It was the summer season of 2001 when I was settling into my own apartment in Caldwell Idaho. I was trying to find my own "American Dream." trying to be tough, and successful all at the same time. When I was asked "Do you smoke?" I would respond quickly "No!" then shrug slightly continuing "Well yes, I mean no, no not really, not every day. Yes I have or I can....but really not often, I do when I feel like it. I guess I smoke when it's a social event to do so. But I don't really like the after taste....though it can relax you holding that cigarette, being still, calming down and smelling that scent. I don't know, I guess I do smoke but I really don't, it's just so bad for you....I am not sure." Then the looks that followed me as I rambled on revealed how much of an odd ball I honestly felt.
When I moved into my own home the whole world was such an unknown place, such a very scary lonely time if I really allowed myself to stop and think about it. Those first adventures I had were some of the funniest moments of my whole life! Maybe that is why in that first year living on my own I kept quoting from "Top Gun", a movie my sister owned that we had watched until we could recite it forwards and backwards. I would mumble to myself so often,
"Crash and burn."
When my sister Dana needed a place to stay I offered her my extra bedroom in my apartment. When we sat outside on the patio smoking, we talked about how hard it was living on your own. How funny it was to see us now trying to find a can opener for some chili or a tuna sandwich. "Damn Woman." my sister would say to me when opening my refrigerator. She had been calling me "Woman" for the last 5 years and it always made me smile. "What's wrong?" I asked her and she came back to the patio with a wine cooler for me. "You don't have shit in your kitchen, where a bottle opener?" I looked at her blankly "A what?" she mumble with the cigarette in her mouth and I blew my smoke out into the night watching it disappear. "I have Orange juice, wine coolers because they come in such beautiful bottles and milk for my cereal." I smiled proudly as if I had such a treasure of foods. Dana paused looking at me as if she worried I may suffered from some mental disorder. "So without any silverware we will have cereal in the morning by drinking from the bowl?" I choked out my laughter from the sweet sugary taste of my wine cooler. "Oh no I didn't even think about that kind of stuff!" I stood up bewildered at this new information and declared I needed to run to Wal-mart. My Sister snorted at me and I felt an overwhelming realization that living on my own was going to take a lot more then some plastic spoons.
A few months later after all my baby like steps through my new life, I began to feel a finical pinch. So I asked my Sister if she was planning on living with me more permanently, because if she was then I could use the help in half the rent. She looked at me as I stuttered this request out, in such a Mothering way. "Now if I started paying rent then you aren't really living out on your own. What would happen if I stop living with you? You wouldn't be able to keep paying for the place like you do now." I sat starring over my hamburger and fries thinking deeply about what she was saying. "You are right!" I exclaimed. "If you weren't living with me right now I would still be on my own, so I shouldn't ask you to start helping out with my rent. That is so true! I wasn't seeing the big picture!" so I went right back to being a happy-go-lucky girl again.
When I got my first power bill I was so thrilled! When I finally had some dishes in my kitchen I was amazed, and when I was able to stay out all night I felt so free. But as I grew to understand the true cost of everything and saw how my home was never the party hub or the oasis I wanted. I reacted quickly by working all the time or trying to be some sort of "bad ass" that could handle everything new coming at me, by cursing a lot I thought it gave me some form of control. Though deep down inside me I knew I was just a Deer in the Headlights. Looking back now I understand some of the best moments in our lives is when we have just a second to decide. Just a second to scream, or to laugh. Just a second to say "Oh Shit!" or "Awesome, High-five it!"
And a life time to grow......