I thanked my driver for finding me. Hers was the only car on my road and I was the only person outside on my block. I like these quiet mornings.

I asked my driver where she was from originally. She said she was born in Louisiana and then moved to Portland. I asked her if she remembered her years in Louisiana, and she said oh yeah, definitely. She had a difficult relationship with her dad, who is now gone, and she was also very close to her dad’s mom, whom she called “Ma-ma” (emphasis on the second syllable).

After her dad died, she and her son moved back to be close to her family, but it wasn’t the same. She was very, very close to her godmother, but unfortunately her godmother’s daughter didn’t like her and tried to turn everyone against her. And the family lived in a town that had a population in the hundreds, so my driver always felt like she was being watched and judged. She decided a larger city away from family is best.

We talked about her dad too. He was sent to Vietnam when he was 17, so my assumption is that he enlisted (because you can’t be drafted under age 18). My driver said he was damaged by Agent Orange and PTSD. We talked about how their baby brains couldn’t possibly process such violence and destruction. All of that obviously took a toll on my driver’s relationship with her dad.

We also talked about what’s wrong with you vs. what happened to you. It is a big distinction. If you are shipped to a foreign country with a baby brain to kill people, stuff is going to happen to you to mess you up. A label that is really demeaning is “daddy issues,” as if a girl or a woman would choose to have her dad treat her like crap, and then never know how to have healthy boundaries.

My driver is sad that her relationships with her family have shifted and she can’t move back again, but she is okay with carrying on in Phoenix for now.