Good God, it has actually happened. My eighteen year old daughter has moved out. Of course it's just a five minute drive from here and she's living with her Uncle, but still. She's not living under my roof anymore which means she could very well be one step closer to living a life that doesn't make me hold my breath and cringe when the phone rings.
Her ascent into adulthood has not been easy and she has gone into it kicking and screaming the whole way. Drowning feral cats would be easier. Honestly, I've never seen anything quite like it. I mean, who would want to live with their parents for the rest of their lives? Yes, I'm sort of awesome but seriously, if I were approaching nineteen, I wouldn't want to live with me.
When I was her age (Jesus, I sound old and full of things a parent would say), I was living with my boyfriend at the time (her father), working and sharing a rental in Half Moon Bay with some quasi-hillbillies that chewed tobacco, drank Old Crow and went deer hunting. I'm from San Francisco so living in that environment was not dissimilar to moving to Pluto. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have been happier on Pluto.
It was pretty clear to me that I had to get the fuck-all-hell out of that situation and that I would have to do it without much help.
By the time she was two, I had ditched the boyfriend. He was an artist and a musician and although he loved his daughter, he was more likely to be found at band practice than he was changing a diaper or looking for a job that actually paid in currency, not free bong hits and acrylic paint. I also upgraded my job from part-time jewelry maker and part-time housekeeper, to full-time bank teller. I was able to enroll my little girl into a Montessori school which sounded all kinds of fancy. And then best of all, I snatched up my own little one bedroom apartment. My place. A place where there would be just one television (not two stacked up on top of one another) and I could watch Shark Week as much as I wanted to. I didn't have roommates who wanted to show me how they could make a deer's paw move even though it had been severed from it's leg. A place that smelled like jasmine and sandalwood; a place that acknowledged red wine as it's own food group. My place.
When my daughter moved out, I gave her $100 accompanied by a look I'm sure she has seen far too many times: my right eyebrow arched and my lips painted with high gloss sarcasm.
"This is $100," I explained as if she had never seen actual cash before. "You have to pay half of your new garbage bill because it costs money to put trash in a can and for people to haul it off to trash-land. This isn't 18th Century London you know."
Snatching money out of my hand while rolling her big green eyes has always been her specialty and on that moving day, she did not disappoint. "Yes, I know that mom."
So along with the a crisp hundred dollar bill, I sent her on her way with boxes of canned foods (you never know when an earthquake might hit), frozen waffles (because they can sometimes replace bread), Ranch dressing (because she puts it on everything), granola bars (again, natural disasters can strike at any time) and several rolls of toilet paper. I tell her to take special care of the toilet paper. "You're living with boys now honey and boys are gross."
The next day she accompanies me while I go food shopping, a task that I personally loath. If I didn't have these
wildebeasts children to feed, I would live on red beans, rice, coffee and Chardonnay and splurge on vodka and fruit in the summer. So it's checkout time and as I'm paying for my haul (pushing $200), I notice her slowly putting her items on the conveyor belt.
"What's the matter?" I ask her this even though I already know and because I'm an asshole sometimes.
"This is stupid. I hate spending money on food." She knits her brow into a frown and is genuinely unhappy that she has to do this.
I smile because her items consist of this: one loaf of the cheapest bread she could find, one pack of bologna, one 2-liter of generic soda, two Rockstars, a box of Apple Jacks and a gallon of milk. Her grand total is less than $15 and she hesitates as she gives the cashier her un-earned $20.
I can't help but laugh all the way out of the store. She can't help asking what I'm making for dinner that night.
"Not bologna sandwiches," I smile.
And she is less than pleased with me.