May 1986 -  November 1986
Age 29

"I spent my last night in the Kirkland House looking out the curtainless window,
at the trees and the night sky, remembering six years of love and heartache ..."

Thursday morning
May 15, 1986

A brand-new journal ... how nice!  One of my favorite things!  I always get this feeling of "endless possibilities" whenever I begin a new journal ... as though anything could happen within these 120 pages ... the feeling that good things are ahead.

I'm 28 years old. I've just had a baby, a lovely son whom I adore. I've got two precious preschool age daughters as well, and a slightly-shabby-but-comfortable home that I love. My marriage is usually in a state of flux, but this is one of those days when I'm feeling optimistic. At the moment my life is very much centered around home and family. The past few days I've been struggling with a slight case of "postpartum let-down" ... nothing too serious ... just a reaction to the overwhelming events of the last month. (There is also the fact that I'm recovering from major surgery.) Having a newborn in the house again is exhilarating but exhausting. I can't predict from one moment to the next how I'll be feeling: bouncy and full of energy in the morning (like now) ... crabby and distracted at lunchtime ... weepy and tired by mid-afternoon ... totally foggy in the evening. Sometimes it goes like this, other times it's all reversed - I feel rotten in the morning, on top of things by afternoon. It's craziness. I'd forgotten how topsy-turvy an infant makes life for awhile. Still, at the outset of this journal, I am for the most part a happy person. I have my complaints and my disappointments. On occasion I feel like everything is caving in on me. I'm also extremely isolated here at home with the kids ... we have no phone, I don't have a car ... I have no close friends ... outside of family, neighbors and pen pals I have very little contact with other people. It can get very lonely at times. My kids are great - I've said this often - but they're not grown-ups, and sometimes I miss the company of other adults. But I've been a rather private, solitary sort of person anyway. Some days the isolation bothers me, other days I actually enjoy it. I know that eventually the time will come when my kids are grown and gone, and then there will be plenty of time and opportunity for me to get back into the world. For now, though, I am mostly content with the way things are, and I don't feel a lot of motivation to change anything. I'm not much of an adventurer. I like things safe, neat and predictable. Maybe this means I'm a coward, or that I'm missing out and don't even know it. Or maybe it just means that I've found my niche, and I'm comfortable with its small but significant rewards ...

I worry sometimes about what seems to be my distinct lack of ambition. I look back on my life and cannot pinpoint any time when I had clear goals in mind, at least as far as education or career were concerned. There was never anything I particularly wanted to "do" or "be," except maybe to have a home and family. Being married and having children and a house to take care of are the closest things to actual GOALS that I've ever had. (There is also a legitimate but largely ignored desire to express myself through writing and art ... but this is more of a hobby, at this point, than a career goal.) Maybe this makes me a throwback to another era. I don't know a lot of women who have actively sought out the sort of domestic life I've settled into. It just isn't the thing to do anymore. Women don't stay home and do babies and housework these days ... they've got careers and daycare and trendy lifestyles and active social lives...

... And here I sit, surrounded by diapers, laundry baskets, toys, dirty dishes, cookie crumbs ... wiping noses, adjusting pigtails, re-heating Spaghetti-O's, picking up toys. It isn't awfully glamorous, and it certainly isn't as challenging as some careers. The redundancy of it drives me nuts sometimes. I work & I work, and I give & I give, and still there is always MORE TO DO, usually the same thing I just finished doing two hours ago. It's annoying beyond belief; there is never a sense of having completed anything. Even on those rare occasions when I do manage to get the mess under control and the kids settled and things more or less in order, I can't count on it lasting more than ten minutes ...

... Still, as I have said, I am mostly happy - frustrations, inconveniences and loneliness aside. The rewards of raising children - of BEING here for them, day in and day out, and knowing that I'm giving them a fundamentally healthy start in life by doing so - the rewards of that are beyond measure, beyond description. It's like something I read in an article by Dr. Burton White the other day: he said, "I am totally convinced that the rewards (of staying home & actively raising your children) are as good as anything life can bring." I know that I have never felt better about what I'm doing.

With the little lights of my life.
May 1986


Friday 7 a.m.
May 16, 1986

Just me - no kids up yet. Kyle had me up for a feeding an hour ago, but now he's back in his crib. (I don't expect it to last, though!) I can hear birds singing; it's going to be another pretty day.

Ray didn't come home last night at all. The same old song and dance. I have no idea where he is ... at work? passed out on someone's sofa? in jail? laying in a ditch? Furthermore, I don't care. Yesterday's "optimism" where my marriage is concerned has turned into today's pessimism. This is how it goes: one day I love him, the next day I am utterly disgusted with him. He sure doesn't make it easy to be consistent.

I was right ... Kylie started making noise and "asking" to get back up for awhile. I fed him, burped him, cuddled him, tickled the soles of his feet, whispered in his ear -- then he suddenly nodded off and I put him back to bed. (The contrary little PICKLE ... I'm not used to getting up at 6 a.. every morning, and I'm pooped!) Then Jamie came wandering out into the kitchen, while I was sterilizing nipples, and requested waffles for breakfast. I took a huge block of frozen Aunt Jemimas straight out of the freezer and handed them to her, uncooked, saying "Here you go." She burst into incredulous giggles. She's so much fun to tease. After I toasted her two waffles and got her settled at the table, Kacie suddenly exploded into the kitchen. "I CAN'T WALK!" she screamed, and then tottered dramatically across the kitchen and flung herself across a chair. A very theatrical entrance! Once she saw that waffles were being served, however, she perked right up. "Where's MY plate?" she demanded. "Where'd MY wopple go??"

And so it goes ... another morning has begun at the P. house. I just took a shower and got dressed, and have poured my first cup of coffee. I've sent the girls to pick out their own clothes: what will they come up with? (Kacie: light blue pants, no shirt .. sent her back .. OK, here comes the shirt - her red, white & blue sailor shirt. Not bad! Jamie: white & pink "Orcas Island" T-shirt, gray sweatpants. Nice choice. I'm proud of them both!)


My father-in-law showed up unexpectedly around noon to visit the kids and I, and to see the baby. I was glad the house was semi-neat and that I'd had the presence of mind to brush my hair and put on a little makeup before he popped in. I realize how unimportant this stuff is, basically, but it just makes me feel better when he catches me on top of things, instead of wallowing in disorder ... !

Oops - interrupted by the mail. Good news and bad news. The good: a 27 page letter from my favorite pen pal, Deanne Vasiles, and KYLE'S HOSPITAL PICTURES!! The bad news: a warrant for Ray's arrest! Maybe that explains where he was last night.

I'll get back to my father-in-law story later. Right now I want to gaze at Kyle's picture (it's really cute) and worry about my jerk of a husband.


Saturday 10 a.m.
May 17, 1986

Things are more or less OK. First of all, Ray knows about the warrant and has promised to have the matter taken care of by this evening. We all know how unreliable Ray's "promises" are, generally, but I am ever optimistic ... or am I merely foolish?? ... and I'm gonna trust him on this one. (He's working today, incidentally, so I'm alone here with the kids.) I'm still irked with him for not coming home on Thursday night - an error that he compounded last night by not coming home until midnight - I made him sleep on the sofa and took the girls into my bed with me, just to ensure that he stayed OUT of it. Just before we all fell asleep, around midnight, he came into the bedroom and apologized to me. The usual stuff. I was very cool. I neither forgave nor excused his behavior ... I just said "Whatever," and rolled over and went to sleep. He said he's been working "double shifts" again, which I'm beginning to suspect is a bunch of baloney. I think he's just been dodging the police until he could come up with the $250 bail money to stay out of jail. He said he'll be able to pay the bail this afternoon ("So I won't have to hide," he said) and that he'll be home "early" with groceries and things we need (I'm out of pads ... bottle liners ... stamps ... etc.)

By the way - for the sake of posterity, so you won't think my husband is a criminal - this whole warrant business stems from an ordinary traffic ticket he got in March. The problems stem from the fact that he didn't show up for his hearing. Hence the warrant.

Songs heard on the radio tonight that make me thing of Kyle: Cherish, Love Will Keep Us Together, You've Made Me So Very Happy ("I'm so glad you/Came into my life"), I Love You Just The Way You Are


Sunday afternoon
May 18, 1986

Ray did pay his bail last night - Sheryl loaned him the money - so everything truly is OK. It's 1:30 in the afternoon now, and Kylie and his Daddy have been asleep together in our bed for two hours. Every once in a while I sneak in and take a peek at the two of them ... father and son, side by side, deep in sleep. They're quite a pair.

My father-in-law anecdote from the other day, which was interrupted, is basically a dull story without a point so I'll skip it, except to say that he ended up taking the girls down to feed the ducks at the Kirkland Marina, and then fruit shopping at Safeway. Also that he expressed his usual concern about Ray's drinking ("Do you think it would help if we all sat down and talked to him?" he said).

Jamie: "What's that sound I hear?"
Mom: "It's not the ice cream man, if that's what you're thinking."
Jamie: "What's a 'greem man'?"
Mom: "ICE CREAM man."
Jamie: "The ice cream man's comin'??"
Mom: "No ... I said it's NOT the ice cream man."
Jamie: "I didn't say it was the ice cream man."
Mom: "I KNOW you didn't ... I said, it's NOT the ice cream man!"
Jamie: "But I didn't say it WAS the ice cream man!"
Mom: "I KNOW YOU DIDN'T ... I DID!!!"
Jamie: "The ice cream man's comin' ??"


Tuesday 9 a.m.
May 20, 1986

Rainy morning. The world outside is dark and clouded-over ... inside our home, things are warm and cozy ...

I sit, Indian-style, pajama clad, nestled in a corner of the sofa, drinking coffee from my new "Mother" mug. The house is very warm. In one corner of the living room, tucked into the white basket, the baby sleeps peacefully, oblivious to his sisters'  bickering. ("Kacie - we SHARE! SHARE!")  Laundry tumbles endlessly in the dryer; "Sesame Street," as always, is on the tube. Very typical morning in progress.

"Mr. P." (as I've been calling Kyle!) surprised me last night. I've been quite smugly bragging to everybody about his "wonderfully regular" schedule ... how he wakes up to be fed at the same predictable hours each night (11 p.m., 3 a.m., 6:30 a.m.) ... I made the comment to Ray that you could set your watch by our son. (I dimly recall saying the same thing about the girls.) So of course last night he juggled everything around. I was up at 1:30 a.m. and again at 5 a.m. Torture! I guess he just wanted to show me who's the boss!

Meet the new boss.
Spring 1986

The first middle-of-the-night feeding, the one that usually comes around 3 a.m., is never much of a problem. At that hour things are so drowsy and quiet, Kyle sucks his bottle right down (about four ounces' worth) and slips back to sleep immediately - and so do I. Actually, I sort of enjoy that feeding. It's nice to be completely alone with my son, listening to his sweet singsong noises as he drinks his formula, enjoying the comfort of holding a baby close ... it's lovely. The second feeding, on the other hand, is usually a killer, because he wants to stay up for an hour or two after he eats. If this feeding comes at 6:30 or 7:00 I can handle it, because it's time to get up anyway. But if it hits any earlier than that -- like it did this morning -- then it throws me out of whack for the rest of the day -- unless, by some miracle, I can persuade him to fall right back to sleep after he eats. Luckily I did manage to coax him back to sleep this morning. We got up again at 8 a.m.; I was awakened by the sound of his cry, and this ominous warning from Jamie to Kacie: "Put that back in him's room or Mama's going to be ANGRY!" (Never did figure out what that was all about.)

I've been up for ninety minutes, and this is what I've accomplished so far: changed Kyle, fed him two small bottles, put him down for a nap ... fixed breakfast for the girls and I (Frosted Flakes with sliced banana) ... made a pot of coffee ... put a load of clean wet laundry in the dryer, set some cloth diapers to soak ... dressed Kacie ... put bottles and nipples to soak in the sink ... drank two cups of coffee.

Now only 13 or so more hours to kill until bedtime.

Ray was drunk again last night when he got home at 7:30 (four hours at the tavern will do that to a person), but at least he was in a good mood and wasn't overly-silly. I did laundry all evening and Ray fixed dinner for the two us ... scrambled eggs, minute steaks, hash browns. And he spent a lot of time with the kids ... rough-housing with the girls on the living room floor, then laying on the bed "talking" to Kylie. He is totally enamored of that baby. I'll still having a hard time BELIEVING his reaction to Kyle. Ray showing such prolonged and unabashed sentimentality .. ?  I've got to give the man credit: the connection between the two of them was immediate   ...  and lifelong.  I wish I could count on him to be home by at least 6:30 every night, though, instead of never knowing what time he'll come crashing in. Some consistency here would be very welcome. He could still spend an hour or two with his friends at Dave's Place after work, and I would have some needed support at the most emotionally overloaded portion of my day. I plan to talk to him about it tonight. I'm going to ask him to please start coming home at more or less the same time every night, so I can have some help with the kids and so they can have some time with their Daddy. I don't know if it will do any good. He'll probably just say "OK" and then forget all about it. But it's worth a try.

I'm just trying to do too damned much by myself. Yesterday, for instance, I was dead-tired all day, and yet I still forced myself to do all of this basically unnecessary stuff -- vacuuming, tons of laundry, cleaning my room, etc. -- in addition to the usual kids, kids, kids. It's too much. I NEED SOME HELP. I haven't reached a crisis point yet, but I think I feel one coming. I'm afraid that one of these days I'm simply going to come apart at the seams unless I get some support and assistance from SOMEBODY ...

I've been sporadically awful with the girls this past week or so. It's like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions at once. I finally get settled into the armchair with a ravenous, screaming Kyle and a warm bottle of formula, after ten minutes of frantic scurrying and hurrying to accommodate him ... and just at that moment, Jamie approaches me and plaintively requests help with the button on her pants. Then Kacie begins hopping up and down, screaming for an orange. Or else they innocently request a story or a cookie or a minute of my attention, but they catch me at an impossible moment: when I'm up to my elbows in dishwater, or heading off for a quick shower. Then I have to say, "Not now, honey" or "Maybe later." They're not used to being put off so frequently, and my explanations ("The baby just keeps me so darned busy right now!") or my attempts at reassurance ("It won't be like this forever") don't do a lot of good. All they know is that their Mama, once so approachable and available, is now too busy for them.

I find myself screeching at them over the most trivial things, and then Jamie is devastated and Kacie is hysterical and I feel like dirt. I always apologize right away, but by then the damage is done and the words are already out. I wish I could make them understand that my love for them hasn't diminished, even if I don't have as much time (or patience) right now as usual. Kyle's arrival hasn't taken away anything: it has enhanced the love I feel for my whole family. I'm just not sure the girls know that. All they get from me is a steady stream of dictums and denials ... "Quit running in the house while the baby is sleeping!" "No, you can't paint right now." "Pick up those Legs and quit jumping on the furniture!" "Don't touch the baby's bottle!" I open my mouth and this stuff just seems to pop out all by itself. Then the ugly words hang there in the air, echoing hatefully, and I wish I could take them back. But I can't. Words aren't retractable. The girls stare at me with huge, hurt eyes, and I then I think That's it, I've ruined them. Scarred their fragile little psyches beyond repair. As a mother I rank somewhere between Joan Crawford and The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe ...


Wednesday afternoon
May 21, 1986

Good grief -- it's 1:00 in the afternoon and I'm still in my BATHROBE. The house is an incredible mess, the girls haven't had their hair brushed in two days, Kyle's unwashed bottles are strewn all over the place ... all I've done since I got up at 8 a.m. is feed and dress the kids, cuddle the baby and drink coffee. I haven't even had a shower. Now Kylie is down for his "long" afternoon nap (usually about 3 hours), and instead of grabbing the opportunity and running with it, I'm just sitting here in a total fog, eating Ritz crackers out of the box because I'm too tired to fix myself a real lunch ... wondering if I'll be dressed by the time Ray gets home tonight ...

3 p.m.

Slightly better. I'm dressed, anyway (skipped the shower, though) and I've got the kitchen cleaned up and Kyle's bottles washed. I've even got some beef stew (canned, with a few extra potatoes and carrots added) going on the stove for dinner later. Battling the feeling that everything I do is a waste of time ... it just has to be done all over again tomorrow ...



Thursday noon
May 22, 1995

Bits and pieces:

* Definite case of the doldrums developing. I am thrilled with my new baby, but not particularly thrilled with my life at the moment. This will pass.

* My father-in-law "popped in" again unexpectedly today -- this time he caught me in my robe, looking as unwashed and listless as I feel. So what. He brought each of the girls a Mickey Mouse hat from Disneyland, took Polaroids of them & of Kyle, then took the girls to feed the ducks again. 

The girls in the Mickey Mouse hats their Grandpa brought them
May 1986



May 23, 1986

Hard to find time to write ... every time I sit down with a pen and a cup of coffee, something interrupts me: Kyle wakes up hungry, Jamie asks me for help with her letters, somebody knocks on the door ...

For a while, therefore, I won't be able to waste time with preliminaries and rambling ... I'll have to get to the point QUICKLY.

Accomplished one teensy thing yesterday - cleaned out my desk!  Finally. May not sound like much, but it makes me feel a notch more organized, and every little bit helps.

