Book Excerpt: 'Coming Home to Myself'

I was stunned. Instead of busting in the door and screaming that we were headed straight to hell, she set a boundary, and talked to us about being responsible to ourselves. I'd never had such a loving talk when I had made a mistake. There was no shame or guilt. Just love. Mrs. McCord still drops me a note from time to time or sends me a card on my birthday. I will always remember her and be thankful that she was such a blessing to me at a time when I needed one. And to this day, when I drive by their street on Sundays, I have the urge to stop by and ask, "What's for supper?"

I fell in love with another family, and that, too, was tied to food! Dolly Gillespie was the daughter of a wealthy family. Her dad was a builder, and they lived in a big, beautiful home. As it was with Stephen McCord, Dolly and I could not have been more different. She wore designer jeans and ostrich boots. She had spiked hair and wore several earrings in each ear. She smoked and cussed. She was a rebel, and my best friend.

Dolly had a fake ID, which I thought rocked! We'd go to clubs in Nashville to dance to punk rock music. She liked me because I was quirky, and I liked to cruise with her. I liked going to her house because her mom was always home. I was fed such wonderful dinners at Dolly's house! The refrigerator was always full and Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie were always cooking.

I think Dolly liked coming to my house because she was fascinated with our lifestyle. (It sure wasn't because the refrigerator was always full!) But whereas Dolly's mom represented "home," my mom represented "hip." Actually, a lot of kids liked coming to our house. The boys thought Mom was a real babe! And our house had a creative, funky vibe. The kitchen had a tiny refrigerator with a freezer that had room for just two ice trays and one package of food. We had an antique pie safe. Our stove was old, with one of those big drawers in the bottom to store your pots and pans in.

Because our refrigerator was one of those small old-fashioned ones with a pull-down handle, I had to shop for food every day or so. Over time, I figured out a way to pocket some extra spending money for the weekend. On Fridays I'd return boxed and canned goods to the Franklin Kroger and get the cash refund. The folks there knew me well. So well, as it turned out, that when I was busted for grand-theft lipstick, they called me by name.

One night, while shopping, I decided I wanted some lipstick. Since I didn't have the money, I stuck a tube of pink and a tube of red into my pocket. I guess I thought I needed both colors to go with my wardrobe. I paid for the groceries, and as I walked back out to the car, an undercover security guard approached me. "Hey, Miss Judd. I need to talk to you for a minute."

I felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest.

He took me back inside and walked upstairs to the office, where I signed what I guess was a police report or admission of guilt. I was so horrified and scared I don't remember all the details. Then I was taken to the Williamson County jail, where they called my mom. She wanted to teach me a lesson, and left me there. Mom must have been scared to death for me, worried something very serious was going wrong with her daughter.

Franklin is a small town. As it turned out, the guy who signed me in at the jail was my school bus driver. Actually, I had never been able to get away with much while I was growing up. The first time I skipped school I even got caught!

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