Why did you leave, mom?

Thirty years after she disappeared, I did the unthinkable -- I called my troubled mom to find out her story.

The first link that comes up on my Internet search is a mug shot of my mother in an orange jumpsuit, hazel eyes wide open like she’s trying to look less drunk. Her skin is smooth and tight. Only the thin white hair fanning around her face gives away her 70 years. The arrest report is from 2003. The reason: driving under the influence. I’m relieved it’s not something worse.

My mom and I haven’t spoken in 30 years, since I was a child, but I know a few things about her. My grandmother, who gave me her phone number, told me she never remarried after she and my father divorced. I also scanned through a couple of her academic papers online while rolling the small piece of paper with her phone number on it between my thumb and index finger. I assume her students did an Internet search on their professor and found the same mug shot that I did. I roll her phone number into a nice cylinder and then roll it back out flat and look at the digits.

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