Ray bought us a new TV last night - a nice little 12" black and white portable, $40 at Silo. This is to replace the portable TV that I brought into the marriage, the one Terry Hunt and I got for our apartment, which gradually fell apart. Now he also wants to buy a small microwave oven.

I'm still crabbier with the girls than I mean to be, but the rational part of me realizes this is temporary ... more a result of sleep deprivation and biochemical changes than anything else. Not necessarily an indication of shoddy mothering. I am too hard on myself, I think.

A couple of days ago on Donahue, the topic was postpartum depression. Talk about excellent timing! I sat there for the whole hour and drank in every word. Would you believe that some women are so psychologically crippled by p.p.d. that they completely lose their minds? I mean, one lady flipped out totally and threw her one month old baby off a bridge. (She's in prison now.) Another lady started hearing voices and having anxiety attacks that lasted for six hours at a time. Some of these women were utterly unable to function. It was incredible. I felt sorry for them, but mostly I just felt relieved that my own p.p. symptoms haven't gone much beyond the occasional bout of tears, or maybe raising my voice to the girls. I'm feeling a little sad and blah and weary a lot of the time right now, but it doesn't feel insurmountable. Mainly I just need to get my little world into some kind of order, then establish some goals for myself -- some things to look forward to -- and I'll be fine.

I also need to stop trying to do everything by myself. It just can't be done. (Good help, however, is hard to find. Terry S. promised to come over and clean up the girls' bedroom for me -- a job that I just haven't had the time or energy to do -- but then last night she came over to say she didn't "want" to do it, after all. I was furious. "That's fine," I snapped at her. "No one helps me around here anyway." "Neat," she said in her infuriatingly smug 14 yr. old tone of voice, and stomped out of the house.)

Where can I find reliable, responsible and CHEAP "mother's help"?? This is a priority.

The other night I sat on the sofa, giving Kyle his bottle and listening to music on my new tape player, through headphones. Earlier in the day I had taped a couple of songs off the radio, and as Kylie happily sucked away at his bottle, one of them began to play -- Pink Floyd's "Mother":

Hush now, baby baby don't you cry
Mama's gonna make all your nightmares come true
Mama's gonna put all her fears into you
Mama's gonna keep you here under her wing
She won't let you fly but she might let you sing
Mama's gonna keep Baby cozy and warm ...
... Hush, Mama's gonna help build the wall ...

All of a sudden, sitting there holding my tiny baby son -  his blue eyes fastened to mine -  the words of the song pierced my heart like a bullet. By the time the song was over, I was in tears. I stood by the living room window, rocking Kylie in my arms and weeping uncontrollably. It was just this incredibly poignant, private, touching moment ... I can't even explain it. It was as though I had just realized, for the first time, that I'm now the mother of a son, and that someday he'll grow up to be a man, and that I'm responsible for getting him there in one piece. I thought about all the women who have lost sons in war. Dear God, how do they ever survive the loss?? I thought about all the pain that lies ahead for my son, and for me. It terrifies me. It is so much responsibility. Can I handle it? Will Kyle be OK? Or will I indeed "put all of my fears into him"? Lord, please help me be a strong, responsible, good mother to the baby. He is so small and so dependent on me. Don't let me mess him up.

I still can't listen to "Mother" (20 years later) without remembering that drowsy spring afternoon  ...  

4:30 p.m.

A momentary lull. Kyle is sleeping, the girls are running around outside. Worrying that Ray won't come home tonight ... it's Friday, the day after payday, the beginning of a three-day Memorial Day weekend ... I have this hopeless gut feeling that he won't bother coming home.



Saturday 11:10 a.m.
May 24, 1986

Well, unfortunately I called that one accurately. He didn't come home, and I am furious. He is such an unbelievable jerk.


Still no Ray. I refuse to sit here and simmer, though, so I'll write about something pleasant. Jamie and Kacie just brought me little bunches of wild clover ... I was properly appreciative, thanking them with hugs and oranges. They took their oranges out to the picnic table in the front yard, and I sat on the porch with my coffee and watched them. It's cloudy but warm: I showered half an hour ago and put on clean clothes, but already I feel damp and unclean. I got plenty of sleep last night (albeit interrupted sleep), which helps a little. It sent something like this:

10:30 p.m.  Put Kylie to bed. Jamie and I slept in my big bed.

2:00 a.m.
  Quick easy 20 minute feeding, then back to bed.

5:30 a.m.
   Another 20 minute feeding, then back to bed for more sleep.

8:00 a.m.
  Kylie's awake; everybody's up.

Kylie is getting so cute! The little red bumps ("stork bites") and the peeling on his face are clearing up, his left eye (which has been watery since birth) also is clearing up - his eyes are enormous, blue, pretty - and this morning the little "stump" finally fell off his belly button. He is such an alert baby, so interested in voices and faces. When he looks at me, I hold my breath: will this be the day he smiles at me? I can hardly wait!

Big Sister Jamie gets to know her new baby brother  ...  

There is an interesting and special "connection" already between Kyle and Jamie. His response to her presence near him is always one of alert fascination. He stops EVERYTHING to look at her. The feeling is mutual: Jamie is tenderly protective and affectionate towards her baby brother. "Can I hold him?" she asks me several times a day. She puts a big pillow on her lap and I lay the baby on top of it, and she coos and tickles him while he stares at her and waves his hands around in the air, making little noises in his throat and catching strands of her long hair in his fingers ...

... and so does Big Sister Kacie.
(She said "I godda bay-bee BRUDDER.")
May 1986

Kacie's love for Kyle is noisier, bumpier ... not as gentle but no less ardent. She grabs his head suddenly and plants a huge wet kiss on his mouth, leaving him startled and gasping for air. "I wanna hold him TOO!" she shouts, and runs to my bedroom, where she grabs a pillow from my bed and lugs it out to the living room. I place the baby on her lap and she gives him a look of pleasure, curiosity,  slight distaste (especially if he has formula all over his mouth). "Oh, cute fingers?" she says. "Cute hands?" Above all else, his hands fascinate her.



Monday 10 a.m.
May 26, 1986

Memorial Day. Cloudy, rainy -- and muggy. I'm so damp from the humidity that my p.j.s are sticking to me like cellophane. Yesterday it was sunny and hot ... got up to 84º in the afternoon. Ray got out the wading pool, and the girls enjoyed their first "swim" of the year ... Kacie wound up with a lulu of a sunburn ... it was so hot that I didn't even put clothes on the baby, just a diaper and (when he napped) a light blanket. This morning the sun is hidden behind a filter of haze, but it is still uncomfortably warm already. The front door is wide open, and the girls are dressed in terry cloth sunsuits and nothing else. I will take a shower shortly, which will make me feel clean and cool temporarily, but I fully expect this to be another sweaty, grouchy day. Ray is home, of course, this being a holiday. He finally came home on Saturday afternoon with his lamest excuse to date: he says he "lost his car keys," so he wasn't able to come home Friday night. As usual, the moment he walked through the door, all the fight went out of me. I'd been planning to rant and rave, but by the time he finally got here I was so defeated emotionally (and so run-down physically) that I simply didn't have the internal resources to make a scene. Instead I've managed to maintain a sort of low-level anger all weekend. Ray has spent the past couple of days grocery-shopping ($200 worth) and cooking (chicken tacos Saturday night, T-bones last night, hamburgers tonight) in an obvious attempt to placate me. I've been minimally appreciative, distancing myself from him emotionally as much as possible. Whether this is intentional or not, I can't say. I suppose it is although it feels more like reflex. I'm just so damned tired of being hurt and ignored.

My anger with Ray is manifesting itself in headaches, a loss of appetite and unpredictable burst of temper directed at anyone who happens to be nearby. (I nearly bit Terry's head off last night, and now she's not speaking to me.) At night I have vivid, brutal dreams that I'm hitting Ray and screaming at him: I wake up afterwards feeling drained.

He is not making things any better. He made a huge stink yesterday when I was asked him for five dollars -- FIVE CRUMMY DOLLARS. I felt positively degraded, having to "beg" like that. He is already starting to badger me about sex, too, regardless of the fact that I loathe the idea of making love to him (or anyone) right now. The baby was just born a few weeks ago! He picks on the girls mercilessly ... as a parent he has all the finesse of Atilla The Hun. ("You FINISH YOUR PLATE. Eat EVERY BITE. Nobody's leavin' the table till you FINISH YOUR PLATE. OK then, dammit, go to BED.")   And of course there is his drinking, which bothers me now more than it ever has in the six years we've been together. Perhaps it's because I've been abstaining myself. The past few months I've practically become a teetotaler, at first because I was pregnant (although I must admit to a lapse, here and there), and now because drinking makes it hard to function as a mother. Being sober allows me to see Ray's problem with more clarity and objectivity than usual, and what I see is appalling: the man lives and breathes beer. He cracks open can after can after can, from the moment he gets out of bed in the morning until he goes to bed at night. When the beer runs out, he hops into the car and he's off to the store for more. I have seen him literally take our last few pennies in the world and buy a can of beer with it. Our carport is filled to overflowing with hundreds, maybe thousands of empty cans and bottles. The car reeks of beer. That's the part that scares me the most, I think -- the way he blithely combines drinking and driving. We can't go anywhere without stopping at a store first so he can buy a couple of beers for the road, and then he drives along with an open can sitting between his knees, taking hefty swigs whenever no one is looking.  When he's finished, he crumples the empty can with his fist and stashes it under his car seat with the rest of the empties.  He doesn't see anything wrong with this, even when the kids are in the car with us. He truly believes that his driving ability remains unimpaired, even after a full day and evening of drinking. I'm at the point now where the idea of getting into a car with him -- especially our car, with its crappy brakes -- terrifies me. I'm afraid that one of these days he's going to kill us.

Tuesday morning
May 27, 1986

("You wanna piece-selt? Come get your piece-selt." Kacie, talking about seat belts.)

The three day weekend is over and Ray has returned to work ... life around here can get back to normal. I have recently realized something odd: when Ray isn't home, I bitch and complain ... but the fact is that my life is much more comfortable and relaxed when he's at work!!  When my husband is underfoot I get no work done, the kids' routines are disrupted, thing just sort of fall apart temporarily, and I can't wait for him to GO BACK TO WORK ...

The problems arise when I don't know where he is, or when he leaves me stranded here without groceries ... and, of course, when he stays away for days at a time. As long as I know he's at work, it's OK. I relax, I don't mind him being gone, I can enjoy my solitude. It's when he's out drinking and running around that I start to worry and get angry. He leaves us sitting here without milk or diapers or even a couple of dollars ... I wind up borrowing from the neighbors, AGAIN ... and all of a sudden solitude begins to feel more like imprisonment ...

But that's enough complaining about Ray. Next week he takes five days of vacation (yikes) so I'd better enjoy my week of calm and routine while I can.

Yesterday was another uncomfortably warm, humid day, in spite of the clouds and occasional sprinkles. At one point our freezer konked out, and Ray spent a frantic afternoon trying to repair it and salvage $100 worth of frozen food. (He appears to have been successful: it's running OK this morning.) In the evening he grilled some hot dogs on the Webber. Jamie fell asleep on the sofa and wouldn't wake up for dinner, so we just put her to bed; Kacie sat at the kitchen table with her Daddy and ate dinner with him while he watched a Chuck Norris movie. When they finished eating, the two of them went into our bedroom to lay in bed and watch TV ... I could hear them laughing and giggling. Kacie enjoyed the attention, and I was glad to see Ray treating her with gentleness and affection, rather than hollering at her to finish her dinner ...

Kyle had his first colic attack last night ... at least, that's what I think it was. He cried from 7:30 until 10:30, off and on, and would not be comforted. I swaddled him, rocked him, burped him, offered him endless bottles, sang to him. Nothing worked. Ray held him for five minute while I choked down a quick hot dog, but then he began wailing again and it was back to Mama. I remained relatively calm, but it bothered me to see him so unhappy. He's been such a content baby until now: I hated his discomfort. Shortly after 10 p.m. he had a brief bout of diarrhea and let out a couple of massive burps, and that seemed to be the end of the problem. I cleaned him up and tucked him into his crib, and he slept for six straight heavenly hours. At 4:30 a.m. he woke up again. Jamie heard the commotion and wandered out to the living room, where I was feeding him. She'd skipped dinner and was hungry, so while I fed Kyle, she sat next to us on the sofa, munching on Ritz Crackers and drinking Hi-C. We watched the sun come up and listened to the birds chirping ... Ray got up and left for work: he kissed the three of us goodbye ... when Kylie was finished, I put him to bed again, and then Jamie and I hopped into my bed, where we slept until 9 a.m.

Peg and Barbara stopped in unexpectedly yesterday afternoon, incidentally, to see the kids and pick up the rent money. Peg has just returned from Arizona, and she brought some pictures of Patty and John's new baby, Emily, who was born two weeks after Kyle on May 19.

Today is another slightly overcast, warmish morning. I'm just out of the shower, feeling fresh and ready for another day of Mommyhood. Kyle is asleep in his basket, across the room from me; the girls, in shorts, T-shirts and bare feet, are running around in the front yard. The door is open ... "Divorce Court" on TV ... my coffee is thick and black as tar. I'm feeling pretty darned good today, come to think of it. Emotionally and physically.

Spring 1986

Saturday afternoon
May 31, 1986

I seem to have developed a neat little pelvic infection. Dr. Bell has put me on doxycycline, but so far it hasn't done much to lessen the tenderness in my abdomen. I feel AWFUL. Another extremely hot day ... we've had a string of them this week. Even my pen is melting.

Technically this is the first day of Ray's vacation. He's gone down to the tavern to watch the fights, but has promised to be home shortly. (I'll believe it when I see it.) The girls are next door swimming at Charlie's, and Kyle has just gone down for a nap. So I'm ALONE! Temporarily.

Tuesday morning
June 3, 1986

Ray's vacation is now in full swing. So far it hasn't been too bad ... he mowed the front yard yesterday with a borrowed lawnmower (and had his usual awful allergic reaction afterwards) ... today he plans to tackle the backyard, where the grass is four feet high in some places. So there'll be lots more sneezing and grumpiness. Tomorrow he's taking me to see my doctor (my infection appears to be clearing up, finally, after several days of mild pain) and the day after that we take Kyle to see his doctor. So we're keeping him busy. I'm sure he would prefer to sit around the tavern all week, drinking beer -- maybe by the end of the week it will have deteriorated into precisely that -- but right now, having him "under foot" is only mildly inconvenient (he just hopped into the shower: now I'll have to wait another hour to take mine) and I'm enjoying the luxury of knowing where he is, for a change.

Summer is definitely here. We've had a string of hot, sunny days. The girls play outside from early morning until early evening: for the first time in their little lives, they are part of a "gang" of kids -- the Harlan and Inman kids, and Brian & Andrea from next door -- and they've discovered the joys of running with the pack. Jamie, especially, is thrilled with her newfound social life ... her "friends" are everything to her. It's exciting to watch her world expanding beyond the parameters of this house, even though my heart tells me that this is the beginning of her breaking away from me ... my babies are growing up ...



The girls LOVED running around the neighborhood with their gang of friends;
here they're having a 'parade' down 10th Avenue
Spring/Summer 1986

They play SO HARD all day long, and at night they sleep just as hard. I tiptoe into their bedroom in the middle of the night, and they are so deeply asleep ... I cover them with the blankets they've kicked off, kiss them on their foreheads, whisper "I love you sweetheart" ... and they never stir. I wish I could sleep like that.

By the way, Kyle slept from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. last night - wow! - and then from 5:30 a.m. till 8 a.m.! When I put him down last night at 9:30, I hurriedly ran to bed myself, fearing that he'd be awake in an hour and wanting to grab as much sleep as I could. Ray hates it when I go to bed early. He grumbled and complained, but I just tuned him out and fell asleep. He's so insensitive! I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and immediately thought "Something's wrong." Why wasn't the baby awake? Why hadn't he woken up before this? I went in to check on him and he was just beginning to stir. (We are very much attuned to each other, incidentally. I intuitively know when he's about to wake, even before he utters a sound. I love this feeling of being "in synch" with him.) I doubt that he'll be sleeping through the night consistently for a while yet -- it's too soon -- but it sure was a nice break last night.

Kylie will be one month old tomorrow. Sometimes when he's gazing at me, his eyes seem to "smile" a little bit -- they take on an amused look -- and a dimple appears above his upper lip. It looks for all the world as though he's trying to break into a smile!

Other things about him:

* He "sings" while he drinks his bottle
* He squeaks in indignation when left alone for too long
* I think his eyes will remain blue

Phil Donahue: "I can't think of a better start in life than being a male with two older sisters." (Honest to God! He just said that!!)



