My children had integrated into their new dwelling and their Nashville life fairly well. The school they attended was a good one where they made some lifelong friends, and Donna’s cooking had made a definite improvement over the barbecue chicken wings which seemed to be the only thing their father knew how to take them out for.
While there were some tensions that come within a post-divorce family and the normal anxieties of the early teen years, they were handling it all fairly well. I had agreed to take the kids while their mother was on her course of self-discovery however long that would take, but they did miss their mom. Between drum circles, parties, strange visitors, and their own teenage dramas, life at the Ashwood house was certainly interesting and kept them occupied and entertained.
Exit, stage right…
My daughter, Chanda, was the first to ask to move back with her mom. Before moving to Ashwood she had been “the woman of the house” and now, she was not. I suppose, in retrospect, she felt displaced and replaced which caused some additional tension for her.
My son, Joel, stayed a little longer. We had some tense moments during that year since he is just as headstrong and stubborn as I am. We both managed to make it through. Also, good food is important for a growing boy, and Donna is a great cook. But eventually, he felt the draw to return to be with his mom and sister.
Donna and I went out to lunch one afternoon to discuss all the recent changes. We chose the same Mexican restaurant that Annie Laurie had won a contest with the best black bean soup. As the winning entré, they paid her a bit and were also to receive her recipe but she managed to leave out a few of her secret ingredients. Their version was still good but it wasn’t as amazing as Annie Laurie’s.
We talked about the kids choosing to leave, and then Donna said, “I’m bored.” But she didn’t just say it once. She said it three times like one would to cast a magic spell. That’s how it seems in retrospect. Little did we realize what magic was cast until later.
It was almost Easter weekend. She pulled the sourdough bread starter out of the refrigerator, same as every weekend, but this weekend it was dead! The sourdough starter had died! Then shortly after, Rusty made his sudden departure throwing all his belongings into his truck and leaving.
Shortly after that, there was a phone call. It was an IRS agent that told her that she was behind in paying her payroll taxes and demanded she pays $30,000, now! In paying alimony to her ex-husband, a poor alcoholic artist with no means of income, according to the judge, she fell further and further behind with her payroll taxes.
Then that same afternoon, a bank representative knocked on the door demanding another $30,000 for a defaulted loan! This house note was supposed to be put in the ex-husband’s name for the house where he now lived, she had owned it as a rental property but had to give it to him in the divorce settlement. He didn’t get it changed and didn’t pay the note. So it defaulted on Donna.
Everything happening in one day like a big knife slicing through all the strings that held it all together and as she sat and cried, she turned to me detailing the tragedy that had befallen them, to which I asked, “What is your dream?”
She said, “I’ve always supported other people’s dreams.”
“Yes, but what is YOUR dream?”
“My dream is that I’ve always wanted to travel around the world,” then she burst into tears exclaiming, “But we don’t have any money!”
“I’ve got a guitar! I hear people play on the streets, we can make money anywhere in the world!”
And so, the dream was launched.