Janelle

by Carolyn Crawford

The first time I met Janelle she was kicking in the door of her beat up old car which wouldn’t start. She was all of 19 years old and fresh out of prison. I suggested if she wanted to sell the car she should keep it in the best shape possible. She agreed and let go of her anger for a moment.

We became fast friends or perhaps a better description would have been big sister, little sister. She couldn’t hold a job because of her anger. Her mother was a weak woman, an alcoholic and incapable of being any help. Janelle was a reformed tweeker. Drugs had been the only way she could get along with herself. I helped her get a new car and an apartment on her own. I got her work training as a ballroom dance teacher and she was brilliant. She learned patterns easily but when it came time to work with new students, her immaturity got her fired. She didn’t have the language skills or the patience. She opted to become a stripper which of course led to bad company and drugs again. So she decided to move to Texas to live with her fundamental religionist father who had strict rules which she couldn’t follow- not surprising. She ran away, ending up with a boyfriend in Florida and got pregnant.

She returned to Tucson to have the baby and gave it up for adoption as she couldn’t take care of herself- let alone a child. She now ekes out a living doing office work for my ex-husband. She is however growing up. Her spirit has been crushed but a new love is reviving her. We talk now and then. I give her books to read slowly leading her to a new thought perspective.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are the tasting the taste this minute of eternity
We are the pain and what cures the pain
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours

– Jalaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

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