Chapter Sixteen, The Mother Son College Odyssey

Last night, Robin cooked some incredible curried chicken on the grill. She made a tandoori marinade made with a recipe from her deceased husband. The three of us sat outside at a little round table and ate sweet, spicy barbequed chicken, salad and roasted naan. Robin started regaling Eli with stories about when we met and how we met at conference and did workshops on sexual abuse and trauma together, back in the years when The Courage to Heal was in its heyday. She started telling him stories about how famous I was 20 years ago and what an incredible impact The Courage to Heal had in starting a whole social change movement. “Did you know your mom started a whole social and political movement?” “

 “No,” he replied.

“Do you know the impact her work has had all over the world?”

“No.”

“Did you know that your mom used to travel around and that she had groupies who just wanted to touch her and be around her?”

“No.”

“Do you know that she had to register in hotels under assumed names so no one would know she was there?”

“No!”

She was funny and dramatic and Eli’s jaw dropped in amazement. He kept laughing and repeated over and over, “You had groupies?” And that just egged Robin on to tell another story. She told stories about things I’d either forgotten about completely or hadn’t thought about in twenty years.

Then I started chiming in. Eli was completely dumfounded at the descriptions of people lining up around the block to hear me speak. His responses were completely entertaining. I felt delighted to have a son old enough to share these parts of my past with him; it’s remarkable that he is actually old enough to start gaining a perspective on who I was before he was born. Imagine that—I’m more than just his mother!

Robin also told Eli how I used to cry and tell her how burnt out I was from being on the road and that what I really longed for was a partner and a baby. Then she turned to Eli and said, “And you were the baby!” It was very sweet.

After an hour or so of this, Eli started laughing again in disbelief (at the idea of groupies) and said, “This is way more educational than anything I’ve learned at all these colleges!”

He was such a mench tonight. I was so proud of him. It’s been reassuring to observe Eli as a guest in other people’s homes. He’s holed up in his room a lot, doing homework and texting Ashley, but when he’s come out to join us, he’s been articulate, helpful, polite, and appreciative of the food. These qualities are not generally apparent when we’re at home.

Knowing that he can act right in public is reassuring and makes me proud. He’s a personable, sweet, engaged and interesting young man. It’s a pleasure to see him through other people’s eyes.

I’m so glad we’ve gotten to take this trip together.

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