The summer after my tenth grade year.

Dawn moved to her sister’s house about half an hour away for the summer. Everyone hoped her parents would find a place by the time the fall rolled around, but for now they were still in the cheap day by day motel with no room for a third person. We all agreed that while Dawn and I were close, we were not good roommates, and so her sister decided to take her in and have her help with chlidcare that summer. Dawn could drive, having obtained her license months ago, and she was able to use some of her baby sitting money to purchase a 1968 model Plymouth something to get around town in. The car was older than nearly everyone we knew, but it ran, and it helped Dawn have the freedom she needed to start moving on with her life, regardless of what her parents’ choices were.

As for me, I was starting driver’s ed myself that June. Since my birthday was nine months after Dawn’s, I couldn’t take driver’s ed until a few months before my sixteenth birthday. I was excited to have a few friends in my class, including Karen, who was in the band with me. My old friend Andrea was there too; even though she was a grade behind me, her birthday was early enough in the year for her to enroll. This was good news because the school was six miles from my house and I had no way to get home from the classes. Most of the time I could hitch a ride with Andrea or Karen, though a few times I did find myself walking the six miles home during the dusty, 90 degree summer days.

I looked forward to getting my license. I saw the freedom it was giving Dawn to find a job, earn money and start to feel more in control of her life. I couldn’t wait to be able to take part in after school activities or study sessions again, something I hadn’t been able to do with a mother who worked full time and a sister who did as well. My mother was already shopping for a new car, planning on giving me her cast off after she found something suitable for her long daily commutes downtown.

It really was a tale of two summers for me. I was optimistic for the future but still very, very resentful about my family and my past.


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