Fifteen college students gather in a horseshoe of desks. It’s our last meeting of the year.
“What’s your favorite Christmas memory?” he asks.
I look around at the others, waiting for someone to speak up. I’m shy because my story, if I can even think of one, will be lame.
Seconds later, in my mind’s eye, a memory surfaces. It rolls out like an old movie in blurry black and white.
I moved right after the blizzard of ’96. Ridges of gray snow still loomed over the roads. It was so cold our breath crystallized in our mouths before billowing out in frosty clouds. We yanked our jackets tight across our bodies, blasted the heat, and buckled in. We sailed out between those ridges, leaving white puffs of exhaled breath and car exhaust behind.
A family rift fueled my exit. I figured I could live my life, and they could live theirs.
I tried to take control of my life and reverse the pain I felt in my heart, but a cascade of bad choices only layered on the shame. I was building a poor life resume, and my current career choice was definitely not something you write home to mom about. In fact, it was the kind of choice about which you tell no one.
On Christmas Eve, the phone rang. My mom’s voice on the line was direct. “Pick me up at the airport on the twenty-sixth at four o’clock. I’ll be alone.”
How did she get my number?
I borrowed a car and rolled up to the arrivals door as directed, and there she was. She hoisted her bag into the trunk without expression. Or was that a hint of worry trying to camouflage itself behind her narrowed green eyes? Oh well, I thought. Coming here was her choice. I didn’t ask questions. She would just have to deal with what she witnessed.
To read the rest of this story, join me over at The Glorious Table.