(No person is your friend-or kin-who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Alice Walker)
She’s not really. A Snarl, that is. She’s a peach, a gem, a blithe spirit, my joy. Way back when she had a brief period of infant colic we alternately called her either Crabigail or Abisnarl and then it got shortened and stuck as The Snarl. It’s definitely been fitting at certain stages and still is at moments, but by and large, my amphibious alien child is my delight.
She’s taken to Florida in a big way. This seems like heresy to my Mid-Western blood but then I remember that she seems to have protoplasmic material heretofore unknown, coursing through her veins. It allows her to breeze through foreign languages and complex mathematical theories with ease, live underwater and shamelessly eat with the homeless when necessary. Not my blood.
Last Friday (Veteran’s Day) before we arrived she called and wondered if I knew "is there any money hidden at our house" in Florida. (She lives in a little pool house apartment kitty corner from our place and, in a pinch, she can go over and get things like laundry detergent, etc.) I said no, why?
She said that with the weekend looming she had 14 cents. She had lost her ATM card and the replacement had been sent to Michigan and she didn’t realize until too late it was a bank holiday and she was down to her last envelope of Quaker Instant Grits. In true tough love fashion I said, "It’s going to be a long weekend." (I’m not about to start using Western Union at this point in their lives.) She was cheerful enough and said, okay! see you Tuesday morning!
When we got here Tuesday I asked her how she made it through the weekend without food or money. Friday, she and her best friend checked the events board and found a campus club they had no interest in joining but was giving out free pizza at a get acquainted event. Saturday morning, she went to the downtown Saturday morning market and saw a sign that said "Free Food." This seemed Heaven sent to her, since she was getting a little hungry and she followed the line. Halfway through the line someone placed a toothbrush on her empty tray and said, "Bless you." Abby said that was her first hint something was amiss but then they started filling her tray with fried chicken and potato salad and veggies and she was just plain thankful. At the end of the line someone put a stick of deodorant on her tray and said, "Bless you." It was at that point that Abby took a closer look around and realized she was in a line for the homeless and indigent. She said, "Mom, I didn’t know what to do. My tray was already loaded up plus I needed the toothbrush. And I was so hungry." I asked her what she did do and she said, "I looked up, smiled and said Amen!" And then she sat down and ate with the homeless. Sunday she had instant grits and Monday the bank opened so she got out her remaining cash and splurged because, after all, we were coming to the rescue on Tuesday.
She’s doing well in her classes and says she doesn’t feel at all homesick until she sees us. Last night she confided that this was the best of both worlds- living on her own in her own place, going to school and stopping by on her bike to chat with us, be taken out to dinner and so forth. She likes having us come to Florida. Today we have business to conduct; we’re trying to get her completely independent, at least in the eyes of Uncle Sam. This year she is paying out of state tuition- I could buy my own Leer jet for less. By next year she will have eaten through all of her education trust I set up when she was but a babe so she needs to be "in state." To that end, all banking goes through her accounts, she has her own Florida license (which she lost with the ATM card. sigh.), voter’s registration, etc.
This is all somewhat confusing to a child who has viewed herself as totally independent since about 16 months of age and isn’t bothered with life’s finer details in any case. She’s been running away from me since she discovered the bucket swings at the park across the street soon after she could walk. Why be tucked into bed with a story when you could escape the bath- run,run,run- and swing, tummy down, buck naked and watch the night sky come and go with every kick? Why live in the house and watch Mr. Roger’s when you could shimmy the large oak and live on the garage roof with your stuffed animals, your books and a jar of peanut butter?
Over the next few months, Abby is going to get certified for shipwreck diving- a specialty certification that isn’t covered by all the others. She would like a heavier gauge wet suit for Christmas, if at all possible (she’s gained the maturity to add gratefully, "I know you’re already doing so much for me…").
I guess, now that I think of it, she hasn’t always been running away from me. She’s been running towards life.