Wednesday 8 a.m.
June 4, 1986

Kyle is one month old today. To celebrate this momentous occasion, he smiled at me for the first time this morning!! I was delighted! :)

Yesterday I finally finished putting together the nursery. I can't believe it took this long - initially I hoped it would be done before Kyle was born - but now that it's finished, I'm very pleased. It's lovely. The "electric blue" that Ray painted the walls while I was in the hospital has gradually grown on me. It took some getting used to. You walk into that room and the color knocks your socks off!!  My tactful way of saying I hated it.  But over the past few weeks I've grown to enjoy how vivid and lively Kyle's blue room looks, especially in the morning with the sun streaming through the window. And I added a few touches of my own that helped tone down the blue and balance things out a bit. Last Sunday, Mom and the girls and I went shopping at Drug Emporium, where I bought a roll of white contact paper. When I got home I cut the paper into big "cloud" shapes, and put them on the wall above the crib. That changed the look of the room immediately. Then I took Jamie's old balloon wall hanging and centered it on the wall amid the "clouds," to give the appearance of balloons floating in the sky. Even Ray, who had been skeptical about me putting anything on the walls, had to admit that it looked really great. Then yesterday I finally put up the shelves, on the opposite side of the room, and filled them with stuffed animals and knickknacks. Finally, I picked up clothes and junk that had been strewn around the room and put everything away. When I was done, the bedroom looked so beautiful, it took my breath away! I love it.

Today I have a 3:30 appt. with Dr. Bell ... probably the last time I'll be seeing him for a long time, if ever. Feeling sad at the thought. Of all the o.b.'s and gynecologists I've dealt with, he was the nicest. I will miss him.

Cloudier and cooler this morning than it's been in some time ... it feels delicious. Kyle woke the girls and I up shortly before 7 a.m. this morning, so our day got off to an earlier start than any of us would have liked. (Ray, of course, is in bed right now, happily snoozing the day away. It must be nice to have a real vacation.)

Kyle smiled at me while he was taking a break in his feeding. I had him sitting on my leg, facing me, when all of a sudden his eyes crinkled and his mouth popped open and he broke into an adorable smile, looking straight at me. At first I thought it was just another normal facial contortion, the uncontrollable kind that newborns are always making. But he held the expression for a second or two, and suddenly I knew that this was it. He was SMILING AT MAMA!! THRILLS!!

I was right about him not sleeping through the night again, by the way. Last night he went to sleep at 9:30 (as he'd done the night before) but then he woke at 2:30 for a quick feeding, and then again at 7:00, as I said before, for a more leisurely bottle. Now he's back in bed.



Monday morning
June 9, 1986

Several days later. I don't write much when Ray is around ... his presence is too distracting. Things have been OK, though. He went back to work this morning after nine days, and - I'm amazed to hear myself saying this! - I'm sorry to see him go. It was nice having him around! He was in a generally cheerful mood (he drank a lot, but at least he did it right here at home), and he did a lot of work around the place ... also some "special favors" for me, like having my film developed (nine rolls, dating back to 4/85), buying scrapbooks for Kyle and I,  fixing the turntable on the stereo so we can play records again.

Tony R. was here for most of the weekend. He came home with Ray on Saturday night and slept on our sofa, and then yesterday afternoon he mowed the backyard for us (to pay off the $50 he owed Ray).

Today is the first day that I've had the house "to myself" (kids don't count - they're outside all day anyway).



June 11, 1986
9:30 a.m.

Kyle just "met" Sister Belle for the first time!  Now all three of my children have enjoyed my old dolly with the big smiling face.

Kyle had his first appointment with Dr. Watts yesterday. Most of the news is good: he is in marvelously good health, gaining weight steadily (he's gained 3 lbs., 5 oz. since he was born: he's now up to 11 pounds) and inches (21 inches now - that's 1-1/4" since he was born). He gurgled and smiled at the little Garfield toy in the examining room, peed on me twice while he was laying on the table waiting for the doctor, and really seemed to be enjoying the novelty of the situation ... UNTIL the nurse had to poke him in both heels to draw blood (for the PKU test)! That was the bad news. He screamed for 15 minutes, and all attempts to comfort him failed. I felt like my heart was breaking. Poor little guy. Fortunately, this came at the tail end of the appointment so we could leave immediately, and the drive home (in Grandpa P.'s air conditioned car) finally seemed to soothe him.

I like Dr. Watts, by the way. She is the third pediatrician we've had since Jamie was born, and she is far and away the best. Talking to her was like talking to a kindly older aunt. She patted me on the arm from time to time and complimented me on Kyle's good health, and I felt really comfortable with her, charmed by her lilting Southern accent and cheerfully disheveled appearance, pleased with her calm and her confidence. I feel as though we've finally found the right doctor for our kids.

Kyle is wonderful. I am so delighted with this baby! It's just amazing to me how quickly he has become an established member of this family. It's like he's always been here. I can't imagine life without him: he was meant to be!

In the five short weeks since his birth, noticeable changes have taken place. For one thing, he's bigger! Plumper, fleshier, heavier ... I can feel the new weightiness of him when I hold him. And he's more alert and aware of things around him now, especially his family. He gazes intently at our faces and turns his head to follow our voices. When he looks at me, particularly at mealtime, he squirms and coos and sticks out his tongue and bats wildly at his left ear -- his way of telling me he's hungry. He watches me while he eats, with enormous, unblinking blue eyes ... the same drooping-slightly-at-the-corners, sad-looking-even-when-he's-happy eyes that Ray and the girls have. "P. eyes," I guess. They all have the same basic eye shape, although in differing colors: Ray and Jamie have brown eyes, Kacie's are blue, and now I think Kyle's may be blue, too. Funny how that worked out. Secretly I am delighted by how much my children resemble each other ... I love that thread of continuity, the similarities they share. Just what I always wanted: a complete set of matching children. How nice! :):):)

A lazy Saturday morning, hanging out in front of the TV
May 1986

Kyle smiles three or four times a day now. Sometimes he smiles at me, but more often than not I catch him smiling at a sunbeam on the wall, or (like yesterday at the doctor's office) a toy with a funny face ... anything that catches his fancy.

Bits and pieces of his personality are beginning to emerge. A lot of the time - MOST of the time - he's this incredibly placid, good natured little fella. He's easy to please, amicable, content. But more and more often lately I'm seeing flashes of the temper that lies ahead! If he's been left alone for too long, or if that bottle is delayed a minute or two ... or, if I'm holding him and he doesn't feel like being held ... he squirms, bonks me with his head, farts in annoyance, squeaks, pummels with his fists ... then he ROARS indignantly ...

7:00 p.m.

Absolutely perfect summer evening ... warm but not oppressive, lovely breeze ... I've just bathed all three of my children, and the house smells of soap and baby powder. Kyle's first bath. I bathed him in a little dishpan on top of the clothes dryer, while the girls took their bubble bath behind us. He liked it, I think -- his eyes were big as Frisbees, and he made little chirping noises in his throat. Now his hair, as he snoozes across the room from me in his basket, is soft and fluffy as the feathers on a baby bird. I am drowsy, comfortable and content.

7:20 p.m.

So much for "the perfect summer evening." We were interrupted by a major tragedy: Jamie discovered that her goldfish is gone. Vanished! Right out of the fishbowl in her bedroom. We think the kitties must have gotten him. Poor old Cornflake. Jamie is absolutely heartbroken ... SHIT.




Friday 9 a.m.
June 13, 1986

Jamie's heartbreak has dissipated a bit. I quietly put away the now-empty fishbowl and all the paraphernalia, and Ray has promised to replace Cornflake with two new goldfish next payday. Once in awhile she pauses in her play, and a mournful look steals over her face ... she is such a tender-hearted little girl, so easily moved to tears ... I comfort her as best I can, but this is something she has to deal with on her own and there isn't anything I can do to make the hurt any less painful. Still, I see a lessening of her grief today, and I think she's going to be fine. Summer is here, and Jamie is in her element! She and Kacie spent the entire day yesterday playing in their swimming pool - already she's beautifully tanned - and I expect today to be more of the same. Jamie is at an exciting period in her life, what with all her neighborhood friends and the new baby and the pleasures of summer ... there just isn't a lot of time to mourn the death of a goldfish.

Kacie is still driving me batty with her foul moods and annoying contrariness. No dissipation there. I don't mean to imply that she's a pill 24 hours a day. There are still plenty of sunny moments, interspersed amidst all the unpleasantness. Sometimes she is pure delight. It's just that I can't predict when she'll suddenly go from sunny to stormy ... bouncy to balky ... it comes without warning. I'm trying my darndest to keep it all in perspective (she's in the middle, there's a new baby in the house, she has always required more love & attention), but I can't help feeling irritated when she pouts and whines and refuses to cooperate, ESPECIALLY when I'm bending over backwards to acknowledge her emotional needs and she's still demanding MORE ... is she testing me? Or is she genuinely that unsure of her place in my heart?? Oh Kacie ... don't you know how dear you are to me?? I love you more than words can say. I know it can't be easy being in the middle ... lodged uncomfortably between the privileged firstborn and the pampered baby ... you might wonder where a freckle-faced little girl fits into the family hierarchy. I'll tell you where you fit: right in the space marked "KACIE," a space that no one but you could ever possibly fill. You needn't feel insecure or threatened. You place in this family - and in my life, and in Daddy's - is safe, secure and forever ...

Kacie, age 3
Listening to Mom's new Walkman/wearing Mom's new shoes
Spring 1986

In the meantime, however - until Kacie is old enough for verbal assurances - I will probably find my limits tested every day. Even as I'm writing this, she is throwing another ear-splitting tantrum because I won't let her go to Charlie's house. She's standing in the middle of the front yard, sobbing "I WANNA GO TO CHAR-LEE'S HOUSE!!!" This is the fourth or fifth clash of wills we've endured already this morning, and we've only been up a couple of hours ... !

On a personal front, I am beginning to feel very depressed about the way I look. I am so heavy. For a few weeks after Kyle was born I was able to delude myself into thinking I looked OK ... I felt so much slimmer and lighter, with the baby out of my body ... but now the truth is finally sinking in. I am FAT.



Wednesday 11 a.m.
June 18, 1986

The days of my life continue to roll past.

Our hot summer weather, this week, has disappeared: for the past several days it has been cool, cloudy and occasionally rainy. I view it as a reprieve, but the girls are put out because they have to wear shoes and socks when they play outside. (I hold Kyle up to the dining room window, and he catches sight of his sisters, sitting outdoors at the picnic table eating bananas. His eyes widen and he is very still, watching them. Jamie sees us, and she runs over to the window. "Hi Kyle!" she shouts merrily, and jumps frenetically up and down for her brother's amusement. He is still absolutely motionless, but now he is making excited little noises in his throat ... he sees his Jamie! Why does she always evoke such a huge response in him? It's been like that ever since he was born: she is "it" as far as he is concerned.)

Our car is now officially dead. It's been parked down at the QFC store for several days. At the moment this is a source of great concern for me ... I feel even more "stranded" than usual. As a matter of fact I had to cancel an appointment with Dr. Bell today because I have no way to get there. We are in desperate need of a decent car, but I don't know how we can possibly afford it.

The depressing thing is that even when the Impala is running, there aren't enough seat belts for all five of us, unless one of the girls squeezes up front between Ray and me ...



Friday morning
June 20, 1986

The first "official" day of summer (the neighborhood kids got out of school Wednesday afternoon). Still cloudy and cool, though, which makes it tolerable. I'm not looking forward to the hot weather very much. Wish I had some decent summer clothes.

Kacie has appointed herself my official "powder girl." Whenever I'm changing Kyle's diapers, Kacie automatically appears at my side, ready to sprinkle the powder on her little brother's bottom. (And Heaven help anyone who dares try and usurp her position! Jamie innocently asked if she could have a turn being the "Powder Girl" and Kacie nearly walloped her!!) I think Kacie is trying to resolve some of her resentment of the new baby by doing something "important" for him, something no one else can do. At first I made a big deal out of what a GOOD HELPER she is, and how much "Kyle" and I APPRECIATE her help, blah blah blah. But Kacie seems to instinctively back off from that kind of gratuitous, overblown praise. So now I'm very low-key about the whole thing. She sprinkles the powder on his bottom, and I say "Good job," and she walks away beaming.

Kyle is sleeping extremely well this week. Night before last, he slept from midnight to 9 a.m., his best night so far. Last night it was 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., which ain't bad either! (He went back to sleep at 6:30 a.m. and is still asleep now at 9:50 a.m.) When he's awake, he is either pure delight (he smiles constantly now, at anyone who will stand still for two minutes -- long enough for him to focus) or else he's colicky, restless and unhappy. Evenings are especially difficult for him. We usually end up going back and forth between Mama and Daddy ... from the couch, to the basket, to the floor, to the rocking chair ... nothing keeps him happy for very long when he's in one of his colicky states. Eventually he ends the evening by filling his diaper with one mighty blast, emitting two or three massive burps and falling asleep in my arms.



Wednesday afternoon
June 26, 1986

Warm, stuffy, sleepy afternoon. Vaguely depressed by the thought of three more months of summer ...

Kyle rolled over for the first time last weekend, tummy to back. When I lay him on the floor, on his tummy, he holds his head right up and looks around him a little bit. He likes my Sister Belle doll and the Happy Apple toy, the same toys his sisters liked at this age. Now I'm starting to wish we had a playpen for him ... I'll really need one by the end of the summer.

Making fried rice and BBQ'd chicken drumsticks for dinner.



Thursday 10 a.m.
June 27, 1986

Just put Kyle down for what I hope will be a fairly lengthy morning nap. I need a shower - I'm still in my nightgown - and I owe several letters, including one long-overdue letter to my mother. (Jamie is "posing" Kacie in the armchair with an assortment of dolls, pretending to take her picture with the Sesame Street toy camera. "Lookin' good!" Jamie mutters, snapping the camera with brisk efficiency.) There are hundreds of unfinished projects laying around this house at the moment, mostly things like scrapbooks and recipes that need filing and other "paper projects," and what I would really love would be one whole, uninterrupted day in which to finish them all. No kids demanding Kool Aid and Band Aids, no dishes to wash, no laundry to fold ... and NO BABY! An entire lovely day to do anything I please. It sounds heavenly. Of course, I know that I would probably end up sleeping half of it away, then spend the other half pining for my baby and my kids! But it's fun to dream about it.

Speaking of dreams ... 

... oh, never mind. It's not worth recounting, really ... just another of the old Scott W. "love-me- and-leave-me dreams, where he invited me to move back into the apartment and then kicks me out again. I always wake up from these damned things feeling terrible. I had another one of them this morning.

Life around here goes on. We're still without a car ... the other day Ray had the Impala towed to our house from QFC, and now it's parked in front of the house, a useless pile of junk. Ray rides to and from work with Ward W. or Mike Paynter, but getting to a grocery store is more of a problem ... Ray either has to walk (which means he can only buy a small bag of essentials, since the walk home is uphill) or else hitch a ride with neighbors. When will we have a decent car again??

An update on the Kacie situation (re: her "perpetual crabbiness"). I've been spending a little more time lately just listening to her and talking to her, and it seems to be making a difference. Underneath it all she is a very sweet, friendly little girl with a wicked sense of humor and a deep need for my attention and approval. I'm purposely making sure that our middle child doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Jamie, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly bossy and impertinent. Typical for four yr. olds, I guess. Her first words to me yesterday morning when I got up were, "Hey - you forgot to get up and fix my breakfast."

* Kyle's eyelashes and eyebrows have finally appeared
* The blocked tear duct has cleared up
* He's got a whopping case of "cradle cap"
* He's out of the "newborn" diapers and into the "medium" size



Monday noon
June 30, 1986

Exhausted from an interesting and busy weekend. The house is a horrible mess but I just don't have the energy to get started on my work. Jamie is mad at me because I won't let her go next door to Charlie's. "Then you don't get your ten kisses," she said angrily, her nose in the air. Kyle is sleeping. For the past two or three nights he has slept at solid, eight hour intervals ... 10:30 to 6:30, usually. In addition, he takes at least one long nap each day. I wouldn't go so far as to say we've finally settled into a regular "schedule," but things are a great deal more predictable these days: I can assume, with some degree of certainty, that I will have three hours in the morning for a shower and some housework ... that the afternoons will be spend holding and feeding Kyle and watching the afternoon TV shows I like ("Santa Barbara," re-runs of "Knots Landing," "Donahue") ... that Kyle will probably be fussy and unhappy for awhile the evening, and will require some rocking chair time. A pattern is developing. We still have interruptions and variations ... "off days" and unexpectedly peaceful evenings ... Kyle keeps me on my toes! But I do feel as though the dust is settling a little.

I loved to sit in front of the open living room door on warm summer nights,
in Grandma's rocking chair, and rock my sweet baby boy.
Summer 1986

Our weekends lately have all been pretty much the same: Tony R. comes home with Ray on Friday or Saturday night, and the three of us stay up late, partying and talking. Tony sleeps on our couch and hangs around the house Sunday, taking a bus home Sunday night. We all like Tony very much. Some of us more than others. Yesterday he and Ray took the girls to the Kirkland Fair and let them go on the kiddie rides. Jamie and Kacie treat Tony like a favorite uncle ... he is practically a member of the family.


