Getting back to the story now I should let you know that about three months had passed since my encounter with my favorite hobo, and in that time my family experienced a great loss. However tragic, it was also a blessing in disguise.
My grandmother passed away at the tender age of seventy-five, but not before doing what most parents, both of whom are still alive, not necessarily living together, but alive none the less have a difficult time doing. When she was twenty-nine after being married for ten short years, my grandfather died, leaving her five children between the ages of eight years and mere months. Making a long and incredible story of a remarkable woman painfully short, she passed on with her children by her side. She was the original, hardworking woman who inspired not only me to do great in everyday life but my mother, sisters, and aunts as well. She touched everyone she met and was loved by all. You would have really liked her too.
During her funeral I had to read a passage from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (I don’t know where in the Bible it is either.). It spoke of love as being the ultimate. Basically, if you do not have love, you don’t have shit. Something about standing up there in front of a church full of people who loved my grandmother just as much I had made me feel really powerful. Maybe that was the moment I stopped being an obnoxious teenage and was reunited with my “old soul.”
By the time I said, “This is the word of the Lord,” I knew that by the end of the year I was going to be living in the Big Apple. If my granny had enough will and energy and love to work as a waitress while raising five snot nosed kids by herself, what was me moving to NYC? Beans in my book. She did not give up even when things got a little rough, and neither would I. Besides, if living in New York was something that I have always wanted to do, it was not going to get accomplished sitting around Minnesota day dreaming.
Later that day over little finger sandwiches and fruit punch at my uncle’s home I told my mother I was going to move.
“The Hell you want to do that for?” she asked.
“I have always wanted to, “I replied through sips of pure sugar in a red liquid.
“What is wrong with Minneapolis?”
“Nothing. I just get this feeling that I need to be in New York.”
“Your great-auntie lives in Massachusetts. Why don’t you go and stay with her for a couple of weeks before you go and make any dumb decisions?”
“Because if I wanted to live in a small town in Massachusetts she would be first on my list. I want to live in New York, and I am going to live in New York.” Remember what I said about being and obnoxious teenager? Maybe growing up came later.
“Well if you want my opinion I think it is a terrible idea. In fact, I think it is down right ridiculous.”
“Actually, I did not ask your opinion. I was simply telling you my plans. You know, including you in my life.” Growing up definitely came later
She didn’t have to be happy for me. I did not expect her to. She could have at least supported my plans rather than calling then idiotic. It felt as tho she had called me stupid for even considering moving.
However upset I may have been though, I am also just as stubborn and in an instant, it seemed, I had to prove not only to my mother, but to myself, that I could make this dream become reality. I had to. There was no other option.
Later on in the cab of my dad’s truck, smashed in the middle of me and my mother, on the drive back to their quiet, suburban home I told my pops what I had up my sleeve. Maybe while he was driving wasn’t the best time to have told him such huge information.
“No,” was all he could say for a few minutes. Not a no in the tone of voice I had heard nearly everyday of my teenage years, but rather a soft, choked up and pleading no. I actually saw his grip on the steering wheel loosen and could almost hear his heart break.
“Honey,” he said a few minutes later, after he seemed to regain control of his emotions, “I do not think that is such a good idea.”
“Well obviously!” I nearly shouted, “What parent would think that it is a fucking wonderful idea that their daughter move to the other side of the God damn country, just for the Hell of it?”
“Mary Joan Wesling, do not use such filthy language when you talk about your country!”
“Sorry mom,” I coughed under my breath, “But seriously dad, I have always wanted to live there.”
“Honey the one and only time you have ever been to New York City was when you were eight years old. How on earth could you possibly always want to live there?”
“I don’t know mom, I just have. And by the way, I was trying to have a conversation with dad. I believe you and I have already gone over this subject matter, and I am pretty sure I already know by now that you think is it a damn stupid idea!”
