatments but my father refused. The recovery was slow but she was eventually allowed to come home. I gladly took care of her. I loved her. I wanted her back home and I wanted to be the dutiful daughter I should have been. and so I was. and I got a job at a factory that made socks driving a forklift truck. 9-5 doing the same thing over and over and over again.
I didn’t like it very much but I didn’t know how to do anything, I wasn’t trained for anything and without any guidance or help I didn’t know there were other things out there. I was a girl that was unprepared for life and unprepared for a future. and so I stayed. and did what I was told. and was happy that at least my mother survived. and so I stayed numb. and worked at a job I detested. and when the day was over, I stayed in my room and Neil Young helped me through and Joni Mitchell helped me through. and I dreamed for something better. but i didn’t expect anything more than what
I was handed my lot in life in the small midwestern town where the lake breezes softly blew through those green elm trees, and the train whistles blowing in the distance meant better things for some but not for me. and my dreams died in that house. but i did as I was meant to, and what was expected of me
and nothing more. and the light in my eyes dimmed. and I soon forgot that western sky and those terra cotta colored hills and the smell of pinon pines and the laughter and that sweet taste of freedom that had so briefly passed through my life. And I carried on that way for over a year. In a numbing job with no future. in a little bedroom in my parents stifling house where the atmosphere depended on my mothers moods and I’d go to the teen bars with some girlfriends and drank too many Champales and got sick and passed out and it was a way to survive the pain and the boredom and the loneliness because I was alone and no one cared for me. my parents did love me. they did care about me. but that is not the
love I needed and wanted. and then I met a boy. The boy.