Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment One

How can a person not love Christmas when their name is Natalie?

Even thou my name means born on Christmas day I was really born on November 25th but my mother didn’t care. She’s a Christmas freak just like me.

As long as I can remember we’ve had a gold fake Christmas tree that when we first got it smelled like a real Christmas tree but since we keep it up all year it’s lost its smell.

We have a fake wreath on our door from September to July and we blast my mother’s greatest Christmas hits all year long.

There’s just one problem. We live in Miami, Florida so I’ve never actually seen snow.

How can you not love Christmas when it’s all around you and in your blood?

My father was a fellow Christmas lover and Momma and he had some pretty Christmases together.

But that all changed when my father was killed in a car accident when I was five. My mom found refuge in Christmas time and soon everything in our little apartment had something to do with Christmas.

For a long time Momma and I went on living our lives then everything change. My mom got a boyfriend.

His name was Ryan and he was a mall Santa during the winter and a big pain during the rest of the year.

I don’t know what my Momma saw in this man. He’s rude and kinda fat (just saying). But he’s her boyfriend of two years and finally I told Momma I didn’t like him.

She was of course shocked at first but when it wore off she called him and broke up with him. I just wish she hadn’t told him that I didn’t like him.

Cause right now he standing outside of his car waiting for me to walk out the door of my school and I’m going to tell you it aien’t going to happen.

School has been long over and my mother was probably getting worried. We were supposed to make Christmas cookies today.

The school janitor looked at me was he passed by. I had been sitting here for about an hour and I think he was getting curious.

“Miss, you waiting for a ride?”

I looked out the window. I couldn’t sit here forever. I had no way to tell my mother that Ryan was stalking me. This is why i need a cell phone.

“That’s my mom’s boyfriend.” I hesitant for a second should I tell him that I was scared of Ryan.

“And he’s my ride,” I lied. I picked up my red sparkly backpack and walked out the door.

“Natalie! Natalie Baldwin!”

Just ignore him I thought. Our apartment wasn’t too far away maybe if I was fast enough……..

“Natalie, did you hear me?!”

The whole block can hear you I thought. Ryan got into his car and started to drive towards the exit. Maybe he was just going to leave me alone.

Nope. He parked his car in front of the exit. I was trapped.

“The janitor is inside,” I warned. “And I know how to scream.”

“I just want to talk to you. Your mother says that you don’t like me,” Ryan said.

I nodded.

“Why not?” Ryan asked. His voice sounded so innocent. That could be a reason my mother fell for this jerk.

I thought for a second what else my mother saw in this guy but I was taking too long for Ryan so he pulled my hair.

“Answer me, child! Why don’t you like me?” Ryan shouted.

“Get away from me!” I screamed.

“You’re being very naughty!” Ryan shouted yanking me hair more. I couldn’t see it. Why did my mom date this man?

I started to scream and kick. Ryan did not like it when I kicked him so he slapped and punched me.

“Help me! Help me!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I saw a familiar car drew up the the street and then there was a scream.

“You put her down NOW!”

It was my mother and she was not happy. Ryan put me down and turned on the charm.

“Hello, Riley.”

“Ryan, get away from me.

“This girl attacked me. I was just here trying to figure out why she didn’t like me and if it was anything I could change.”

“Stay out our lives, Ryan,” Momma said. I ran to her car and Momma drove us back home.

“Natalie, go pack your bags,” Momma said.

“Huh?” I asked.

“We’re leaving. I need a fresh start,” Momma said. “I thought Ryan was it but he is not.”

I was shocked. Where would we go? Momma’s family was in England and I never knew about my Daddy’s family.

“Where will we go?” I asked.

“Wherever God stops me.”

“So we’re just going to get into a car and drive?” I asked.

“Yes, sweetheart. Go pack your bags,” Momma said.

I ran into my room and turned that place upside down. I could barely close my suitcase but everything was packed.

When I walked into our living room I didn’t recognize it. There were no Christmas decorations. Christmas music wasn’t playing and our tree was gone.

Momma was waiting by the door with the wreath in her hand.

“Wherever this wreath is its home, Natalie,” Momma said.

I walked out the door not ready to say goodbye. All of this was happening so fast. I was leaving the only home I ever knew and all because of some mall Santa.

I had a hard time getting into our car since stuff was stuffed in it. I saw our tree in the trunk and felt like crying. It wasn’t like my mother had no money but we didn’t have a lot of it. My mother often did odd jobs to keep us alive.

My mother seemed to drive on forever but finally she stopped at a McDonalds near the border of Georgia and South Carolina.

“How can I help ya’ll?” The man at the counter asked.

I ordered a hamburger with mayo. Ryan also got his hamburger with mayo and ketchup.

We stopped for gas and then entered South Carolina. It was getting dark out and I fell asleep.

“Where are we?” I asked when I woke up.

“Virginia,” Momma said. She sounded tired.

“Momma, do you need to pull over and sleep?” I asked.

“What I need is to find a place open that sells coffee,” Momma yawned. I convinced her that she needed some sleep and she pulled over and we slept. I never wanted to sleep in our car on the side of the road ever again.

When daylight hit we kept driving. Then I saw a sight. The Washington Monument.

“You’ve been such a trooper honey,” Momma said. “I think we can take a detour and drive through the capital.”

As we drive down the streets for a second I forget what’s happened less than twenty-four hours ago. All I can think about is how awesome this city is. Too bad D.C. can’t last forever.

We enter Maryland and I thought about school. I had a report due today about tropical birds. Today in Art class was abstract day and I could paint whatever I wanted to. And in music class today we start singing holiday songs. And where am I on this day? I’m in a car and have no idea where God’s gonna stop us.

Maryland seems to go on for forever but Momma says Maryland is one of the smallest states in our country. We are in Delaware for a quick bit and then we’re in New Jersey.

Momma stopped and asked for directions at a tire repair shop in New Jersey. Had she found out where we were going?

“Look up, Natalie. We’re in New York City,” Momma said. I looked up and saw the Empire State Building. This could actually be a fun trip if we weren’t running away.

“This is special just for you,” Momma smiled. Sometimes I think God gave me the best mother in the world.

Then I see something come down. It’s snow.

As we were stuck in traffic I think that New York City just might last forever but it doesn’t. Momma gets us back on ‘course’ and we keep on going.

I fall asleep again and when I wake up we’re in Massachusetts. I try to think of the US map. We’ve almost driven up the entire Eastern Side!

Momma has to stop for gas for like the three hundredth time and we get something to eat and then we see a sign.

Welcome to Florida!

The sign has a snowman on it and some palm trees. For a second I thought we might be back home but the wreath is in the car so the car is home right now.

“I think this is it,” Momma said. She couldn’t possibly think that some little town in Massachusetts was where God was leading us.

But she did.