by Janine Pettit
29 Jul 2015
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
-Louisa May Alcott
Every human harbors dreams of things they wish they could do. Some of those things are actually doable with some applied preparation and perspiration. Running a 5K, taking a bucket list trip, or getting a handle on your finances or health. Some bigger dreams, however, fall into a category with the dreaded, “someday” label. They get put there because life has obligations and responsibilities that take precedent over dreams. Some dreamers fall into complacency and their dream dies, but some nurture that dream and do things to keep the little flame from going out. Jea Santovasco (pronounced Gia), a Girl Camper who was born and raised in Brooklyn, fell into the second category. She kept her dream of one day owning a travel trailer and traveling at will alive while making a Herculean effort to raise three children on her own.
The dream of one day owning and traveling in her own “tiny house” on wheels was “on hold” while Jea raised her three children.
At age 39, Jea left a husband whose verbal and emotional abuse turned physical and began to trickle down to their 7 and 8 year old children. With a six week old infant in her arms and her two older children in tow, she left the marriage with nothing but what fit into her car. Years of unpaid child support left her in the unenviable position of being the sole supporter of her family. She decided she could cry, or she could make it an adventure. She took the attitude that she and her children were on an adventure. Not having anyone to rely on, she worked as a secretary and then a real estate appraiser. When the real estate market crashed and the appraisal industry slowed, she got side jobs driving for Fed Ex and as a medical records clerk. Money was tight, but her children did not feel deprived because she found every opportunity for free fun, like concerts in the park, picnics, and family game nights. Jea recalls that one of the low points was swallowing her pride to ask for “waived fee” educational and entertainment opportunities for her children. Somehow, with gall and guts, she found a way for them to participate in all the sporting activities, from karate and tennis to T-ball and hockey.