Things I Worry About

(In no particular order)

* The major earthquake scientists predict we'll experience "soon"
* Our house catching on fire
* The cyst on my left hand, which developed shortly after Kyle's birth
* Being fat and unattractive for the rest of my life
* Cocaine-related deaths
* Our eroding ozone layer
* Random capsule poisonings
* Terrorism
* "Dallas" and "Miami Vice" being on at the same time this fall
* Child abduction
* Inherited alcoholism
* Shampoo residue build-up


July 8, 1986

Over a week later. Hot, muggy afternoon ... Kyle is laying here on my lap with a bottle hanging out of his mouth, watching me with huge blue eyes ... there are a million small children swarming around in my front yard, with Jamie The Charming Hostess standing in the middle of them, shouting "I'm gonna tell my MOM!" ... a "Knots Landing" episode on the tube, laundry humming in the bathroom, a ton of things on my mind ... life goes on.

My diet finally begins today. At this point I am calm and optimistic about it: I think I can do it this time. I've got my SlimFast powder and my Acutrim and a ton of willpower. I've also got some special incentives: breast-reduction surgery after I've lost 40 pounds (Ray agrees that somehow we will find a way to finance it).

Kyle saw his doctor again last Monday morning, and once again Dr. Watts seemed delighted with his progress. She was particularly impressed to hear that he was rolling over at seven weeks, and pleased with his weight gain. He weighs 13 lbs., 11 oz. now -- that's a gain of about three pounds a month since he was born. She advised me to mix his formula myself instead of using the ready-to-feed, so he can get some of the fluoride from our tap water. She also told me to use regular dandruff shampoo on his head, to get rid of the cradle cap. I really like Dr. Watts' common-sense approach. Then Kylie received his oral polio & his first DPT (ouch).

Mom was here on Monday to take us to Kylie's doctor. After his appointment, we went for a long drive out in the Woodinville area, then went shopping at Drug Emporium (my favorite store: I bought a ton of stuff) and lunch at Burger King. Immediately after eating their lunch the girls went outdoors and played on the Burger King playground equipment - slides and merry-go-rounds and such. This proved to be a mistake. During the drive home Kacie, overcome by the heat and the food and the merry-go-round, threw up her lunch all over the backseat of her Grandma's car. Oops!

This is where everything began to change.

July 10, 1986

Ray was fired from his job yesterday. I think I must be in shock, because it doesn't seem to have sunk in yet. I just feel numb.

(I'll write) more later.

Later (8 p.m.):

The numb feeling wore off midway through the afternoon, and I immediately sank into a profound depression. Ray and I have been very careful today not to talk about his being fired ... the subject seems to be out of bounds.

More later (9 p.m.):

I finally cracked. Standing at the stove stirring the stew, I began to cry. Right away Ray started promising that everything will be OK, that he's going to file a grievance with the union, that he's "sure" he'll get his job back ... etc. etc. etc. He said, "Please don't look so down - it'll just make it worse for me." I wasn't able to completely camouflage my fear, but I put on a semi-normal face and tried to go about life per usual, in order to boost Ray's flagging spirits. Inside, though, I am in turmoil. Ray's being fired isn't the only crisis I'm dealing with at the moment: only the most recent. My entire life is presently in a state of chaos.



July 14, 1986

A few days later. So much to say. All the petty little depressions and emotional ups and downs of the past few years seem like nothing now, in the face of what I'm feeling today ... this is "the big one, I guess." It's funny: for months I've been marveling at how smoothly things seemed to be going, and how lucky we were to have so few real problems -- there was the shitty state of my marriage, of course, but that's been a constant almost from Day One and I'd learned to ignore it -- otherwise everything seemed to pretty much be going my way. Three months ago -- good grief, was it really only THREE MONTHS AGO?? -- I was serene and unruffled, pacified, content, waiting for the baby to be born, insulated, unencumbered ... I think I might have actually been happy, even. And yet the whole time, in the back of my heart, I fought the nagging feeling that something was coming. Sooner or later, something was going to blow. Fate would point a finger in my direction and say, "Your turn!" ... and that's when the bomb would drop on my house.

It just didn't seem natural for things to remain so peacefully uneventful, so consistently ... the fatalist in me knew it wasn't going to last. And I was right.

What is hardest for me to explain is how ALIVE I suddenly feel as a result of this.  For months, for years even, I've been coasting emotionally. No peaks or valleys. It was as though I put my heart in neutral and let it idle for the past six years. The closest thing to real depth of feeling I've experienced during this time has been love for my children: otherwise, I've been emotionally dead. That part of me that feels curiosity and excitement and pleasure and passion -- the ALIVE part of me -- disappeared. And the worst part of it is that I allowed it to disappear without a fight. Monotony is seductive. I got so accustomed to feeling nothing that I stopped doing anything about it. I stopped missing it, even.

The past few weeks, though, I've been waking up again, little by little. I don't know why, although I suspect that Kyle's birth may have been the catalyst. The birth of my last child. With his birth, a chapter of my life is finished, but - amazingly - rather than feeling mournful about it, as I feared I would, I just feel relieved. So much of my identity the past five or six years has been tied up in childbearing, and now that I've finished having my children, it's time to move on to something else ... to find out who I really am. I'm Jamie and Kacie and Kyle's mother ... but I'm more than that. Aren't I?

So far, I realize, this all sounds incredibly patented. I give birth to the last of my children and plunge immediately into a full-scale (ugh) "identity crisis." A classic textbook case. It's embarrassing even writing about it because it sounds so trite. The next thing you know, I'll be packing my bags and moving to California to "find myself"!   

But wait.  There's more. As I mentioned last week, Ray's being fired isn't the only thing I'm dealing with at the moment. In fact, it isn't even the most important thing I'm dealing with. His being fired has made me feel frightened and furious and unsettled -- powerful emotions, things I haven't felt in ages -- but an even more powerful emotion has risen up inside of me this summer, one that supersedes all the others. It has caught me completely by surprise, but now that it has happened I don't seem to be able to do anything about it ... and if I could, I'm not sure I would.

To put it as succinctly as possible, I have come to care very deeply for Tony R. We're not having an affair, exactly, but there is definitely something between us. At least  ...  it feels like there's something there. (In more rational moments I am terrified that he is mostly humoring me. Why would someone like him be interested in someone like me? My self-esteem is very low these days.  It's hard to imagine anyone finding value in me.) My feelings for Tony caught me off guard, and at first I thought it would pass in a day or two, like the flu ... take two aspirin and feel normal again in the morning ... I've been waiting for it to level off but it hasn't. Every day there's a little more there. I think about him all the time. When he isn't here, I feel unsettled and out of balance, as though I'm walking around wearing one high heel ... like things are out of synch. When he is here, I feel joy, life, fear, balance. The emotional paraplegic gets out of her wheelchair and walks again. It's wonderful and terrible and totally beyond my control.

I despise the furtiveness of our time together, and I occasionally feel a wave of despair over the hopelessness of the situation ... but so far the good is outweighing the bad, at least in my heart. For six years I've endured a marriage without conversation or passion or connection, no shared interests, no communication. No one to blame for that but myself, of course, although I've tried like hell to rectify the situation. I've spent six years giving Ray everything, in an attempt to build something, ANYTHING between us, but it's been like beating a dead horse: he has resisted all my efforts. He doesn't understand anything I have to say, and furthermore he doesn't appear to care. But then I meet Tony, who not only listens to me but actually HEARS what I have to say. There's a difference! The attraction began for me on that level. Just being listened to ... what a rare and unexpectedly wonderful thing! I thought, "I deserve this." That's how it started. After that, it was the energy and the fun and the life in Tony that drew me, and which holds me now. He is possibly the most vibrantly alive man I've ever known, and I am impossibly drawn to that. The rhythm of living beats in this man, and he celebrates every day.

He said to me, "Do you think I go away and don't think about this?" and I said, "I don't know." I don't know. I'm not naive enough to believe I'm on his mind 24 hours a day. In my moments of deepest despair, I realize that it probably means very little to him. There's a pathetic quality about all of this that is mortifying.  I agonize over it.  What if - God - it's merely the convenience of my availability? The flattering susceptibility of the "neglected wife"? What if he finds the whole business amusing? The possibilities haunt me. But still - in spite of my insecurities and doubts - I can't help but think he might be sincere. That it isn't my imagination. That maybe there is some genuine reciprocation there. It's hard to let myself believe it, but I want to ... I really want to ...

Just before Ray was fired last week, I'd reached a conclusion: my marriage to Ray is not going to last. Furthermore, I have quit hoping that it will. I have reached a place of resignation about it, a firmness of heart. A week ago I said to myself, "In six months I'll either be out of this marriage - or I'll be dead." I just didn't feel I could take a lifetime of the kind of emotional neglect I've endured for six years, and that I deserve something better. I still feel that way. Tony has something to do with it, of course, but mostly it's something in myself ... a selfishness, maybe, but there it is. Life is too brief and precious to squander, and if I give up and stay where I don't want to be, I'm going to find myself back in the emotional wheelchair again ... incapable of feeling anything. That scares me more than anything I can imagine.

With Ray suddenly out of work, though, I've been thrown a curve. I may be selfish, but I'm not heartless: you don't kick a man when he's down. As dissatisfied as I may be with our marriage, I still feel a certain loyalty. I feel I ought to set aside my own desires (as usual) and stick things out until he is back on his feet ... and yet it seems murderously unfair that once again my life gets put on the back burner. For once in my life, I wish I could move forward instead of backward.

In the meantime, though, there is this sweet feeling for Tony in my heart ... a reminder, maybe, that there is life after housewifehood. It may not be much, but right now it's all I've got. I can't help it ... I can't explain it ... it's just there.

(Here. I'll give you an example of what my marriage is like. Ray sleeps until 4:30 in the afternoon ... gets out of bed, showers, hops in the car at 5:00. "Where are you going?" I ask, dismayed. "To watch the game at Dave's Place," he says, and blithely drives off without a kiss, a "goodbye," a wave. Last night he left here at 5 p.m. to "go to the store" ... it was past midnight before he got home. I am always always always alone.)


July 18, 1986

Things between Ray and I are hitting new lows. It's now been a week since he lost his job, and he hasn't done anything about filing a grievance, applying for unemployment, looking for a new job  ... all he's been doing is sleeping until mid-afternoon every day, drinking can after can of beer, and running to the tavern every night. I am furious and disgusted. He's pushing me for sex all the time, too, but frankly the thought I making love to him turns my stomach, and I've been coming up with all kinds of excuses to avoid it.

At the moment we seem to be OK for money (I never really know for sure: Ray and I never discuss finances) but I'm starting to feel a little afraid. He's been buying a lot of frivolous stuff, doughnuts and pizza and fast food, and I'm afraid the money is all going to be frittered away before too long. We're behind on our utility payments again - Puget Power just dropped off a $170 disconnection notice - and the rent will be due pretty soon. I feel a low-level panic beginning to build inside of me.

Tony has been around a lot this week ... he spent the entire weekend here, and then he slept on our couch Monday and Tuesday nights as well. He didn't feel good last night, and he was more distant than I've ever seen him before. I tried to maintain some dignity (some "mystique," maybe?) by going to bed first and leaving him and Ray alone in the living room, watching an old horror movie and smoking pot. At one point before I went to bed he said to me in a low voice, "What are you thinking?" and I said quietly, "I don't want to tell you."

(They just shut off our water.)


... A rainy, cold evening ... a horror movie on TV ("Prom Night") ... the entire family assembled here in the living room. I even made popcorn. Jamie looked around a few minutes ago and said, "Our whole FAMBLY is here!" and I nodded and put on a big phony smile and said, "Isn't it nice?" No sense in letting my children know how desperately unhappy Mommy really is.



July 22, 1986
Tuesday morning

A week later. Nothing has changed  ...  and everything has.

Ray is still treating his joblessness like an unexpected vacation, and the money continues dribbling through his fingers like sand. (Although he has paid our rent for the next two months. That's something.) We have pretty much stopped talking to each other -- at least, about anything other than kids and meals. He sleeps until late in the day and then goes off in the car, "running errands," while I stay at home trying to hold everything together.

Late last week I slipped again into profound depression. I tried several times to sit down with this journal and write something of value, but I ended up tearing out pages before the ink was barely dry ... the things I wrote sounded so inane. How many different ways can you say your life stinks?  As upset as I was about Ray being out of work, and about the lousy condition of my marriage  -  the staple worries of my life at the moment  -  I still found myself worrying mostly about Tony!!  All of a sudden I realized that I was being an idiot. How could I possibly believe that he would be interested in ME? More than ever, I was convinced that he was merely humoring me. I was unbearably depressed, and embarrassed  ...   and (worst of all) still totally crazy about him. I felt like I was going to explode.

The depression leveled off a bit when the weekend arrived. First of all, Ray's folks took Jamie and Kacie for the whole weekend. The peace and quiet was heavenly! On Friday night, Ray and I took Kyle down to Dave's Place for a couple of hours. Tony was there, but we didn't have much of a chance to talk. Getting out of the house for an evening was nice ... it felt a little bit like being alive again. And Kylie was an angel at the tavern: he sat there in his little infant seat and took it all in with enormous, unblinking blue eyes.

Tony showed up at our house unexpectedly the next evening. It was so strange: all day on Saturday my heart was beating a little faster than usual. I would turn around and fully expect to find him standing behind me. I'm always thinking about him anyway, but this was different ... it was a "connection" that I can't explain ... a certainty that he would be here, soon, and that when he got here, my orbit would change again. I realize I'm sounding insane, but ... this is what I've been so valiantly (and fruitlessly) attempting to write about for days. It makes no sense at all, and trying to put it into words without sounding like a total dolt is beyond me, apparently. I suppose you could say I was "in suspense" all day Saturday. I knew that Tony would show up sooner or later, but I didn't know when ... and I didn't know what would happen when he did. I hoped I would have a chance to talk to him alone, even though I was terrified at the prospect. What would he say? What would I say? What if - God forbid - he confirmed my worst fears and made it clear that he's been merely humoring me ... ?

He showed up at 10 p.m., as Ray and I were eating dinner. I heard the knock on the door and turned around and there he was. I was instantly flooded with joy. The intensity of my reaction was overwhelming: it was literally a physical jolt, like being hit by lightning. Ordinarily I don't blush, but in this case the blush seemed to begin at my hairline and end at my ankles ...


... He was here for the rest of the weekend, until he left for work Monday morning. For most of the weekend I was annoyingly tongue-tied around him; still, I was keenly aware of his presence, and absurdly happy just having him here ...

... After Peg and Don brought the girls home Sunday evening and I put them to bed, Tony, Ray and I sat up until late, talking. On evenings like this, Ray is always the first to fade. As the conversation between Tony and I becomes more difficult for Ray to follow, he grows sleepy and disinterested and eventually he drifts off to bed. This is how it happened on Sunday night: all of a sudden Tony and I simply found ourselves alone together again. It was eerie how quickly the atmosphere changed ...

For two solid days now I've been totally euphoric. I haven't been this HAPPY in ten years! I know I'm walking in a minefield, but for the moment I'm simply enjoying the memory of Saturday night and feeling alive again ...

.... If I do have one small regret, it might be my telling him that I love him. We were sitting together, and I had my head on his shoulder, and all of a sudden I was so completely overcome with emotion that my entire body just sort of SAGGED for a minute. "What's the matter?" he said softly. I couldn't speak. I hung my head and sighed. He asked me again to tell him what I was thinking, and the words popped out of my mouth without any help from my brain. "I love you," I said ... "That makes me really glad to hear you say that," he said ...



July 23, 1986

Tony showed up unexpectedly today around lunchtime and caught me totally off guard. I'd just gotten out of the shower and I looked awful: I had on the oldest clothes I own, practically, and with no makeup on I looked ill. Suddenly I turned around and there he was! I was mortified. He stopped by for just a minute during his lunch-break to talk to Ray about something. Ray was outside doing some work on the house with his dad, so Tony talked to him out there and then came into the house to talk to me. It was the first time we'd seen each other since Sunday night - cause for embarrassment right there! -- and to be caught looking so terrible was mortifying. I couldn't look him in the eye.

"What's wrong?" he asked me, and I bent over to Kyle to change his diaper and said, "I'm just ... embarrassed." A moment later we were standing out in the kitchen and he reached over and tickled me in the ribs. "Don't be embarrassed," he said, playfully, and I started blushing furiously! We talked for a couple of minutes, and he said he was coming back later that evening. Then he left. I was so relieved, I literally buried my face in a sofa pillow and screamed. Unexpected encounters with him put me in a complete spin: it takes me hours to recover.

Later in the day I wrote him a letter. It said, in part:

"... After you left this morning I sat around for awhile feeling incredibly stupid. Lately this is something I've been doing a lot of. I'm getting pretty good at it.

You have this disconcerting way of just suddenly appearing out of nowhere -- usually when I'm right in the middle of thinking about you -- that totally shatters my composure. It's not your fault, and actually when I'm not busy feeling mortified about it, I find it kind of amusing. One minute you're just THERE, and I'm instantly transformed into this total stammering fool ...

What threw me this morning ... was being caught off guard, looking completely shitty! ... I'm amazed to discover that I still care what I look like around someone who matters. Bear with me: I'm attempting a Guinness record: world's longest adolescence ...