And that was that. The one and only time I ever spoke to my parents about leaving the dumpy, average sized, suburban town of White Bear Lake, everything I had ever known, ended on a slightly sour note. I suppose it was better to have told them. It could have been worse though. I could have just waited and left a note that read, “Moved to New York City. Be back when I am broke, bored or pregnant.”
However, for as much shit that I gave my parents for not supporting my decision vocally, I always knew that they would have my back in any decision I made in life, even if I was on the other side of the country. For the most part, even when I was just a child, my parents have pretty much let me live my own life, within very loose guidelines.
The months between September and January, when I packed my shit up and left town went by all too quickly. The days bled into the weeks, which bled into the months and before I knew it, it was time to go.
One night, about a week before I made like a prom dress and took off, I was hanging out with a friend of mine getting high.
“I do not know if I am doing the right thing, Jak,” I said taking a hit off a multi colored glass pipe.
“Yeah you are. Just put your thumb over the hole.”
“Huh? Oh, no. I know how to smoke pot dude, I just do not know if moving to New York City is the right decision.”
“Right,” she laughed and took the pipe from me, “Why do you say that?”
“Well, how do I explain?” I thot out loud, “The first two lines of ‘Repent Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman were ‘My soul would be an outlaw. I can do nothing with it.’ It goes onto say that whatever his body would do to stop it, his soul would rebel.”
“Okay, you should know by now that when you start quoting from sci-fi picture books that I won’t understand what the fuck you are trying to say. Yes? Now can you give me an example?”
“For example, I started going to school for massage therapy, right. Then my pops gets sent to Spain for fucking Operation Enduring Freedom. If that was not horrible enough, my mom leaves to join him because she cannot live without him by her side.”
“Oh, that is so sweet.”
“It is but, dude, quit parking on the grass, man,” I smiled and took a hit and settled myself back into the seat of Jak’s car, “It is sweet, but my world fell down around me. I was constantly thinking ‘Why stay here when I can go bum around in Spain?’ It seemed as tho the choice was out of my hands. That is when I just up and went to Rota. No reason other than my soul was telling me to go.”
“There is nothing wrong with that.”
“I know but I just quit school and left my little sister to the care of my older sister.”
“Lea may not have necessarily enjoyed living with Ann, but at least you did not leave her up to her own devices.”
“Yeah but nothing dude. Lea was fine and your soul loves you for letting it explore the other side of the world. Damn it girl, is that bowl cashed?”
“Naw, sorry. You are right though. I just do not know if I will be able to do it. I do not know shit about the place other than it is located in New York State.”
“You are fucked!” she laughed.
“Tell me about it.”
“Mare, you are an adventurer. You need more adventure than what Minnesota has to offer.”
“I know. I just do not know how to take the first step. Apparently that is the hardest one to make.”
“You call Neil driving you to New York City not taking a first step?”
“I am just so fucking scared.”
“I think if your soul tells you to do something, your body will find a way,” Jak said after a while, “Being proactive is a much better option than just bitching about it. You will be okay. Trust me, you always are. Once you drive into the city, things will seem much different, and you will soon realize that there was nothing to be afraid of to begin with.”
Jak was a good friend of mine. She would always let me know her opinion on a matter, even if I did not want, or care to hear it. I’ll never forget that night. Due partly to the fact that it was the night I realized that whenever she opened her mouth stupid nonsense about these boys, who only want one thing from her, would come out like diarrhea. She would, of course, give it to them, but expect a loving relationship in return, and be totally shocked every time they would, in one unbelievably callous way or another, turn her down. That is beside the point tho. She did help me make sense of my move and gave me an extra boost of confidence. It is just too bad that people grow apart even though they seemed so close at one point. She was very kind, but too many people took her kindness for a weakness and she has failed to see that. I cannot help her anymore, because I am also one who will tell her what I think on a matter affecting her life, for example, whether or not she cares to hear it. Mostly she did not care to hear it and that is the saddest part of what our friendship had been. Too bad, because she was really a genuinely nice person.