It was a year of firsts. The first time my mom did the grocery shopping she called me from the payphone outside King Kullen to tell me how proud she was. The dinner that night may have been a pint of Cherry Garcia and some spaghetti with a jar of sauce*, but she had done it. In the years before the divorce my Dad had been the grocery shopper, the most nights of the week dinner maker, and always the highway driver. I remember the first time she drove the two of us out to my grandmother’s on the North Fork. The merge onto the LIE from Deer Park Avenue was something she never had to do in that old life of her and my Dad, me and my brother. In this new life the responsibility was hers, I was too young to drive, and instead of staying home and accepting that she was scared, we did it. She picked me up from lifeguarding class on a cloudless Friday afternoon, windows down, Indigo Girls blasting, and we merged. I loosened the seatbelt and turned all the way around to get a better view.
“Slow down, not yet, slow, slow, ok go go go merge merge merge!”
She slammed her foot on the gas and it felt metaphorical even in that minute, even then with no presence of afterthought to help it along. I knew as we sped through the cars with the volume up and our voices blending with the wind from the open sun roof that we were going to be ok. I knew we had passed some test, some sort of challenge for how we were going to move through this new world. And we would do it together. We didn’t always play nice or fair, there would be plenty of angry hang ups and emails and words we wished to take back along the way, but she was, will always be, mine.
"...chase all the ghosts from your head, I'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed, smarter than the tricks played on your heart. We'll look at them together then we'll take them apart, adding up the total of a love that's true, multiply life by the power of two..."
*disclaimer: The Ben & Jerry's for dinner years were short lived.