No regrets. No strings. No thank-yous. No lies. You already know how I feel so I won't beat you over the head with it. I just wanted you to know why I was so flustered this morning. It wasn't conscience - just vanity. I am always glad to see you, even when it doesn't seem like it."

He and Ray showed up here together around 7:30 tonight. (They'd been down at Waldo's for a couple of hours.) Tony was depressed: this is his son's sixth birthday and he wasn't able to see him. On top of that, a friend of his was murdered this week ... it was on the 5:00 news. I wasn't feeling that great myself. I'd just had an ugly confrontation with the H. family next door, and my period had just started, my first in over a year. We sat drinking beer and watching TV until late; Tony sat in the armchair, I was laying on the couch. We talked for awhile, about his friend who had been killed, about his son, about poetry. He recited some of his poetry to me - he has a lot of it, and it's good - lyrical and rhythmic. It was interesting. I think that simply talking to him is 90% of his appeal to me.

He enjoyed the letter I wrote him. When I gave it to him, he immediately left the room to read it privately. When he came back, he said quietly "There's a lot I can learn from you ... and a lot you can learn from me." (I replied, "That's the point.")

At 1:30 Ray finally disappeared into the bedroom, much to my relief. A few minutes later I went back and checked on him: he was sound asleep already. Tony and I sat in the darkened living room for awhile, across the room from each other, watching David Letterman. After awhile we sat next to each other on the couch, side by side, not talking: that was one of the loveliest moments of the evening, I think ...

He is really good at this stuff. The cynic in me wonders if it's artifice - if it is, would I recognize it? - but he is pretty convincing. He looks me in the eyes and his expression is so tender I think my heart will just come to a stop. It scares the hell out of me. Anyway, we stayed together for a couple of hours before I finally (grudgingly) went off to my own bed and let him get some sleep on the sofa.  He is about as sensitive a person as I've ever known - unless that's artifice, too - and I left our encounter filled with renewed determination to continue being with him. I'm just going to have to be very careful. Ray doesn't suspect a thing, and unless he takes a crash course in mental telepathy he's not going to know ... providing we're discreet. (Ray hasn't picked up on my elation these past few days AT ALL. I swear to God, I could shave my head and start speaking Portuguese, and Ray would just ask me where the Dixie cups are ...)

There is a lot more I could say: my heart is so full. There are concerns, hopes, ideas ... a few tentative, scary plans ... but it's late and I'm exhausted. Now that Tony and I have begun a relationship (for lack of a better word), I seldom dream about him at night anymore. That's OK: the reality is much better than the dream, to tell you the truth ...



Thursday 9 p.m.
July 24, 1986

... And when he's not here, my heart is with him ...

Ray just came home after four hours of "running errands." He brought home a surprise - a brand new playpen for Kyle. It's beautiful, and Kyle really likes it. Now Ray is out in the kitchen, watching a movie on the portable and cooking our dinner. (Tonight's menu: chili dogs.) The girls are sitting at the kitchen table with him, eating blueberry muffins. They're wearing nightgowns and their hair shines in the lamplight. A perfect, lovely tableau of a nice little family. The only problem is, here's Mama sitting on the sofa, and her heart and her thoughts are miles away, to wherever he is right now ...

I'm in deep trouble, aren't I?



Friday morning 9:30
July 25, 1986

Cold, soggy morning. I am the only one awake. Excellent night's sleep - Ray slept on the couch for some reason, leaving me the bed all to myself. I dropped off at 11 p.m. and slept straight through until 8 a.m., when Kyle woke up. (He's back in his crib now.)

The new playpen is sitting directly in front of me, in the middle of the living room. For some reason it bothers me. I suppose it is a tangible symbol of my guilty conscience. Last night I felt my first twinge of guilt, when Ray was carrying the playpen into the house. Two months ago I would have been thrilled with it, but last night all I could seem to think was, "THIS IS NOT WHERE I WANT TO BE." There is an underlying sadness about this whole situation that gnaws at me, especially at moments like now, when the house is quiet and I'm alone. On the one hand I am so incredibly happy -- so filled with feeling for Tony -- so pleased that he is in my life. I firmly believe there are no accidents, that everything happens for a reason. For some unfathomable reason he has appeared in my life, and I'm not going to fight it. On the other hand, I do feel sadness that a way of life I'd grown accustomed to is changed forever. I will never, ever be truly happy here again. My love for Ray is over - if there was ever any love to begin with. I'm deeply fond of him, and I won't go out of my way to hurt him, but I seem to have arrived at some inevitable place in my heart. The point of no return. I've always known it would happen eventually. I've been unhappy (but resigned) for too long: now I've got to begin the painful but necessary process of psychically disconnecting myself from this way of life, and preparing to move on to something else. It's going to take awhile, but I think I can do it.

I don't know if Tony will be in my future. He might be, but then again he might not. I'm not deluding myself. I'm not thinking about running off with him or anything like that. What I am thinking of doing is removing myself from a joyless, loveless marriage, finding a new identity for myself, doing the best for my children. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to accomplish all of this. The logistics are terrifyingly complex. What if I fail? I have the power to make five people (six, including Tony) miserably unhappy. On the other hand, if I allow myself to fold up and not try at all, that would still be failure, most of us would still be unhappy ... I'm sure that Jamie senses the unpleasantness between her parents, and it probably won't be long before Kacie does too ... AND I will spend the next twenty or thirty years wondering what might have been different if I'd had the courage to do what I believe ...

It bothers me that I sound so self-indulgent here, but that's only if you take this out of context. There is six years' worth of heartache behind my present unhappiness. This did not just hit me overnight: it has been building for a very long time.

7:15 p.m.

"In suspense" again. Wondering if we'll see Tony tonight? For some reason I doubt it. My latest fear is that I'm scaring him off ... that one of these days I'm going to get the "let's cool it" conversation. I'm trying to keep all of this in perspective, but it's hard. It's kind of like that first drink of water after ten days in the desert.



July 28, 1986

You might not hear from me for a couple of days, Journal ... I'm in the middle of the first heartbreak I've felt in over six years, and it's enough to deal with. I don't need to compound it by writing about it. Maybe tomorrow ... or the day after ... right now I'm just too wrecked.



Wednesday evening
July 30, 1986

A little better. Basically there have been too many distractions the past few days for me to sit around nursing a broken heart. My in-laws are here, are painting our house, and they've been here every day this week ... Terry S. is home from six weeks in Eastern Washington, and I've been enjoying her company ... and today my mother paid us a visit. Also, Tony has been here every day (and night) since Saturday. I have to admit that it isn't easy being so close to him and knowing that I'm not "allowed" to acknowledge my feelings in any way (I did get the "let's cool it" business from him, just as I feared), but I suppose it would be harder if he weren't here. At least this way I can see him and talk to him.

July 31, 1986

Good grief - what a month this has been. I've aged forty years in three and a half weeks.

Our conversation last Saturday night still haunts me. He was kind, tactful and concerned: he said, "I'm afraid that if we keep going like this, you're going to end up hurt." I was desperately trying to remain composed and dignified, but it was late and I was tired and my defenses were down. I wound up sitting there looking hurt  ...  and despising myself for it. I felt all of fourteen years old! In spite of the fact that I've known all along that this particular conversation was inevitable, I was still thrown by it. I couldn't say any of the things I wanted to say because my throat closed up on me. I ended up mumbling something about how he was "exaggerating." A weak attempt to salvage some pride. The next morning, when I was feeling slightly more composed, I said to him, "Everything is OK. I'm not angry about anything you said last night." He looked relieved. That was the last time we spoke on a personal level ... since then it's all been blandly pleasant but impersonal exchanges.

One thing he said that night plays in my head like a broken record. "I would love to fall in love with you," he said. "There's nothing I would like better. I'd love to be able to go places and do things together and be with you. But that just can't happen." Depending on my mood of the moment, the memory of that comment either thrills me  ...  or torments me.

How do I feel now? It's hard to say.  My thoughts are so unformed at the moment. Nothing has crystallized. I feel sad. I feel stupid. I am terribly angry with myself for being so vulnerable, and for believing in something that didn't exist. I am so disappointed, it makes me physically ill, just thinking about it. The let-down is excruciating. I suppose I just didn't expect it to end so SOON ...

... And most of all I'm scared. This, at least, is something I've been able to pinpoint. I'm scared to death that my brief affair with Tony was the last taste of love and life and hope that I will ever have ... and now that it's over, I sink back out of sight again, back into a marriage that I hate, and it's the last anyone will ever see or hear of Terri ...



Friday noon
August 1, 1986

This is it - this is rock bottom. I am so fucking depressed, I can't even MOVE.

The goddamned in-laws are here EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of the day, making repairs and renovations on the house ... today they're using an electric saw, and the noise is giving me an unbelievable headache. Ray laid in bed until an hour or so ago, leaving me to deal with his parents (and the kids, and the baby) all by myself. When he finally got out of bed, he and his dad immediately launched into a full-scale shouting match. They were screaming obscenities at each other and throwing stuff around the carport like a couple of two year olds, while Jamie and Kacie stood there, wide-eyed. I was furious. I told my father-in-law that I didn't appreciate the two of them behaving this way in front of the kids, and he told me that if I didn't like it, I could "get out." I started to cry, and I haven't been able to stop. It is all just too much.

I sent the girls next door, mainly to get them out of the line of fire. Ray jumped in his car and drove off without a word to anybody. There is nowhere for ME to escape to, though. Peg and Don have gone somewhere for lunch, and I put Kyle (howling) in his crib so I could have five minutes alone to write this. My head is pounding. My stomach is tied in square knots. I'm operating on two hours of sleep, and I feel like any minute I'm simply going to detonate into a million pieces.

Tony was here for all of ten minutes last night ... he is as cool as an ice cube around me now ... one more thing to feel miserable about. I hate Ray, I hate myself, I hate my life. I just hate EVERYTHING.



Tuesday evening
August 5, 1986

God. I NEED TO WRITE. If I don't sit down and write something soon, I really am going to explode.

Jamie keeps drawing me pictures today, and they all look the same: five happy faces, in a big circle. I know that she's picking up on my unhappiness. She draws pictures of her family as a silent imploring message to me, I think. Does she know that today I'm actually thinking about just packing myself a bag and leaving ... ?

I honestly don't know when I've ever in my whole life felt this bad.

I want to back up a minute, to last Friday. Talk about rock-bottom days: it was the worst. It was stiflingly hot, my parents-in-law were here all day working on the house -- Don Sr. ran the damned power saw ALL DAY. My nerves were shot. After Ray and his dad got into their big screaming match, I got into one with Ray. I ended up running into the bedroom and slamming the door shut with such force that pictures hanging on the walls crashed to the floor. I stayed in there and cried for almost an hour, leaving Ray to contend with the kids and his parents.

When I came out of hiding, the in-laws had gone home and things had calmed down a little. Ray was feeding Kyle. I took a bath and started dressing to go out. Ray and I had plans to go to Waldo's for awhile, and guess who he lined up as a babysitter? Tony. Frankly, the idea of going anywhere alone with Ray (and leaving Tony here by himself) was the most depressing prospect of the entire horrible day. I wanted to say, "You go out - let me stay here with Tony." (Or for that matter, "You and Tony go out and let me stay home.")

Tony got here at 7:00, and soon afterwards Ray and I left. Waldo's was OK, and after a few beers I began to feel better. I decided to take advantage of our time alone together and broach a few touchy subjects. I came right out and told him I was unhappy with our marriage. That took rare courage, and I must admit I surprised myself!  His reaction was (as always) infuriatingly noncommittal, but I still felt valiant about having made the effort. He said that "as soon as he gets his job back" things will be better. I interrupted and said, "This has nothing to do with your job, or your parents, or the kids ... this is strictly between you and I." I told him that I care about him very much ("I care about you too," he mumbled as he waved at the waitress for two more beers), but that I don't think things are working out very well for either one of us, and that maybe a separation might be what we need. He said he'd "think about it." The mood between us was somber for awhile. We drank beer and listened to the band (The Convertibles). Around 11 p.m. we decided to go home.

Tony had done an excellent job of watching the kids - as I knew he would - after we got home, he and Ray and I sat up for awhile. Then, as always, Ray drifted off to bed, leaving Tony and I alone.

My life continues to be a perplexing round of ups and downs. I don't know what to tell you (and I'm going to be reeeeeeal stingy with details here), except that we wound up together again, in spite of Tony's chilly demeanor the few days prior to that evening. We were together for hours: it was the best time we've ever had together.


August 7, 1986

It's getting worse.

Tuesday night I told Ray that I don't love him, and that I want out of our marriage. He didn't take me seriously! When I persisted, we got into a horrible screaming fight - he threw our marriage license into the garbage, and then he tried throwing me out the door. Jamie witnessed the entire ugly scene and she was in hysterics. Ray finally passed out in our bed with Kacie: I slept in Kacie's bed. Yesterday nothing further was said, and Ray was acting as though everything is fine.

I am going right out of my mind.

Judy told me that Peg & Don Sr. are planning to sell our house out from under us, as soon as they finish all this frenzied painting and repair work. I KNEW it. I hate my goddamned father-in-law. Last night he threw a big stink when Tony asked him for the money Don owes him (for yard work). He literally kicked Tony out of the house without paying him a cent. I HATE him. I'll be so glad to get out of this fucking family.

We have $2.00 to our names right now.

Yesterday I sent an impassioned plea to Grandma Vert. "I can't beat around the bush," I wrote to her. "I'm asking for money so I can take the kids and leave Ray." I said I could use "as much or as little" as she can spare. She'll get my letter today. For the moment I am in limbo.

I still love Tony. That, at least, has not changed. Ray is aware that I have feelings for Tony, but he thinks it's friendship and nothing more. Tuesday night when I was angry and desperate to hurt Ray, I almost blurted out the truth ... but I didn't. Mainly I kept my mouth shut to protect Tony. He doesn't need to be involved any more than he already is. This will sound strange, but I think that Tony really cares about Ray. I imagine that his loyalties must be agonizingly divided right now ... not to mention the guilt he must feel. How do you justify fooling around with your best friend's wife? It must be so hard for me to continue his friendship with Ray without feeling some moral discomfort ...

And how about me? Am I feeling any "moral discomfort"?? Yes and no. The biggest thing I worry about is that my children will read this journal someday and despise me for what I've done. Then I might feel some retroactive discomfort. But as far as the here and now is concerned, no, I'm not uncomfortable. All things considered, it is one of the few things going RIGHT in my life at the moment. In my heart and my head, my marriage is over. I'm loving Tony with an unencumbered conscience. I only wish things could be different ... that I could be with him always ... instead of finding my pleasure in stolen moments ...

Gotta go. Don Sr. is here again (today he and some other guy are working on the gutters). Another day of ear-splitting noise and unbearable 90º heat. Another day with Ray, and no hope of seeing Tony. Another day - this makes me a little sad - in this house, which won't be my home for much longer.

By the way, Ray's grandparents Bev & Henry got to town a couple of days ago -- they'll be staying for three weeks. Peg brought Bev over last night so she could see the baby. Kylie was already in bed, but I got him up so his great-grandmother could meet him. Bev just went nuts. "Ooooh, he's so PRECIOUS" she cooed ...

... Ray's grandparents are one reason why I'm keeping my mouth shut for a few days and not bringing up the divorce issue. I'm not going to do anything to spoil their visit if I can possibly avoid it, out of deference to them.

5 p.m.

Nothing today has turned out like I thought it would.

I'm sitting here in front of the fan. It's almost 90º and yet I'm shaking like a leaf. I'm so scared and sad, I think I might throw up ...

Apparently my letter scared the hell out of Grandma. She called my cousin Linda, who lives here in Kirkland, and asked her to come over and check on me. Linda is a real take-charge kind of person, and she's going to drive me to the welfare office in Bellevue tomorrow morning so I can apply for public assistance. The wheels will truly be set in motion. I think I'm in shock. My God. I really am going to leave Ray, aren't I ... ?

Suddenly I feel so sad.

A little later:

By the way - I did end up seeing Tony today! It was kind of funny, actually. The kids and I were spending the day next door at Lori's, to avoid the noise that Don Sr. and his friend were making up on the roof. I looked horrible: hot, sweaty, pale and exhausted. Around noon I was looking out the window and suddenly saw Tony's truck pull up in front of our house! I was astonished. (It surprised me that he would show up, for one thing, after that ugly scene with Don Sr. the night before. It's obvious that he is not at all intimidated by my father-in-law ... I find this tremendously appealing.) He came over to finish hauling the garbage to the dump. I walked over and talked to him, in spite of the way I looked, and I gave him a letter I wrote him yesterday. Once again he went right into the bathroom to read it. In the letter I told him what happened Tuesday night, and I mentioned some of my tentative plans. I said I know he must be feeling divided loyalty between Ray and I, but said "am I totally off-base in assuming that at least some of (your loyalty) lies with me? ... "

When he came out of the bathroom, he came over to where I was sitting in front of the fan and said, "Just don't disappear, OK?"

There was a little more, but that's all I really feel like writing for now. He is spending the night here tonight. I doubt that I'll have any time alone with him, since Ray is bustling around the kitchen all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ... doesn't look like he'll EVER go to bed. Besides, I don't think I trust myself alone with Tony right now.  I would probably start talking feelings again, and I'm determined not to bombard him with a lot of extraneous stuff he doesn't want to hear.



