Laura Crawford is a freelance writer, hunter of food trucks, hashtag abuser, and coffee addict who believes that a proper Bloody Mary makes the perfect stand-alone brunch. She loves burying her toes in the warm sand, and nose in a book, though as a momma of 3 that tends to be a special treat.
You can find more from Laura at sheislola.com, where she writes about the best locally owned eateries, the occasional recipe from her own kitchen, and other ramblings.
About 14 years ago I moved from Iowa to North Carolina. I did this for a number of reasons, but the readers digest version is that I felt my life falling apart and I wanted, needed, a fresh start. To be in a new place. To not have all the negative in my life that was constantly holding me down.
With $250 in my pocket, clothes, and the things I felt were most important to me in the trunk of my car I headed toward the East Coast. I never said goodbye. I left a note that said I was heading out to make it on my own in life, and when I had succeeded I would be in contact.
That was it.
I found my way to North Carolina, sleeping in rest stops along the way. Before I actually landed in Jacksonville, I worked in exchange for a place to live at a Scottish Inns in the Raleigh-Durham area. (talk about sketchy!) But I did make it on my own. And I got married, and have 3 beautiful children. I wouldn’t say that my start into adulthood was conventional, and I don’t recommend it to any 20 year olds today. I did, however, make it through my journey with my family not knowing anything about when or why, really, I left or where I was going, or if I had made it, or….
And strangely enough the point of my story never really occurred to me until a few weeks ago.
A girlfriend and I were headed to Charlotte for a girls weekend and to do the ROC Race. We’ve been close friends for a few years now, but were enjoying sharing stories from our past. The details of my move from Iowa I had never really dished out before, not in their entirety anyway.
As I finish, she looks at me puzzled and slightly horror stricken and says, “Whoa. Hold up. So you left your home without actually saying goodbye to anyone. You left a basic note. Your apartment abandoned. No one knew where you were going or if you arrived. You didn’t contact anyone for almost 4 months. And your mother, MOTHER, just wrote you off for dead? Nobody called the police? No one alert the authorities you were missing? Are you serious? She just decided you were dead and that was it?”
In 14 years I had never really thought about that. Four months after I had left I finally called back and let my family know I was alive and doing very well. One of the reasons why I left was because of my mother, a relationship that I would later realize would never be salvageable was deteriorating at that current time, but at the time I was still hopeful and a bit naive and made the phone call. When she answered, there was no sigh of relief. She simply said, “oh you’re alive. I assumed you were dead by now”, and I replied with a cheery, “nope! I’m definitely alive!”.
One could assume she was only joking. Maybe just blowing off what was probably a very stressful situation for a mother to make her seem as though she always remained cool and collected, never frantic. Well, she did. Remain cool and collected. Never frantic. As the next few years go by I listened to her side of that story many times, and it always ended with the same line, “I just assumed she was dead. What else was I supposed to think?”
I must had been lost in this thought, or my face was starting to blotch with a bright red, my telltale sign I’m either stressed, having a high blood pressure moment, or about to get very emotional, because my friend snapped me back into reality. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said it like that. I just meant, I don’t care how good that note was written or what my relationship was with my daughter, I would never, EVER, just let her disappear like that without some sort of a fight. Ever! I just can’t imagine….”
My mother is no longer in my life. Time passes. The signs you choose to ignore become unignorable. I eventually reached a point where it was obvious I needed to let go of something that was incredibly toxic in my life. And, every now and then there are these moments, like this one with my dear friend, where I’m reminded of just how dysfunctional the relationship was and why I’m truly at peace with it being over.