“Doing a geographic” is a term alcoholics often use for acting on the impulse to start over by moving to a new town, or state, instead of making any internal changes. It’s the anywhere-but-here part of the disease that says, “Remove yourself from this, go someplace new, and everything will be better.” Two years into our Florida stint, my mother pulled a geographic as radical as the move from Rochester. The new plan was to head for California.
She enrolled in the mathematics graduate program at the University of California’s shiny new campus in San Diego, and as soon as our elementary school let out for the summer, she put us into a new Buick station wagon – a gift from her parents – and drove us across the country.
You’d think we’d have protested at yet another move. After all, having been duped before, we were in no position to believe that the next move would be any different. But I have no memory of being unhappy about the news. Because that’s what often happens when an alcoholic parent is doing a geographic. She pulls you in and, before you know it, you, too, believe in the promise of the new place.