Very early Friday morning
August 8, 1986

Tony just left for work. I've been up for a couple of hours, quietly getting ready to go to DSHS while he slept on the sofa. He woke up about twenty minutes ago, and we sat at the kitchen table talking for a few minutes. I told him my plans for the day. "So, you're really going to do it," he said, and he offered me a little encouragement. "You're the only one who knows this," I said, "but I'm scared to death." As he was leaving he hugged me and said, "I'll talk to you real soon - maybe later today." As I heard his truck start up and pull away, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm terrified by how much I care for him. I love him. I honestly do. Part of me is beginning to realize just how much, and I'm wondering if I'm setting the wheels in motion today because of it.

Last night while I was sitting in the living room watching "Hill Street Blues" and Ray was out of the room, Tony walked past me and wordlessly reached out and squeezed my hand. Just that simple gesture of affection totally did me in.

My horoscope today:

"Be willing to review, revise, to check small print. You now are on more solid emotional-financial ground. Know it, take steps to elevate prestige. Means take greater charge of your own destiny."



Saturday morning
August 9, 1986

Horribly confused. I suppose I'm starting to waver, ever so slightly. My staunch supporters (and all of a sudden I seem to have accumulated an army of them: Lori, Linda, Grandma, Mom) warned me this would happen. I just don't know what to DO. On one hand I'm glad that the decision doesn't have to be made for a few days, at least until my interview at DSHS next Thursday: it gives me time to think things over very carefully. I have had a lifelong propensity for leaping before I look. In this - perhaps the most critical decision I'll ever make in my life - a hastily-made judgmental error could result in ruined lives. I need time to weigh the pros and cons.

On the other hand, the more time that passes, the more likely it is that I will just fold up and concede. Wavering will turn to doubt - doubt to indecision - indecision to inaction. The next thing I know, I'll be 38 years old and still living in a marriage that turns my stomach ... I will look back on this missed opportunity and despise myself ...

I'm going to try and help myself by writing out everything I feel, here in this journal, in an attempt to find some answers. I doubt that this will make scintillating reading, but that's not the point. I need to put it all on paper. Then I can read the whole thing over and maybe see where there are holes in my logic ...

It's Saturday morning, and for the first Saturday in ages I'm not hungover or burned-out or exhausted. I have the clearest (relatively!) head in town. When it became obvious last night that Tony wasn't going to stop by - around 9:30 - I quietly slipped off to bed without saying goodnight to anyone. Apparently I wasn't even missed! Through a sort of "twilight sleep," I could hear Ray and the girls out in the kitchen, laughing, making popcorn, watching TV. Suddenly Ray has been transformed into "Super Daddy." These past few days - since our ugly scene on Tuesday night, when I told him I don't love him - he has been knocking himself out, trying to be this good, genial, patient, Robert Young-type father. He gave Kyle an apple juice bottle last night (a first for both of them!) ... he voluntarily has taken to fixing dinner and snacks for everybody ... good grief, just now as I'm writing this, he has invited the girls into our bedroom to WATCH CARTOONS with him! (I can hear raucous laughter coming from behind the closed door.)

Frankly, all of this icky-sweet paternal devotion is a little hard to swallow. I know that Ray loves his kids a lot, but I think that what is really happening here is that he's beginning to panic. For whatever reason, he finally senses that I'm pulling away, and he's nervous ...

Voice "A": Of course he's nervous. The poor guy feels his family disintegrating. He's scared to death. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for plotting to rip his heart out like this.

Voice "B": OK, so he's nervous. Where has he been for the past four and a half years, while you've been cooped up in this house alone, trying to care for a brood of tiny children & hold it together all by yourself? Where was "Super Daddy" then?? Sitting down at Dave's Place for days and nights on end, while you were knocking on neighbor's door borrowing food and diapers ...

Anyway. It's a pretty summer morning ... about 8:30. All the windows and doors are open already: there are ladders propped against the front of the house, and ropes hanging from the roof. I don't know if Don Sr. will be here to work on the house again today - I hope not - but even if he is, I have too much on my mind to be bothered worrying about HIM. I'm drinking a cup of coffee and listening to the radio. (Lately, every current song seems to remind me of Tony, or of my marital situation.) A good nights' sleep seems to have done me some good. I feel mentally alert and physically refreshed. I have no real plans for this day, other than writing this and avoiding the heat later in the day.

OK, so where was I? I guess I should tell you what happened yesterday. Not much, actually. Linda showed up at 9:00.  I sent Jamie and Kacie over to Lori's, and took Kylie with me to the DSHS office. There I filled out some preliminary applications for public assistance, including food stamps and medical benefits.  Afterwards we went to the Social Security Office in downtown Bellevue. I tried to apply for SS numbers for the kids but I didn't have their birth certificates with me, so I took the forms home with me. I have an appointment at the DSHS office next Thursday at 12:50. In the meantime, I have a stack of paperwork four inches thick to fill out before my interview. It is a bit intimidating. They want to know everything but my favorite color, practically. I've got to wait until Ray is out of the house for an hour or so before I can get started filling out the forms ... maybe later today.

After we'd picked up all the paperwork, Linda took me on a tour of some apartments in Bellevue that I might be able to afford. She said her aunt had lived in them, while she was on public assistance, and she'd managed just fine. We drove slowly through the parking lot ("DADDY!" shouts Jamie from the bedroom) and around the building, just to give me an idea of what to expect. I looked at them without emotion. They were very basic: much like the handful of apartments I lived in before I met Ray. Not great, but not bad ... plain and unassuming. I saw a little girl about Jamie's age skipping on the landing outside a second-floor apartment; a few yards away, a tired-looking woman sat in the doorway of the laundry room, chin in hand. Linda chattered on and on about the ups and downs of living this life. "See, there's a grocery store about a block away," she said. "If you're real careful with your food stamps you'll do fine, and you might still have $40 or so a week for extras ... your soaps and toilet paper and stuff." My mind was reeling, trying to take it all in, but by that point Kyle (who I had to hold in my arms during the entire ride) was getting hot and fussy ... sweat was breaking out at the back of my neck ... my stomach was churning. What the hell had I gotten myself into?? Linda was still rattling off facts and figures. "You might get $650 a month," she mused speculatively, "so you need to keep your rent around $400 ..."

... My mind turns back in time, to the night I moved into this house. It was the night that Ronald Reagan was elected President for the first time, November 1980. Ray and his brother brought all of my stuff over from Bobby's apartment, in Ray's black van. It was my eighth move in two years, and as I stood there wearily watching the boxes and cartons of my life being trundled across the threshold of my newest "home," my spirits sagged. How long would I last here? A month? Two months? A year, maybe? At that moment Ray slipped his arm around my shoulders. "This is the last time you're going to have to move for a long, long time," he said reassuringly ...

Voice "A": Leaving this house is going to break your heart. You love this place. For the rest of your life you won't be able to think about it without sadness and regret.

Voice "B": You know that you get attached to any place you've lived for awhile. Remember how you felt when you moved out of Grandma and Grandpa's? Or the "Smith house"? And what about 600l ... ? You've felt this way before, and yes it's sad, but you've survived, and you've gone on to make a new home elsewhere, and eventually you'll find a place that truly feels like "home" again. Home is more than four walls. It has more to do with emotions than with physical space ...

It's true that I have loved this house very deeply in the nearly six years that I've lived here. (I can still see myself the morning that Sheryl moved out, in January 1981, when I realized that now the house was ALL MINE ... I remember the joyous way I felt, replacing all of her copper and Currier & Ives with my baskets and family photos.) Someday I'm going to drive down this street and peer into the big living room window and feel a wrenching sadness ... just as I've done in the past, driving by 6001 or the Smith House or any of the other places I've lived in and loved. It'll take me a long time to get over it. If truth be told, I will probably regret the loss of this house more than the loss of my marriage.

I've been happy with the house, and with the kids. The only thing I haven't been happy with is Ray. It's like one of those cartoons on the puzzle page of the newspaper: What's Wrong With This Picture? Here's happy Terri, puttering around her beloved house, hanging pictures on the walls, watering her plants, rearranging the knick-knacks on top of the piano ... here is her set of adorable matching children - two sweet-eyed little daughters who bring me bouquets of dandelions, then sit on the porch sucking on apple juice popsicles, and a plump and sassy baby son with a cowlick and enormous blue eyes ... all the necessary elements are there. The backdrop is ideal. But then, jarringly out of place, is RAY. The fly in the ointment. The crack in the mirror. The mustache on the Mona Lisa. The ... OK. You get the idea. I've been happy with everything but Ray. I've had this recurring fantasy: that I could somehow just clip him out of the picture, like an unwanted relative in a family photo - leaving the rest of the picture intact - and superimpose a new husband over the old. Same house, same kids, same happy housewife ... but a different Daddy.

Voice "A": You ought to be ashamed. Ray is a kind, decent, sensitive man who loves you and the kids with his whole heart. So he has his flaws. Who doesn't? He's human. Besides, no one held a gun to your head and forced you to marry him, Terri: it was YOUR choice. You knew his faults when you promised to love, honor and cherish him, till death do you part. Quit being so damned self-centered: the only one unhappy here is you, and you don't count. You made your bed ... now shut up and lay in it.

Voice "B": So you made a wrong choice. You're not exactly the first woman in the history of the world to marry the wrong man. And yes, Ray is a decent, nice guy. But he is also weak, irresponsible, undependable ... remember Jamie's birthday last year?? Remember all those nights, too many of them to count, when he either came crashing in, dead drunk, at 3 a.m. ... or else he didn't bother coming home at ALL? How about those weekends when he was gone for three days running, and you had no idea whether he was alive or dead? Remember putting towels on the babies instead of diapers, because Ray didn't come home with the Huggies? And sure, he's sensitive ... he cried when Smokey died ... but he's not sensitive to you. He doesn't even know you, and he never will. You have nothing in common but the kids. There is no conversation, humor, fun, passion, LIFE in your marriage. So what's wrong with wishing for something better? ...

Voice "A": ... at the expense of your family??

(Voice "A" is proving to be a real pain in the butt. Gotta take a lunch break. Back in awhile.)

1:30 p.m.

Already unbearably hot. God, I hate this kind of weather: I can barely THINK, let alone write anything that makes sense. Bear with me as I struggle through the rest of this. Where was I?  Oh yes - what a basically nice but flawed person Ray is, and what a selfish louse I am to be contemplating divorce (or separation, anyway). There is one thing I can say about him: he has never been unfaithful to me. I would stake my life on that. He hasn't got an unfaithful bone in his body. In this area, at least, he is the superior person/spouse. (Well, what do you know? At last - a glimmer of "moral discomfort" ... !)

The "Voice A" in me is whispering that I am a terrible, rotten, self-centered person. It's very hard to ignore. Just about anything I could accuse Ray of  -  substance abuse, weakness, irresponsibility, dishonesty  -  is something you could also say about me, at some point or another in our marriage  ...  It leaves a rotten taste in my mouth. I think it's one of the lousiest aspects of a lousy situation. He's bustling around the house, acting like everything is just like normal. I look at him, knowing what I know and feeling like a walking time bomb ... within days I am going to break this man's heart ... and I feel so hollow ...

... He's going to hate me.

Voice "A": Of course he'll hate you. You are the scum of the earth.

Voice "B": ... but he'll get over it.


Sunday morning
August 10, 1986

I will continue this today. Nice surprise when I got out of bed this morning: it is cool and overcast. I needed a break from the heat. Today I feel energized again. It almost makes up for the fact that I haven't seen Tony all weekend ...

I've just re-read everything I wrote yesterday, and I seem to have pretty well exhausted the subject of guilt. (Or put it this way: I'm exhausted from writing about it.) Of course I could probably go on for another twenty pages ... guilt about separating the kids from their Daddy ... guilt about separating Daddy from the kids ... guilt about the meager lifestyle I'll be giving the kids if I follow through on my escape plans ... blah blah blah. Ad nauseum. There's more than enough guilt to go around. No MONEY, but plenty of guilt ...

Today I think I will tackle the other biggie: FEAR.

Voice "A": What in the world makes you think you can support yourself and the kids? Don't you remember what happened last time you were on your own?? It was a disaster. You couldn't manage your money, you couldn't hold a job, you couldn't keep an apartment, you alienated your friends and family. You went hungry. Remember eating dill pickles and hot dog buns for a month?? You made a total mess of things. And now you think you can support yourself and THREE CHILDREN? Don't make me laugh.

Voice "B": It's true, you did make a mess of things last time. But you're six years older - and wiser - now. You've grown up a little. You have attributes you seldom acknowledge: intelligence, resourcefulness, optimism, faith. How will you know unless you try? The time has come to take charge of your own destiny. With common sense and a little sacrifice, you'll do just fine ...

The thought of being completely in charge of my own life - AND my children's' lives -  is terrifying. I feel like such a babe in the woods. Six years ago, the only one going hungry was me: I can't bear the thought of Jamie and Kacie and Kyle having to live on pickles and hot dog buns ...

Still, you know, things aren't that great here, either. Today my mother-in-law bought us $60 worth of groceries, which was wondrously nice - but humiliating. Lori gave us five loaves of bread and a bunch of doughnuts last week. Ray is borrowing money from everyone he knows - five dollars here, five dollars there - most of that gets spent on beer and diapers. We're simply not making it, and the thing that kills me is knowing that there is no paycheck coming next week to count on, or the week after that, or the week after that ...

At least if I go on public assistance, I can count on a regular (if meager) income. I'll also have food stamps ... Kyle's baby formula will be supplied for free ... the kids will get free medical care.



Tuesday morning 9:30 a.m.
August 12, 1986

Ten million small children are swarming around in the carport ... I'm PRAYING that they don't wake Kyle up. He just now went down for a nap, after a long morning of intermittent fussiness. I need a shower and a cup of coffee. Slightly hungover. Ray went out for awhile last time - for the first time in a long time - and I sat home drinking a few beers and watching TV. My head is filled with cobwebs this morning as a result.

I haven't seen Tony since last Friday morning when he left for work. I suspect that he is staying away deliberately, trying to "wean" me off him. I've probably scared him off.

Ray said something disconcerting the other day. "Notice how Tony is around all the time when you've got money, but then he disappears when you're broke?"

Feeling a renewed determination to go through with my plans. I wish I could just blink my eyes and suddenly BE in my own apartment, with the kids, settled, safe and sound. There is so much shit to slog my way through first, and it overwhelms me just thinking about it.



Thursday afternoon
August 14, 1986

Much to tell. Wheels are definitely beginning to turn ... very slowly ... but they're turning.

My interview with DSHS, which was originally scheduled for today at 12:50, has been postponed until next Wednesday. This is NOT a matter of me procrastinating, however. I changed the appointment so I'd have time to gather all the necessary documents and paperwork ... and this I have done. Mom showed up here today and took the girls and I to downtown Seattle, where I got certified birth certificates for the kids and myself. Then we went to the Social Security office in Bellevue, and I applied for SS cards for the four of us. I won't get those for another four to six weeks, but in the meantime I've got official verification that I applied - something DSHS will require next week. Getting the birth certificates and then applying for the SS cards is a GIANT STEP FORWARD ... and a huge load off my mind. I'm hot, I'm tired, my feet hurt, Kacie threw up in Grandma's car (again), it was horrible driving around in traffic ... but it was worth it.

Mom is being wonderful, supportive, encouraging, funny and sympathetic. I love her. I am learning from her. I'm not sure I could be going through this without her.

I probably have another month left in this house, more or less. The idea of leaving is becoming more real to me with each passing day. For the past week or so I've been going through all of our possessions and weeding out all that is not absolutely essential. A lot of it has been tossed into the trash: I've had to be uncharacteristically ruthless, throwing out things I've been lugging around since childhood. A lot of it is going to charity. Right now there is a huge stack of boxes and garbage bags, filled with unnecessary STUFF, sitting in the kitchen waiting for pick up. What amazes me is that my zealous, tireless "spring cleaning" (in August?) hasn't elicited any response from Ray. He doesn't see anything out of the ordinary going on, despite the fact that I'm giving away books, clothes, records, personal belongings ...

Assorted Notes
Sunday August 17, 1986

"The last" everything -- ordeal @ in-laws, summer barbecue in carport, wave of sick disappointment when he arrives home alone

"Throwing It All Away" - Genesis
"Point of No Return" - Nu Shooz
"Dream Time" - Darryl Hall
"Nothing At All" - Heart
"Missionary Man" - Eurythmics

The kiss on the cheek. (Rejection is healthy.)

Gim's sewing machine

Tuesday morning
August 19, 1986

I experienced a virtual smorgasbord of negative feelings last night. Here is a sampling:

7:00 p.m. Sudden wave of cold, sick panic. What the hell am I doing? I can't leave here - I can't support myself and the kids - I CAN'T DO IT!!!

9:00 p.m. Profound depression. Who am I kidding? I'm never going to leave here. At the last minute I'm going to chicken out, and then I'll be stuck here forever.

