I was 15.
I couldn't take it anymore.
I'd planned my departure over a couple of weeks. I'd met this guy through friends who was, basically, our drug dealer. He sold acid. It was 1973.
When I told him of my home life, he threw me a life-line. He said, come stay with me.
So I did.
I stashed stuff in the laundry room of our townhouse complex in the Ottawa suburb of Bell's Corners, over the course of a couple of days. I took funny things. The iron. My stuffed lion, that I'd had since I was 5. My jeans that were banned from the house. Money from my mom's wallet.
The last I ever saw of my mother, she was passed out in her chair in the living room. It was 11 pm. I was sneaking my suitcase out to the laundry room. She woke up as I opened the front door, and said, "Tesa?" I said, hiding the suitcase behind me, "It's ok, mom. Go back to sleep." And she did.
I left and I never went back. I didn't even know she had finally succeeded in committing suicide in 1975 until a year later. I finally wrote home, and said, oh look! You have a two-yr old granddaughter! My dad wrote back, saying, your mother is dead. When I got the news, I was numb. Who wouldn't be. I was 17, I had a two-yr old daughter, I was in a horrible, loveless relationship with a self-absorbed drug addict whom I allowed to make me feel so small, that I was barely breathing.
Dark years followed. I left him, and the drugs. I went back to school, got my diploma, tried as best I could to raise my daughter, tried to stay away from drugs, and mostly succeeded, found a career in music I loved, and made tons of mistakes and bad judgment calls.
How I wish I could go back and be a better mom. I wish I had said goodbye to my mom.
Now I am a grandmother. I still work in music, sort of. But things have gone bad here, and I find myself in the same emotional space as I was 38 years ago.
This scares the hell out of me, because it means I'm about to do something radical to change my life. I used to like the life I had here.
But I don't anymore.
I love my daughter, but we don't get along. I adore my grandchildren, but of course they have their own lives.
So I think they'll be fine without me living in the same city as them.
I thought my three good friends.... would have understood better. But all three also have their own lives and loves and problems, and all three have said, I'm sorry, I can't help you with that, when I reached out.
Time to downsize. Time to minimize.
Time to begin again somewhere else. Time to try to not make the same mistakes.
Mind you, I'm getting kind of old for that.
Still, Hawaii sounds really nice, doesn't it?