one hundred miles to empty: chapter one

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Table of Contents


Hello, son.

Today is Mothers Day. I woke up this morning to you knocking on my bedroom door to tell me that the cats had knocked over the vase of flowers and that you wanted some cheese. Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, Mom! Mom? MOM? Wake up Mom! I tried to ignore you for a few minutes, but you can be pretty persistent – especially when it comes to getting your string cheese. So I stumbled out of bed and opened your packet of cheese you had in your sticky little hand, poured you a red Solo cup of milk, and sat my tired self down on the couch to wake up.

I’m tired because I stayed up all night reading. I read about a woman and her baby. The book was called Good In Bed, and I read it from cover to cover, from eleven at night to five in the morning. Then morning, maniacal knocking, cheese, and water all over the table and floor. Another day with my darling baby boy.

Aunt No N called at nine thirty to ask if we wanted to come over for French toast and coffee, so I got dressed, switched your shoes to the right feet (you always want to put them on yourself, and so far you get the right feet about half the time), and packed you up and out the door.

On the way, we stopped at Starbucks, where you insisted that you wanted a coffee bean because you thought it was chocolate. A woman in line smiled at you and said you were such an adorable little boy. I looked at you, with wide blue eyes peeking out over all four fingers stuffed in your mouth and that silly scrape on your chin, and had no option but to agree. You are, and always will be, the most adorablest, cutest, sweetest boy I have ever had the opportunity to meet.

When we got to No N’s, you played with Becky, her dog, chasing and getting chased, and falling down, getting up, chasing some more. You wear me out just watching you. You really wanted to go upstairs but Uncle No N was still sleeping (he had been up too late the night before, like Mommy) and so we made you stay downstairs. Your auntie made you some French toast and bacon, with your plastic cup of milk, and you sat at the table and ate your breakfast (except for the bacon) like a champ. Then you settled in to watch Finding Nemo (or Finning Memo, as you call it) and your aunt No N handed me a book.

It was called Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas, and it is the reason I am writing this right now.


Suzanne was a mom, like me. She also had a beautifully blond baby boy, named Nicholas, with big blue eyes. Unlike me, she had a heart condition which made her baby very precious to her. She wrote a diary for her son so that he would know, in her words, just how much she loved him and how much he meant to her. In the book, Suzanne and her baby boy die in a car accident, and her husband, who loved them both very much, finishes the diary by writing about how much he loved them both.

I read a lot, son. I am sure you know that already. This was not a long book, but it was good, and I finished it in about three hours. I went home to get my laptop so that when I finished, I could start writing you a letter. I tend to start things and neglect to finish them, but we’ll get to that later. This is one thing I really want to finish, need to finish. Reading this book today made me think about how many things I want you to know, how many things I want to make sure you understand, just in case that someday it’s too late and you never get to know how much, how utterly, how truly I love you.

I want you to know me, know who I am and what I am about, in my own words, and hopefully I can help you understand what my life has been about.

I should probably start with when I met your dad, but like Suzanne, I will start even earlier than that. It is important to see where one came from so you can see where one is going.

When I was seventeen, I knew everything. I was smart, just like you. There was no doubt in my mind I knew everything there was to know about everything, and it was difficult to tell me otherwise. I hope that if you end up like me, you will learn that there are good ways to be stubborn, and there are also bad ways. When your mom was young, she was definitely “bad” stubborn. I still definitely have my moments, by the way. I have made more mistakes by thinking I knew the answer than really thinking about the answer.

Anyway, when I was seventeen, I was in my junior year at Cleveland High School in south Seattle. I was short, spunky, and bored. I had always been a good student, but not diligent – completing reports in class on the day they were due, not studying for tests, that sort of thing. I managed to keep up a 3.8 grade average, but that was slipping, along with my interest in school, and my attendance. Eventually, in November of 1993, I dropped out of high school and went off to a union training camp called Job Corps, halfway between Yachats and Waldport, on the Oregon Coast. That’s where I met the man who changed my life for the first time.

Next: chapter two.

1 comments on “one hundred miles to empty: chapter one”

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