10:00 p.m. Disgust with myself. I am a dumpy, frumpy, frowzy housewife with an atrophied brain and no self-esteem. Tony rejected me. Everyone else will, too. I hate myself.

Good grief. Most of this stuff has dissipated this morning, but the memory lingers. My appointment with DSHS is tomorrow. I suppose it's understandable that I should be feeling anxious and afraid. I smoked a little pot last night, too, for the first time in a long time ... it only intensified the negative feelings and made me extremely paranoid on top of that. Just what I needed.

Last weekend Tony was here Friday and Saturday nights. (He left on Sunday morning.) Friday night after Ray went to bed we had some time alone. I hadn't had a chance to talk to him for two weeks, and I was delighted to get him alone. I've missed him. So many other things have happened around here recently that there hasn't been time to sit around feeling lonely for him ... but then when he showed up on Friday night and I felt that familiar cardiac somersault, I realized that underneath it all I have been missing him. I just hadn't noticed it.

Unfortunately, he was in a remote and uncommunicative mood. I asked him to hold me, and he turned me down flat: I was humiliated and angry. (Angry with myself for coming on like a steamroller again ... angry with Tony for having so much power over me.) He was vague about his reasons. First he said it was because he was "tired," but I got the impression that he's worried about getting caught, more than anything else. Apparently he has decided that it isn't worth the risk. The rational part of me agrees with him, of course. A couple of times we have almost been caught in a clinch - once by Jamie, once by Ray! - and these close calls have been a little TOO close for comfort. I just feel incredibly dopey. Why do I keep throwing myself at this man? What is it about him, anyway??!? The minute he walks into the room, all my dignity goes out the window. He rejects me nine times out of ten, and still I persist. Am I some kind of masochistic moron ... ??

Well. Anyway. After he turned me down, I mumbled something about how things might be "different" when I have my own apartment. I all but issued him an engraved invitation. He said, Yeah, sounds great. You betcha.  I went to bed feeling like a complete idiot. I thought, That's it, I've had it - I am not going to do this anymore. It's clear that I am paddling this canoe all by myself. If Tony doesn't know a good thing when he sees it, then it's his loss. I fell asleep filled with all kinds of righteous indignation.

The next morning, in the kitchen, Tony said, "I'm sorry if I wasn't communicating much last night." I said, "That's OK. You're entitled." We were very friendly and nice to each other all day. Actually, I really enjoyed his company, in spite of myself. I love having him around the house. But I still tried to keep my guard up a little: I didn't want to run the risk of being "infected" by the Tony Virus all over again ...

That night I went to bed at 11 p.m., while Ray and Tony were sitting in the kitchen playing cards. Neither one of them noticed me go. Jamie and Kacie were already in my bed, sound asleep: I put on my nightgown and slipped into bed next to them. A moment later, someone came into the bedroom. I thought it was Ray, and I said, annoyed, What is it? But it was Tony - he'd left something in our room - "I didn't know you were in here," he said in apology. I said, "All of a sudden I just got really tired." He talked to me for a minute, then suddenly bent over and kissed me on the cheek and said, "I'll talk to you tomorrow." It was so unexpected, it caught me totally by surprise. I just laid there, stunned, for about half an hour. DAMN HIM!! Every time I resign myself to his indifference, he does something unexpected like that and I'm hooked all over again. I hate him.

Sunday morning he tore out of here like he'd been stung by a bee. He grabbed all his stuff, said "I've gotta meet somebody - talk to ya later," and ran out the door. That was the last I've seen of him. The Voice A in me is needling me all over the place today. "He left because he KNOWS you," it says, "and he knows that you probably read more into that kiss on the cheek than you should have." Which is probably true. At the time it happened I was really touched, but now I realize it was probably just a pity kiss, more than anything else. The kind of kiss you might give your mom ... or your dog. He was tossing me a bone.

Still. It's so hard for me NOT to believe that he cares a little, at least. Saturday night was my 10 yr. high school reunion - and he remembered that, and asked me about it.

Wednesday 11 a.m.
August 20, 1986

Very nervous. My DSHS interview is in two hours. (Lori H. is going to drive me.) Not knowing what to expect is the worst part. I finished filling out my paperwork last night while Ray was out for the evening, and altho there are a few things I was uncertain about, I think I did OK. And I've got the birth certificates and the SS verifications. I feel somewhat prepared, at least. But that does nothing to ease the feeling of panic churning in the pit of my stomach ... I keep thinking, God, what if I have to pack up the kids and leave tonight? I'm NOT prepared for that. There's still so much I've got left to do ... I've still got Kyle's closet to weed out ... I want to take a bunch of stuff next door and store it in Lori's closet ... I need to negotiate car money with Grandma. If I have to take off on a run tonight, everything will be all fucked up.

I wish Tony was here. I could sure use a hug.

Wish me luck.


I think I need to see the moon tonight ...

Life Sentence.

The summer is beginning to decay

Friday morning
August 22, 1986

I was too depressed to write anything yesterday. Today my head is a tiny bit clearer. Things are a little more black and white today than they were yesterday. It finally seems to have come down to two choices: stay or go. There is no middle ground.

My interview on Wednesday was OK. I was fortunate enough to get a sympathetic counselor, Connie. She listened to my story and explained things in simple (but never condescending) terms. I think she sensed how nervous I was. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer throughout the whole ordeal.

Basically, I was told, it looks as though I will be eligible for everything I've applied for. I was missing a couple items of paperwork - their fault, not mine - and they can't process my application until I've filled them out and mailed them to the office. I have to get this stuff mailed before the wheels can begin turning. I sense myself hesitating. It's as though mailing in these last forms makes the decision irrevocable. When it comes right down to it, obviously I haven't yet arrived at a clear decision, one way or the other. I'm still straddling the fence.

It's weird. I woke up this morning, laying in my bed big with Ray on one side and Jamie in the middle (she got into bed with us at dawn), and for a moment I thought it was last spring again. Just for that moment, I was content and unpressured and relaxed. I thought, "Gee, it's a pretty morning. What am I supposed to do today - laundry? Dishes?" That feeling of impending doom that has dogged me all summer just wasn't there. It was an incredibly lighthearted sensation ... the way you feel when you've just woken from a pleasant dream, and the memory of it carries over from sleep to wakefulness for a minute or two ... until you remember who you are and where you are and it all comes crashing in on you ...

At any rate. Connie told me, at the end of my interview, that I can probably expect to receive (ballpark figure) "around $560 a month." When I heard that, my spirits plummeted. It sounded like such a paltry sum. "Will I be able to support my kids on that?" I asked her - despair written all over my face. "Maybe if you live with someone, and share expenses," she said. I left her office fighting back tears. I came home and sat on the sofa and felt completely numb for the rest of the day. I felt - and still do, to some extent - that I'd just been handed a life sentence, without possibility of parole. Life with Ray. Doomed to spend the rest of my life in a marriage I hate. It was too awful to contemplate. I think I was in shock all evening ...

... A little voice inside my head was saying "Don't give up yet!", though, so I spent yesterday evening working on finding a place to live. Using Lori's phone, I made a ton of calls. I called the local Housing Authority and found out there's a waiting list a hundred miles long (for low-income housing). The wait is anywhere from six months to two years! I called some local service agencies, but they weren't able to help me. Finally, I started calling apartments out of the phone book, hoping to stumble across one I could afford. Here I ran across the most unexpected and potentially hazardous roadblock to date: most apartment complexes won't take three kids!!!! Two, yes ... three, forget it. (One man actually hung up on me when I told him I have three children.) I hadn't foreseen this at ALL. By the end of the afternoon I was emotionally ragged. My neat little dream of the kids and I living in an apartment of our own, poor but (by God) independent, was slowly trickling down the drain. I felt like a moron. Did I honestly believe that things would fall neatly into place, merely because I wanted them to ... ?

Well. What I finally ended up doing yesterday was mailing an ad to the Bellevue Community College Women's Center, to put on their bulletin board. It says, in essence, that I'm a "welfare mom" looking for permanent housing for myself and my three kids here on the Eastside ... either a two bedroom apartment in the $350-$400/month range, or else a house to share with another mom "in a similar situation." On Sunday I will scour the classifieds. Perhaps I will place an ad myself, if I can get Mom to pay for it. By next week, if it looks like I can't find a decent place for the kids and I to live, I will give up. I'll cancel my applications for welfare and food stamps and resign myself to Life With Ray.

I feel like I'm being pulled in two different directions, but for once the struggle isn't purely internal ... there are other people doing the pulling. On the one hand, my "boosters" - Lori, Linda, Mom, Judy - all of whom I spoke to yesterday, either in person or on the phone - are exhorting me not to give up. They are urging me to follow through with my plans and start a new life for myself. Their message seems to be, Do what's right for you, Terri. They make me feel strong and capable and justified in what I'm doing. On the other hand are people like Ray's Grandma Bev, who sat here for 45 minutes last night telling me about all the tough times she and Henry went through during the early years of their marriage, during the Depression. The underlying message was unmistakable: Stand By Your Man. For Better Or For Worse. Till Death Don't You Part. I gave her some vague & largely false reassurances. I get this same message in an unintentional way, from Ray and the kids. Yesterday he did his Super Daddy routine again ... letting Jamie and Kacie help him wash the car, and then taking them for a walk to pick blackberries ... it was a real Kodak moment. (Then this morning he got out of bed at 10 a.m. and started washing the dishes!)

And Jamie. Last night while I was saying her prayers with her, I kept my eyes open and secretly watched her. When we got to the part where we ask God to bless various people, I saw her visibly tense up. I said, "God bless Daddy and Mommy, Jamie, Kacie and Kyle ... bless our family, best of all." Last week I was leaving that part out, and I think it bothered her more than I'd realized. When I included it in her prayer last night, her whole body relaxed. Her family is still intact. I know she is worried and upset about everything that is happening. It's hard for me to reconcile my personal desires with the unhappiness I'm causing everyone. I feel torn in half.

Ray's mother had to buy us groceries again last night. That's twice in as many weeks. I was speechless with gratitude and embarrassment. Bev slipped me $15 when no one was looking, telling me to put it away "for an emergency." I just feel I can't go on living like this ... going from day to day wondering if there'll be two bucks for a can of formula, arguing with Ray over who will ask the neighbors for five bucks, dreading the day the utility bills arrive ...

Saturday night
August 23, 1986

I mailed the stuff today. I watched the mailman pull up to our box and retrieve the envelope and drive away with it, and I thought to myself, That's that.

I'm doing some serious wavering tonight. It would be SO EASY to just cancel everything and sit back and go on with life as I have been ...

... except that Ray would still be unemployed, and I would still be trapped in a marriage that makes me feel like little pieces of me are dying ...

Tony turned me down again last night. I'd vowed never to run after him again, but I had a lot to drink and all my resolve went out the window. My feelings for him haven't changed, in spite of his continual rejection, but the futility of the situation is beginning to sadden me.

Everything is impossibly fucked up. I'm going to bed.

Sunday night
August 24, 1986

Sitting in bed, just about to go to sleep. (Kyle emits a single, weary howl from his crib; Ray, in the kitchen, admonishes the girls, "The first one to throw a fit goes to bed.") Several minor developments today. The plot thickens.

Mom and Ken dropped by this morning to take Dink home with them. The excuse they gave Ray (and Don Sr., and Grandpa Henry, who were both here working on the bathroom) is that Debi has moved back home and misses her dog. In reality, Mom knows that I'm going to be leaving Ray very soon, and she wanted to pick up Dink before things go all to hell around here. I can't say I blame her. Still, it was a surprise, and Ray and the girls are still reeling. We are all going to miss Dink ... even me, and I don't even like dogs. We've had him for two years and he was a member of the family.

Grandpa Henry took Ray shopping this afternoon and bought us $130 worth of groceries. This is the third time in two weeks that someone in Ray's family has done this. The freezer and the cupboards are PACKED. It was kind of weird, though ... the whole time I was putting the food away, I was thinking, "We'll probably never get a chance to eat it all ... we'll be gone before it runs out."

Mom's stepsister Joan works for the Housing Authority, and tomorrow I'm supposed to give her a call and see what she can do about getting me on Section 8, whatever that is. Also, I glanced at the classifieds in The Journal American tonight (I had to cajole Ray into buying it for me) and I noticed several Apt. For Rent ads that look promising. Tomorrow morning I'll look at them over coffee, and then I'll go next door and borrow Lori's phone to make some calls.

Bev and Henry go home to Tucson on Tuesday. When they leave, I lose one more reason to procrastinate. I said I wouldn't stir things up while they were in town, and I meant it. Now that they're leaving, though, I realize that time is running out. A decision must be made. If I could secure a decent apartment, it might make the decision a little easier. Right now, with no idea where the kids and I are going to live, it feels a bit as though I'm preparing to jump off a mountain ... and who knows what I'll hit at bottom ...

On Friday night Tony and I had a brief chance to talk, while Ray was out of the room. I told him that I was having a hard time finding a place to live. "I'll help you," he said. He was so quick and decisive about it: it made me feel good. I doubt that he meant it, but at the time it was just the sort of spontaneous reassurance I needed. He's very good at this. Damn him.

I've been thinking about Tony a lot today. I'm finding it very difficult to let go of hope where he is concerned. There is a detached impartial part of me that is watching this whole thing in utter amazement, wondering why on earth I'm hanging onto something as insubstantial as my "relationship" (I use the term loosely) with him. Why am I wasting my time? In rational moments I see the foolishness of it very clearly. And yet, in spite of these occasional moments of clarity, my heart remains clouded. I can't get over him. He is everywhere. I'm cleaning out the refrigerator, or pulling grass out of Kacie's hair, or standing in the hallway talking to my father-in-law  ...  and BOOM, there he is, suddenly, right smack in the middle of my consciousness. It's disconcerting as hell. I remember things that he has said to me, or the funny unguarded moments of connection between us, and I lose track of everything else for a minute or two. I don't understand (and probably never will) what it is about him that affects me the way it does.

One more thing and then I've got to go to sleep. Ray and I had a very weird exchange this evening. He said, "Maybe we'll go out on Friday night and get a pizza and a pitcher of beer" (to celebrate our anniversary). I said Sure, why not. Then he said, "Yeah, this might be our last one." He made a face like he was joking, but his voice was grim. I shrugged and said, "Might as well go out in a big way, huh?"

Weird! G'night.

Wednesday afternoon
August 27, 1986

Amusing exchange with Tony this morning:

Tony: "Can I use this?" (holding up porcelain coffee cup)
Terri: "You can use anything you want to around here."
Tony: "... ANYTHING? ..."
Terri: "Freudian slip."

Thursday morning
August 28, 1986

I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!

Remember my dream from a few years back -- the one where I'm standing on the railroad tracks staring down an oncoming locomotive, and I realize suddenly that I'm paralyzed ... ? That awful feeling of helplessness? In a way, that's how I'm feeling now. I'm rooted to the spot: I can't seem to make myself MOVE.

(No matter what I say to him, he turns it into an argument. "I'm taking my shower at 9:00," I announce pleasantly, to no one in particular. "You better make it sooner than that," he says grimly. "I gotta finish caulking." Instantly my good mood vanishes.)

Saturday morning
August 30, 1986

Well ... "deciding" is no longer an issue. Things have pretty much been decided for me. In the past couple of days I've had one emotional kick-in-the-pants after another, and this morning my heart is saying GO. I am bitter and disappointed and angry, with everyone from Ray to Tony to my in-laws, but most of all I am mad at myself for screwing everything up so thoroughly. I am such an idiot.

First of all: Peg finally mentioned the other day that she and Don are selling this house. It's so weird. In spite of the fact that I've known about it for weeks, the news still hit me very hard. I guess that hearing them say it out loud like that was something I wasn't prepared for. I got up and left the room; I sat in my bedroom with the door shut for over an hour, until Peg left. She was aware of how upset I was, I think. I heard Barbara mention something to her in a low voice, too low to make out anything but my name, and Peg said, "Well, I don't think I ought to get INVOLVED." And then she left.

What annoys and hurts me the most is the casual, offhand manner in which my parents-in-law have treated this entire situation. Not saying anything about selling, all these weeks  -- while making all these elaborate repairs & improvements around the place, right under our noses  --  strikes me as being INCREDIBLY RUDE.  I am absolutely stunned by their lack of sensitivity. Why in the hell didn't they just come right out and tell us, at the beginning of the summer, instead of all this pussyfooting around?? I don't think I will ever be able to forgive them for that.

This is what annoys me the most. What hurts me the most is how easy it is for them to just yank away our home. Regardless of the fact that I was planning to move anyway ... regardless of how they may feel towards me personally ... it is still inconceivable to me that they could cavalierly force their grandchildren to leave the only home they've ever known!!! Jamie is heartbroken. She knows she's going to have to leave her friends and her pets behind, and last night she said (in tears), "I'm gonna miss my bedroom." I know how she feels. My own heart is breaking at the thought of leaving my beloved little house. It was bad enough when I was leaving voluntarily. Being evicted is intolerably painful. And they don't seem to care!! They're not showing so much as a shred of remorse over the pain they're causing us.

I hate them.

August 31, 1986

Continuing this.

