One Down


Please pardon my absense. It hasn’t been for lack of material. In fact, the key driver of my stories, my oldest, has given me much to work with.

She came to visit about a month ago after being away for a number of months. I helped buy an airline ticket to come visit. The airport was about a two-hour drive from where we live. I live in an upper middle-class neighborhood and like things neat and tidy. Everyone has a schedule and everything has its place. This is not the case with the oldest child. God love her. She claims that she is the only thing that is fun in my boring and banal existence on earth.

When I picked her up from the airport, she smelled and looked terrible. I may or may not have shared this with her. I may or may not have mentioned how wrinkled her clothes were. I asked if she slept in them. She did. She further offered that she worked at a restaurant with the same clothes on before sleeping in them. Gotcha.

When we got home, I led her straight to the bathroom for a thorough scrubbing. I suggested bleach.

Did I mention that she painted her head bright red? Did I mention that we are conservative white people? She is beautiful. Every feature looks like it was custom made. She has spent the past two years trying to ammend this. She has added a couple of tatoos…..rather like putting a bumper sticker on a Bentley. She has more holes in her ears than classes completed since beginning college.

She has moved North for a change. She took a ‘friend’ with her. This friend ‘lost his balls’ while he was there and had to come back home to the comfort of his mommy. My parenting may or may not have caused this child to be overly direct and insensitive. It’s a bit of a family trait. She now has three jobs and more friends there than I do in a place I’ve lived for over twenty years. She’s charming and delightful. I am neither. But, she gives me anxiety. She has a death wish. She tried swimming across a frozen lake last Thanksgiving….readers may remember this story. She hiked in the Arizona mountains with insufficient water, alone. She told nobody where she went. She nearly passed out when park rangers found her. They did two hours worth of ‘traige’ before assisting her back to the parking lot. These are only highlights of a very decorated ‘career’ of crazy.

She spent the trip mostly away from us. We were mostly at each other while she was here. She got lost and had my two younger ones with her. She no-showed us a few times. She fought with her younger sister. She taught her brother to climb a mobile ladder stacked atop a mobile table to access our slanted tile roof. Why? It’s fun! The part of my body that generates anxiety could not wait for her to shuttle back North! Then she missed her flight. I nearly lost my mind! I needed her gone!

I really didn’t enjoy our visit, but we did have a lovely dinner one night, just the two of us. So, it wasn’t a TOTAL disaster.

Fast forward about a month to now…………she drove down in her ‘new’ (circa 1995-ish, barely street legal POS with ten million miles and more rust than paint) car to pick up the family dog….that’s another blog in itself. My anxiety was just returning to normal when she showed up. Her shirt was open on the sides….a rather interesting fashion choice for a conservative, Christian family. And she had an attitude. I may or may not have told her that she dressed like a ‘hooker’ and her friends were mostly ‘criminals’. When she got ink on her hands while helping her sister assemble a new quill pen, I may have mentioned that it would make fingerprinting more efficient for the cops later that night.

I realized that I didn’t want her to leave and not come back (still wondering how I came to this conclusion), so I tried to turn things around by being nice…….I’d not tried for awhile.

We had a great night. She came back again last night for a birthday dessert. We all had fun. She came back this morning to meet me for breakfast and to gather the dog.

Now that she is gone, I miss her. She’s been gone on-and-off for over a year and it has never bothered me. Now that she left in her old jalopy and sent a picture of herself and my dog driving away, I feel overwhelmed with sorrow. Today is her 20th birthday and she is driving back to North Dakota. Now I really do miss her, overwhelmingly so.

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