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Friday, August 15, 2014

Driving Ben Lomond

I am still very sad over Robin Williams' death.  Today, his family stated that he was in early-stage Parkinson's.  Plus, his heart surgery apparently contributed to his depression.

He was human, like every one of us.

I will probably write more about him as time goes on.  It is all such a tragedy.  He was certainly in a very high-risk category.

The terrible events in our country right now, especially in Ferguson, weigh so heavily on me.  I fear for our young people (the young man murdered in Ferguson was on his way to college and so excited to be getting an education.  His family has emphasized that he was not a troublemaker in any way.  I am heartbroken for his family and friends, and the horror of what our country is coming to).

Perhaps writing about this young woman's death eight years ago might help shine some light in the world.  I drove through Ben Lomond tonight, up to the turnout at Love Creek Road, also through Asha's neighborhood.  She chose a place to live that was quite near the McClish household.  I wonder if that was deliberate, or just chosen because it was close to work, or both.  I am not sure she really had an ongoing relationship with McClish--seems to me the fling with him was a very limited event.  Apparently Mr. Wonderful wanted her to have an abortion, was truculent and angry with her, etc.  Have to delve into more court records and such before I start to try and talk to people.  I am going to start with people I actually know and fan out from there, keeping in mind always that this book is for Asha, Anina, and Richard, even if I weave my own experiences into it.

I was a single mother briefly with my eldest son before becoming one full-time in 1993, and some of my memories have been triggered by being in Asha's neighborhood.  As he did in 1993, the father of my son refused to pay child support; I had no car, no money, and a little boy to take care of.  I applied for a teacher's aide job at the local middle school (I walked to the interview after arranging a babysitter at my home).  I had not worked in some time, but had experience from work in the same field when I first came to Santa Cruz.  I thought I had nailed the interview, and the school was just a short walk from where I live.  I had also arranged daycare for him; I took the bus to an in-home daycare (run by a wonderful woman whom I came to know later), and then to a local children's center, the very same one Thistle attends today, albeit at a different site.  I enrolled him in the children's center and waited, sure I would get the job--which I did not.

I was terrified, broke, and did not want to tell my family in Los Angeles about all the stuff going on with me.  I ended up going on welfare and food stamps, and this kept a roof over our heads.  I still had childcare for my son; it turned out I could work one afternoon a week at his school and get one afternoon of childcare free.

Being taken back to those days begins to force me to look at the role domestic violence has played in my life, even to the present day.  I can look at the fear of those early years now with some detachment.  I was a 23 year old trying to be on my own with the child whose life I had sworn to protect, and did, honestly, not a very good job of...but he has grown to be a fine man, anyways.

I guess my point tonight is that I am trying to remember what it was like to be afraid, alone, and pregnant, as I was at 22 here in Santa Cruz.  Asha was so lucky to have a husband who adored her and who said he would have raised the child no matter who the father was.  I wish I had known there were such good people in the world, back then.