The never-ending process of scanning old pictures into the computer is bittersweet. It reminds me of people I have long forgotten and how incredibly HARD it was to raise two kids by myself. It also makes me face reality on some REALLY bad decisions I made when I was younger and much more impetuous. I have to say that I made some really bad judgement calls while either under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or both) or so many of them in just wanting to be loved. Thank God (and that guardian angel who is always flying right behind me) everything turned out fine-it could have gone south at any given moment. There were a few times I really did wonder if I was going to make it out alive (as my head bounced off a wall or a door or a fist..) but I truthfully didn’t think I would live as long as I have. Live Hard, die young and leave a great looking corpse, right? Then I had the kids and suddenly it really wasn’t all about me, anymore….
So I realize this is kind of starting in the middle, but that’s where I am in my head. When I moved back to Rolla in 1985, I went to work for my Mom and Dad (sigh, AGAIN) and while I was lucky that I had that option, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I wasn’t going to be able to make it raising two kids (babies, actually. Steph had just started kindergarten and Clayton was 3) on minimum wage and no child support. I was also lucky in the sense that my folks had rental property and rather than have me move back home with the kids-they let me live rent free in a 1 bedroom apartment. It was a win-win actually. I couldn’t have maintained my lifestyle of being 26 and smoking more weed than anyone should smoke in their lifetime and living with my parents who WOULD have totally have had me arrested. But that’s another story. Now I realize that I would have had more money if I hadn’t have had to support the kids AND my weed habit, but you also need to understand that I had a lot of friends who would give me a doob or boyfriends who would give me a quarterpound. I know that’s a lot but it would last me a long time and I had friends that I needed to return favors to. Vicious circle. In later years when I finally DID quit (cigarettes and weed on the same day, thankyouverymuch) I was actually pissed off that it was as easy as it was. I had it built up in my head that I was going to go through hell and I just put it all down and walked away and never looked back-like I did with so many other things in my life. Anyway back to moving back to Rolla, and working for my folks, one day my dad came in in a particularly bad mood. I say particularly, because my Dad was (is) an alcoholic and life sucked for him and everyone around him most of the time. I came in to work one day after stopping at the store to get avacados to make guacamole for everyone and I was running about 5 minutes late, but I worked for my folks so that was ok, right? Ummm, wrong. I walked in the station and my Dad, screamed at me in front of everyone, “Where in the hell have you been?” I started telling him that I had stopped at the store and before I could get two words out of my mouth he picked up this big round keyring with a zillion keys on it and threw it at my head and said, “Get you ass over to Oak Street and show apartment #3″ I blocked the keys with my hand and picked them up, and threw them back at him and said, ” Go show it yourself.” and I turned around and walked out the door and he followed me out the door screaming (nice and professional at a business, huh?) , “If you walk out the door right, now-You’re FIRED” I hollered over my shoulder, “Fuck you-I quit!” At that point I was booking it for my car hoping to hell he couldn’t catch you with me before I got the hell out of there-my Dad in his prime was a force to be reckoned with and even now, a certain look or tone can reduce me to a sniveling 4 year old. He didn’t catch me he stood there and screamed, “If you leave now-I want you out of the apartment by the end of the day tomorrow.” I did some quick thinking (two kids, no money) and decided that it just wasn’t worth putting up with all the bullshit and I drove off. I had worked there for 2 years and it was time to move on. I tried working at “OReilly’s as a parts delivery girl, being raised in a service station AND in Rolla, I know my cars and the parts that make them go. It was a little more than minimum, but not much and after a few months I knew I needed to get a plan and I needed one quick, so I turned to one of the constant things in my life-Hair, Nails, Skin. I enrolled at the “Rolla School of Cosmetology”. Clayton and I started school on the same day. He started kindergarten and I started my career-I was 28 and it was time to grow up and be responsible and put my kids first.