Spider Monkey. Field Mouse. Sharkey. Peanut. Miss Poo. I’ve called my daughter Samantha many nicknames. So if by chance she has or develops multiple personality disorder, I’ll accept my share of the blame.
Truthfully, though, her personality has been consistent. She’s always had an uncommon sense of independence and individuality. She’s never been interested in being popular for the sake of being popular, has zero tolerance for intolerance, leans sharply toward self-confidence, and sharply away from self-satisfaction, and likes what she likes because she likes it – she doesn’t need a Top 10 list or four stars to determine what she wants to listen to, read or watch.
And she’s braver than almost anyone else I know because this is a woman … (I initially wrote ‘child’ – old habits, plus I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the glaring fact that I’m old enough to have a child who is a woman) … this is a woman who consciously chose the lonelier road, the so-called path less traveled, the inevitable path of the truly unaffected iconoclast.
This is not to say that Samantha Leigh Grillo is antisocial or overly disdainful of the herd (no, she has just the right amount of disdain, like her father). She’s got a razorblade wit, is sweet-natured and friendly, preferring the company of a few rather than many at one time. She’s overcome some very difficult situations, and she’s endured, and even thrived.
A little more than two years ago, she took a huge leap of faith — a 2,800-mile leap, in fact. She moved to the exact opposite corner of the country, to Seattle. She conquered the city – our country girl conquered the big city, got a great job, met a great guy, and while everyone was offering their opinions and their reasons on the how and why she was living the cool life in cool town, she was already thinking about the next adventure. And now she is in Mississippi in the Teach for America program.
In little more than two years she’s gone from Sautee Nacoochee to Seattle to Mississippi, to train for a job that will probably land her in Arkansas. She wants to teach and she wants to work in a rural place that really wants and needs teachers. She’s leaving the culture, the restaurants, the normalcy, the comfort and beauty, the safety-net she’s created for herself in Seattle, for the uncertainty, heat, humidity and pervasive poverty of the Delta.
Someone asked me recently about this, the leaving Seattle for the Southern Delta. He asked, “is she crazy?” All I could think to say was, “if she’s crazy, then she’s always been crazy and the world could do with a lot more crazy.”
She’s not crazy, though. Nor is she Spider Monkey, Field Mouse, Sharkey, Peanut or Miss Poo. She’s Sam, and that is enough. That is everything.