Since College Started…

Since college started…

Y’all remember that I wrote about my daughter, a freshman in college, having a medical issue when a heel blister became infected shortly after sorority recruitment ended. Thanks to a great roommate and advice from said roommate’s dad, my daughter went to the local urgent care for treatment in time to head off the infection before it reached her Achilles tendon and became something more serious. You’ll likely remember that I also wrote about the car accident she was involved in when she came home for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. Ten minutes after a friend picked her up from the airport, they were in an accident. Fortunately, everyone was fine.

This weekend, she decided to go stay with my friend, Angela, in Montgomery, two hours from her university. According to her, “everyone” was leaving town for the weekend, and I know she was happy to have some time with a mom she’s close to.

And then, just as she should have been driving back to her university yesterday afternoon, she called to tell me she had a nail in her tire and only 21 pounds of pressure. Ugh. Literally, I thought, “It’s always something!” Angela said they were on their way to get the tire taken care of, so I tried to relax, but to top it all off, a certain cell carrier was having difficulty with one of their towers in the Montgomery area, and calls were virtually impossible. I couldn’t hear them. They couldn’t hear me. It was frustrating, to say the least. And my daughter needed to get back to school, because she had a 10:00 class this morning.

I was in the car when they called me. I had just dropped some food at a sick friend’s house, and I was on my way home. I just thought, “Why do things like this always happen? Why does she have such bad luck?” So I prayed. I prayed for patience. I prayed that my daughter would be safe. And I realized after praying that maybe God was protecting her by letting her have a nail in her tire. Maybe the delay actually saved her somehow. Maybe the delay helped her avoid an accident.

The first tire store they went to was too busy, so they went to a second one. Luckily, that one could help! I was thrilled, and I sat down to relax. But then…I started getting texts asking, “Where is the wheel lock?” What?!?! My daughter was texting, “Where is dad?” And, “They can’t find my wheel lock in my car! They can’t do anything without it!” I kept trying to call my husband, and he didn’t answer…of course. I had made it home from the food drop-off, so I got in my car and drove to where my husband was throwing a frisbee with a friend. When I arrived, they were getting in their cars to leave. I drove up and asked, “Where is the wheel lock in our daughter’s car?” He said, “It should be in the glove box.” Nope. They had looked there. They had looked in the back hatch area. Nothing. Finally, my husband said, “Tell them to check in the center console.” They found it. Of course, all communication had been over text or on terrible phone service because of the tower issues in Montgomery, adding to my frustration.

***If you don’t know what the wheel lock for your car looks like and don’t know where it is, you need to find it now! You don’t want to be searching for it when you need it!***

Seriously, before they found it, I had visions of myself having to get into the car and drive six hours to Angela’s house so my daughter could take my car back to college in the morning. I could then get hers fixed (because my wheel lock fits her car too) before driving two hours to the university, getting my car back, and driving 7 1/2 hours home. Just the thought of having almost 16 hours of driving ahead of me made my head spin. I was not happy. My husband couldn’t understand why I was so frustrated, but I knew he wouldn’t be the one making the drive. He actually said to me at one point, “If I were you, I’d start driving.” What the what?!?! If you were me?!? How about if you were you? A friend was with us, and I’m sure he thought I was off my rocker, but honestly, I was the one who was going to handle everything. I knew it was all on my shoulders if they didn’t find the stupid wheel lock. But they did. Thank the Lord. And I could take a deep breath and relax. I literally came home and had two glasses of wine.

I feel like I have been “putting out fires” since she went to college in August. Surely, this won’t keep happening. Surely, things will settle down. Is she going to have a crisis every couple of weeks?

Maybe we have learned something from these crises? I know now what the wheel lock looks like for my car! And our daughter knows where to find hers! (Yes, I made sure she got it back after the repair.) Maybe we have both gotten some extra education since college started!

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Remember Leif Garrett?

Remember Leif Garrett?

