The People That Fill The Holes Inside Us
One thing I don’t get to talk very often about when discussing I’ll Meet You There is the relationship that Marge, the owner of the Paradise Motel, has with Skylar and Josh, the novel’s protagonists. Skylar describes Marge as a mama bear, a Midwest transplant who bought the Paradise after her Army son was killed. In the novel we see the ways in which she supports Sky and Josh, whether it’s feeding them when they’re hungry, offering shelter, or just being a solid, dependable presence. Both Sky and Josh have troubled home lives with emotionally absentee parents or, in Sky’s case, literally absent, as her father has been dead for several years. Marge is a mother who lost a child and so she directs the energy she can’t put into her son’s life toward these two broken kids. Marge doles out tough love and gentleness in equal doses—she doesn’t let Sky or Josh get away with anything. The balance between accountability and affection is key to the relationship between an authority figure (she’s their boss) and a young adult.
Looking back on the novel, it’s no surprise that I inserted Marge into Sky and Josh’s lives. I myself come from a broken home and though I know my mom loved me, she wasn’t always able to be everything I needed. All through my childhood and adolescence I had adults who stepped in to shoulder some of my single mom’s burden and, later, to be there when the family dynamic became unhealthy after the addition of a step-father. Whether it was a coach, a teacher, a youth pastor, a friend’s parent, or some other giving person in my community, my life has been buoyed by the adults who stepped up when they saw a kid’s need. When I was in high school I had a mentor through my church named Tricia. She was—and is—an amazing woman. We were in a short-term mentorship program that was only supposed to last a few months. When all the other mentors and mentees parted ways after the allotted time, she stayed with me for several years, until I graduated from high school. We’d go out to lunch and she’d come to see my school plays. We’d talk on the phone. Another mentor I had was my drama teacher. She’d keep her classroom open every day at lunch so the drama geeks had a safe place to hang out and be geeks. We called her Mama K and she really was. If we had boy troubles or problems at home, her office door was always open. I was a good kid because of people like Tricia and Mama K, adults who got that I was hurting and a little bit lost. I always appreciated their efforts, but now as an adult I can see even more how incredibly generous these people were with their time and resources. I’m sure Tricia had more exciting things to do than go out for Chinese with a high school girl. Mama K undoubtedly needed a little time to herself after teaching a high energy set of classes all day. But they showed up anyway. These are the kind of people we should be giving out major awards to, don’t you think?
To learn more about I'll Meet You There, click on the book cover below.
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