The First Boy Who Asked Me To Dance

When I was 13, my mother and I drove out West in her blue Dodge minivan that I loved because it wasn't the rusted out pea green Pinto station wagon. We had a few family members to visit scattered between Denver and Chicago but our final destination was a Narcotics Anonymous convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My mother has a small business selling recovery themed buttons that enabled us to travel all over the continental United States, Mexico and Canada, giving me an up front and center view of addicts, alcoholics and co-dependents of every race, age, denomination and sexual orientation I believe possible in the western hemisphere today, quite an education for a little white girl growing up in Richmond's Westend. On the road, I kept my nose in a book, except when we were camping. I was an avid, obsessive reader. "Look out the window!" my mom would say but I was more interested in fantasy, adventure, other worlds and romance than cows. In the tent we used a yellow bucket that said "Ukrop's Homemade Soup" for nighttime emergencies. I don't remember thinking how brave it was for a single woman to camp near truck stops along the highway with her barely teenage daughter. That's just how my mom was. The hotel we finally arrived at must have been in the mountains. It must have been breathtaking. But what I remember most is Shane and his tight blonde curls that spiraled into a helmet shaped mullet, the smell of his Drakkar and that he loved the Beach Boys. He was a waiter at the hotel and the first boy who asked me to dance.