Yes, this is on my mind today…Leif Garrett. He was a teen idol when I was a preteen in the 1970s. He had been on a couple of TV shows…Three for the RoadFamily (with Kristy McNichol), and a guest spot on Wonder Woman. He had a singing career with a hit in I Was Made for Dancing. He was in the Walking Tall movies. He was on American Bandstand. And he even had his very own TV special on CBS. All that happened before he was 18.

I don’t even know why I started thinking about Leif Garrett yesterday. Sometimes, I start looking for movies I liked as a child or teenager, and yesterday, I thought of a coming-of-age film from the 80s called Little Darlings, starring Kristy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal. Somehow, that made me think of Leif Garrett.

Oh, he was such a dreamboat at the time! With his flowing blonde locks and surfer-boy looks, lots of teenage girls had his posters all over their bedrooms. Back then, we had Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines (remember those?) to keep us up-to-date on our teen idols, and in the late 70s, Leif Garrett was at the top of the list. But as we all know, most teen idols don’t last. Most are a flash in the pan…including Garrett. But there was something different about him. He had charisma that the others didn’t have. Well, David Cassidy had it, but I can’t think of anyone else from my time who had the same X Factor as Cassidy and Garrett. Somehow, David Cassidy managed to reinvent himself as an adult in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway, but the only place we’ve seen Garrett was Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew…sadly.

I’ve seen clips and read articles about him over the last 24 hours, and his story is tragic. He started acting in commercials as a child before moving into TV and movies. At some point, a management team decided to make him a singing star. With his charisma, Garrett was a walking dollar sign. He felt like he had no say in his own career and told Rosie O’Donnell on her show that he didn’t see a lot of the money from his fame.

But the real turning point in his life was a tragic car accident when he was 17. He was driving his Porsche, and a friend was riding with him. They had an accident, and the friend was left paralyzed from the waist down. Alcohol and drugs were involved. All terrible. It’s also something that could happen to lots of teens…a cautionary tale.

It’s tragic. The friend’s paralysis is tragic. The guilt and downward spiral afterward of Garrett are tragic too. Had he not been in show business, would this have happened? It’s an ugly business. Tragic. He became an addict…cocaine, heroin…sad. Was it the guilt of the accident that sent him over the edge? He made some bad choices, but this was a kid who had too much freedom and too much power too early. Who could handle that at 17? Fame and money make a strange life for a teen. Even good people can get caught up in the trappings of fame. Drugs plus guilt…perfect storm.

I am not diagnosing Garrett. I am not a psychologist. I just wonder what could have been. I look at that innocent face of the 1970s, and I want him to have a mother or someone else to keep him grounded. Had he been more closely supervised, and had he not chosen to drive under the influence that night, would his life have spiraled out of control? It’s sad to look at the photos of that sunkissed, young, hopeful teen and know what a terrible turn his life took. I don’t think he was a horrible individual. He was a teenager without boundaries. He’s likely not a horrible individual now, but wow, he has had a tough life. If he had stayed clean, would he be living a “normal” life now? We will never know. Some teen idols go on to have seemingly healthy lives, but the vast majority seem to have more issues than the “average” kid.

So that brings me to Garrett’s book, released at the end of 2019. Of course, I didn’t know about it then, and I didn’t hear about it earlier this year. With COVID in our midst, there hasn’t been a lot of press about the memoirs of former teen idols. But when I learned about it yesterday, I ordered it from Amazon, and I’ve read a couple of chapters, and it’s pretty darn good so far. It’s called Idol Truth: A Memoir. Yes, I will be the first to admit that I tend to be sympathetic. I’m a bleeding heart. I tend to want the best for people, and I’m sure I will still want the best for Garrett when I finish this book. If you’re interested, you can order from Amazon here. It will be available on the Audible app on August 11…I’ve already preordered it.

In the meantime, I’ll give my teenage daughter some extra hugs and be grateful that she’s a normal teenage girl living a normal life in North Carolina…not a teen idol. And I’ll tell her the story of Leif Garrett as a cautionary tale. I’ll tell her how quickly his life spiraled out of control, and hopefully, we will both learn some valuable lessons from Garrett’s experience.