I told my dad it would be good for my career. I told my mom the truth. “I want to go where everything is my choice, where I can’t blame you or dad or give you the credit.” So it was I found myself at 17 on an airplane flying from Orlando, Florida to Terre Haute, Indiana, a state I’d never been anywhere near. I didn’t know anyone for 900 miles.
I shared a taxi–the Terre Haute airport had only one taxi–with a university senior. I arrived a week early to start a job and the dormitory was nearly empty. Once in my dorm, I called my dad. “Everything is fine…”
“If you change your mind and want to come home, you can,” he said. “Any time. It will be okay.”
“I’m fine. Okay?” I got him off the phone. The open window didn’t help the warm, stale air. I called mom. “I’m here,” I said. Before I left home, she’d said, “If you call crying and want to come home, I’m not going to let you.” Now when I heard her voice I broke into tears, insisted I was okay and not asking to come home. I wanted her to see the concrete baby blue walls, the metal framed beds, and view of downtown Terre Haute from my 6th floor window. In those days, I’d have to take pictures with my 35mm, take them to the drug store, wait a day, put them in an envelope and wait a week for mom to call back.
All I could do then was tell her I was okay. After I hung up I kept crying. I cried myself to sleep. Woke up at 2 in the morning and cried more. Went and got a Hostess Cupcake from the vending machine downstairs, ate it in the dark of my room, and cried myself back to sleep again.
In the morning, I knew I’d made the right decision. This was the right place.
In fiction it is hard to know if you’ve brought the story to the right place. At least it is for me. Did I go far enough or too far? And if it is the right place, can I describe it to the reader in old fashioned words?