The worst part of all is that they're here all day every day, making repairs again -- only now they're working on the inside of the house, instead of the outside. There is no place to hide, and the tension is unbearable. Yesterday they were painting the kitchen. Barbara was down on her hands and knees, going through all my cupboards, sorting through everything we own; I can't even describe how violated I felt. Peg was busy taking my pictures off the walls and taking down the curtains, and Barbara was sorting through the drawers, both of them without a word to me ... it was like being raped. It made me feel so invalidated ... as though the past six years of running this household meant nothing at all, because now here were these other women stripping the place of all traces of me, going over everything with Spic & Span ...

Both of my in-laws are aware of how angry I am. I barely spoke two words to them yesterday. At one point I nearly lost my temper with Barbara. She was sorting through the cupboards under the kitchen sink, a job I'd done myself less than two weeks ago. "Come ON!" I snapped, exasperated. "I just DID this!" (Then, to soften it a little, I hastily added a lame "I don't want you to waste your time ...")

They'll be here again in about half an hour. I still haven't taken my shower so I'm going to have to quit writing now. There is still so much I have to tell you, though, including a major new development involving Ray ... a decision I've reached about Tony ... and an amusing anecdote about Jamie. Things are happening faster than I can write about them now.

11 a.m.

They've only been here for an hour and already I've been on the verge of tears three or four times. Now I'm drinking a quick sneaky beer while my mother-in-law paints the bathroom. A couple of thoughts are emerging this morning:

Someday ... some way ... I will be in a house again, and it will feel like home, and no one and nothing short of a hurricane will get me to leave if I don't want to. Someday I will feel some roots again, if it's the last thing I ever do.

As much as I dislike - hate, even - my in-laws, I'm going to maintain at least a semblance of cordiality. They are my children's' grandparents, for one thing. For another - I may need their help in the months to come.

Now for the other stuff.

1. About Ray. He now knows about my applying for public assistance and my plans to move into an apartment with the kids ... and he is offering NO resistance at all.  On Saturday, when the in-laws were painting the kitchen and things were really tense - I was in tears again - I told Ray to "stop painting for a minute and take me to Wendy's for a Coke." ("I want to talk to you alone," I said pointedly, with a glance in his mother's direction.) We jumped in the car and drove down to QFC; he bought two cans of beer and we sat in the car, drinking them. I told him everything. (Well. Not about Tony. But everything else.) I don't know what I expected from him ... tears, maybe, or threats. What I didn't expect was his total, bland, unemotional acceptance. You'd think I'd just told him I had a hangnail! I'm relieved, of course, and pleased ... it makes things a helluva lot easier ... but I'm surprised that he didn't put up any kind of fight.

2. About Tony. I had an odd experience the other day. At the risk of sounding absurdly metaphysical, I'd say it was almost an "out of body" experience. All of a sudden I was standing off to one side, watching everything, and I understood finally that there is no hope of there ever being anything real between Tony and me - even if I wanted there to be - which I'm not so sure of anymore. I guess you could say I finally see the warts on the frog, and I realize he is never ever gonna turn into my prince ...

3. Amusing anecdote about Jamie: she told my father-in-law, "My mom's gonna run away!"

Monday, Labor Day
September 1, 1986

Finally ... some good news to report. God knows I could use some. Linda stopped by at noon today with some papers DSHS sent me  ...  my financial assistance award. I'm eligible! I'm going to be getting an initial check within the next few days, for $708, and $578 a month thereafter. That's about twenty dollars a month more than I expected. Also, I'm getting an initial allotment of $389 worth of food stamps! (and $184 a month thereafter). This means I'll have enough money and food stamps to get into an apartment and stock it with food, in preparation for what I'm sure will be the lean months ahead ...

I'm really pleased about this. So is Linda. She said, "You're over the hump!" I replied, "Well ... I think I'm in the middle of the hump, actually." What is really extraordinary was that I was able to show the papers to Ray. I'm so glad that things are out in the open now. He looked at my stuff and said, "That's great!" (He was in a hurry - he's working with Tony today - so we didn't get a chance to discuss it at any length.)

Tomorrow I begin an aggressive apartment search. There is a slight chance I may be able to get into Bellpark East for $425 a month - a little bit more than I can afford, but maybe I can swing it. With three kids I've got to take whatever I can get.

More tomorrow.

September 3, 1986
Wednesday 6 a.m. (can't sleep)

I may have found an apartment for the kids and I!  It's too soon to get excited about it - or so I keep telling myself! - since I haven't put any money down on it yet. But the prospects look so good, it's difficult NOT to get excited. The complex is called Westwood Square, and it's located in Juanita, about ten minutes from where we're living now. Ray took me to see the place yesterday, after I phoned and talked to the manager. The manager told me there will be a two bedroom vacancy on the 15th of this month, and he showed me around a unit similar to the one that will be available. Journal ... I was stunned. It was lovely! I can't believe how nice it was! (Virtually the first thing I asked the manager was, "Are children allowed?" He laughed and said, "Hey - we all start out as one.") It has an upstairs and downstairs - a half bathroom (toilet & sink) down, full bath up - lost of closet space - a nice kitchen (I forgot to notice whether or not there's a dishwasher, tho) and a real nice living room - a small patio off the living room, and - here's what I like - a small grassy yard beyond the patio, where the kids can play. It won't be the same as tearing up and down this neighborhood with their gang of friends, but it'll do. And I'm sure they'll make new friends quickly; the complex was swarming with kids.

It's kind of funny. Yesterday morning when I got out of bed, my first thought was "Today I am going to find a place to live." I went next door to Lori's, armed with the classifieds and a cup of coffee, and I started making calls. The fourth or fifth call I made was to this apartment complex. Right away I got a good feeling about it: I just knew that this very well might be the place I've been looking for. The rent is a tiny bit higher than I'd planned on - $425 a month - but all the advantages are there. Two bedrooms. All three of my kids allowed. On the Eastside - convenient for moving, close enough for Ray to visit his kids. And then when I actually saw the place, I wanted to jump up and down and shout, "This is it! This is it!" It was just so clean and airy and modern and roomy.

2:15 p.m.

Life is what happens to you when you've made other plans ...

I've been so up and down today, I feel like a fucking yo-yo. I've had good news and bad news. First, the good news: I got my first assistance check ($708) and my food stamps ($389). Linda brought them by around noon. 

Unfortunately, this was the point at which things stopped being easy. My next stop - the apartment complex - proved a major disappointment. It seems the manager "isn't sure" if they can accept me as a tenant. They're worried that my monthly income is too low. They're going to call me tonight to let me know one way or the other. I am so heartsick, I could cry. Just when I think things are finally going my way - boom - I run into another brick wall. It just isn't fair. 

Well. Anyhow. Now all there is to do is sit and wait.

The house is a complete and total disaster area ... boxes of stuff everywhere, nothing on the walls, walls and ceiling wet with paint. The girls' bedroom is completely stripped and everything they own is packed already. I was so sure I would get this apartment that (like a total dope) I told the in-laws that the kids and I would be out by the 15th, and I went ahead and started packing. Now I'm sitting here in the middle of this disaster area that used to be my home ... 180 degrees emotionally from where I was yesterday at this time ... what the heck am I gonna do??

Of course, there's still a slight chance that I may get the apartment after all, but I'm feeling so bruised and let-down by life that I can't even make myself hope.

Sept. 4, 1986

Feeling defeated. Still no final word on the apartment, but I'm pretty sure I won't get it ... the manager's wife sounded very reluctant to rent it to me, in spite of my reassurances and pleading. So - as Kacie would say - phooey!

Last night my brother said we could have his two bedroom house in White Center, which he is moving out of shortly, for $300 a month. Two weeks ago I would have sneered at the thought of living in "Rat City," but today I'm so desperate that even this offer sounds good. Unfortunately Dick was three-quarters smashed when I talked to him - so was I, for that matter - and I don't know if he was sincere.

Tony stayed over last night, for the first time in quite awhile. I am pleased to report that I behaved myself and did not make any advances ... (being turned down on the apartment was enough rejection for one day, thank you) ... I think he was a little surprised (and no doubt relieved) when I excused myself and went to bed ahead of everyone else. I must be honest, however, and say that it took EVERY OUNCE OF WILLPOWER I could muster ...

Oh well. At least we don't have the in-laws here today, and they won't be here tomorrow, either. The quiet and the privacy are nice. Especially as hungover as I am today.

I haven't written much about the kids in awhile. Things have been so unexpectedly tumultuous this summer that they've kinda gotten lost in the shuffle, at least as far as my written accounts are concerned. They are still the little delights of Mama's life. (Correction: they are the ONLY delights of Mama's life ...)

Friday 7 p.m.
September 5, 1986

Things remain scrambled. WHERE THE HELL ARE THE KIDS & I GOING TO LIVE????? The uncertainty of the situation - the unanswered questions - are so frightening.

Friday 8 a.m.
September 12, 1986

A full week has passed since I've written, and many things have happened. Tony showed up unexpectedly last weekend and spent two days with us; when he's here, I feel a little silly writing in my journal ... as though he can read my mind and knows exactly what I'm writing about him ... so this journal had to sit untouched for awhile. Then I took Kyle down to Grandma Vert's for a couple of days, so I could search for an apartment in the South end. (The girls stayed here with Ray.) I took my journal with me, in case I had some extra time for writing, but as things turned out I didn't.

Foggy, cold morning. Neighborhood children are walking to school. Ray, fortified by a cup of coffee and a quick bowl of oatmeal, just left for another day of landscaping with Tony ... a temporary job, but at least there'll be a little money coming in. All three of my children are sitting with me here in the living room as I drink my coffee and watch "Good Morning America." Jamie is sitting in the armchair making car noises, pretending that she's driving Rosie (her doll/daughter) to school ... Kacie has a pile of storybooks in the middle of the floor and is "reading aloud" ... Kyle, laying on the floor at my feet, has rolled onto his side and is patting the sofa, peering up at me. ("Anyone wanna feed Henry?" I say, holding up the half-empty bottle. Kacie is instantly on her feet. "I will! I will!" she shouts.) The dryer hums in the bathroom; three baskets of neatly-folded laundry sit in front of the TV. The house is tidier than it's been in weeks; except for the fact that there are no pictures hanging on the walls, anywhere in the entire house, things seem completely "normal." If I squint my eyes and use little imagination, I could almost make myself believe that it's 1985 again, and that things are just the way they used to be ... I can forget for a few minutes how much everything has changed, and that I only have eighteen days left in this house ...

I have found us an apartment   ...  a depressing little rat-hole down by the airport, The Shannon South Apartments. Well, OK ... actually, it's not all THAT bad. It's fairly large, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms; it has a big play area for the kids; and it's only eight blocks from Mom's house.   The rent is only $360 a month. Best of all (all things considered), they accepted me as a tenant! Not an unimportant consideration. When the manager was showing me around one of the vacant units, I said lamely, "It's lovely." In truth, I felt like crying. Tacky blue shag carpeting ... broken light fixtures ... horrible wallpaper in the kitchen, something that looked like children's wrapping paper. And everywhere was that same damp, mildewy smell I remember from the grungy apartment I shared with Terry a few years ago. Mom was with me (holding Kyle) as we checked out the place and I filled out the rental application. She agreed to co-sign for me, which actually was the deciding factor in the mgr's decision to rent to me ... otherwise I don't think she would have ... no one wants to rent to a woman with three kids and only $600 monthly income. (I'm fighting a growing sense of foreboding. Do they know something I don't know ...?)

Originally we were scheduled to move in this weekend. Then I got a chance to buy a car, and decided I'd better go for it now, before I get locked into paying rent every month and can barely afford a stick of gum ... so, our moving date has been rescheduled (with the manager's blessing, I might add) to October 1st. I've already put down a $50 holding fee, and it'll cost me another $410 to move in. It'll be tight, but I'll have it.

I found a car through the classifieds. I can hardly believe my good fortune: this is one of the few things that has gone right for me lately. I HAVE A CAR AGAIN!!!!!!  It's a 1972 Chevrolet Malibu, automatic transmission (of course), four-door, a light cream color with black vinyl interior. I paid $550 for it on Wednesday night. I still owe $100 on it, though, which is a minor worry at the moment. I'm almost scared to drive it. I took it around the block once on Wednesday night, but other than that I haven't taken it anywhere. I'm scared to death that I'll either crunch it before it's paid for, or else I'll get pulled over and ticketed for driving without a license and insurance.

Monday 10:30 a.m.
September 15, 1986

I'm so tired anymore. Yesterday at Ray's parents' house (to celebrate Barbara's 17th birthday) I could barely keep my eyes open, and now today I feel the same way. Kyle has reverted to waking in the middle of the night again - he got me up at 2 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. - plus I had a lot of wrenching, exhausting dreams all night long. The prospect of moving in two weeks has me deeply depressed. Maybe this is contributing to my overall tiredness. I'm sad and I'm angry and I'm worried and I'm physically run-down. I feel as if all the juice has been squeezed right out of me ...

I can't figure Ray out at all. Every time I mention moving to the apartment, in whatever context, he either says nothing at all, or else he says "Maybe something'll happen before then, and you won't have to move." What does he think will happen? His parents will have a sudden change of heart and let us stay? He'll win the lottery?? When I try to probe, he shuts me out. Maybe he thinks he'll magically get his job back at Western Kraft, and then I'll change my mind and agree to stay with him. Or maybe the reality of the situation hasn't hit him yet. He continues to act as though nothing in the world is wrong ... he's still doing his "Super Daddy" thing. (Taking the girls to feed the ducks ... getting up - ONCE - in the middle of the night to feed Kyle ... building a fort for Jamie and Kacie in the carport.) And he's still talking about groceries and meals and bowling and yard work, just as though it were 1985 and everything is the way it used to be ... it's downright FREAKY. The one time he made a serious comment about my decision to move, he said, "This is just something you've made up your mind about, I guess. I can't stop you." He sounded so resigned that I actually felt pity for him. Perhaps I'm underestimating his pain. Maybe all of this avoidance and denial is his way of dealing with it. I don't know. On a purely selfish level, I'm glad that he's making things so easy for me. It would be a hell of a lot harder to go if he were fighting me on it. I would hate to be leaving with things ugly between the two of us. It especially wouldn't be good for the kids.

On the other hand, Jamie is obviously confused about this whole situation. If Mama and Daddy are such good friends, how come we're not going to live together anymore?  I've explained it to her as best I can: I said that Daddy just needs some time to get a new job and find a new place to live, and that while he does that, Mama and the kids will stay in a nice little apartment near Grandma Beeson's house. The problem with this explanation is that it leaves her with the impression that we'll all be together again eventually, and while I won't completely discount that possibility - who knows what might happen? - I can't make her any promises, either. I don't even know myself whether the marriage is over  ...  or simply on hiatus. After I've been in the apartment for a month or two, maybe I'll have a clearer idea. In the meantime, though, things are in limbo.

In the midst of all this depression and confusion and running around trying to get things taken care of, I have lost sight of the reason why I'm doing this in the first place. Everything has gotten muddled in my head and heart. This morning in the shower I tried to straighten it out, a little. I realized, first of all, that the seeds of my discontent were sown long before this tumultuous summer ... I've been unhappy in my marriage for a long time, but I've never been brave enough or motivated enough to do anything about it. But then, this summer, two things happened to change that: my stupid infatuation with Tony, and Ray losing his job. Taken individually, neither would have been enough of a catalyst to make me leave. But put together with my waning feelings for Ray and the generally unpleasant condition of our marriage, I suddenly felt that staying would actually be the bigger mistake. The door is open, and my escape route is plotted. If I don't take this chance and run with it, now, I may never get another ...

But still. Spending these last few weeks here in this house is clouding the issue: I feel some of my precious motivation slipping away with each day that passes ...

I must keep reminding myself: This is your chance. Don't blow it. Don't start feeling timid and lazy and comfortable again. Remember why you're doing this - because you want something better for yourself and for your children. You're not leaving because Ray got fired ... or for Tony ... or because you need a "break" from your marriage. Those are only excuses. You're leaving because your very EXISTENCE depends on it ...

More later maybe.

Tuesday evening 6 p.m.
Sept. 17, 1986

Kyle loves his walker! Tonight his little feet managed to connect with the floor for the first time while he was sitting in it, and he pushed himself straight up into a standing position. He CROWED with delight!  Now he's sitting in front of the TV, playing with the tin cookie cutters, watching his sisters eat their macaroni and cheese. An old "Gimme A Break" re-run on TV. Occasionally I catch his eye, and he breaks into a huge happy grin. I love him so much. He's such a dear, responsive, sweet little guy ... my little man ... he brings so much sunshine into our lives. Lord knows we need it.

8 p.m.

My sleepy son has gone to bed for the night; Ray has taken the girls to Totem Lake to pick up a pizza (a rare indulgence, to celebrate Ray's first unemployment check). "Remington Steele" is on TV, a show I love. I actually feel pretty good this evening, emotionally. Odd, when you consider the present condition of my life. Mrs. Pearce from across the street came over this evening to see Kyle, and to ask a few good-naturedly-nosy questions about our move. I guess the rumors are flying all over the neighborhood! She said, "I'll miss seeing your little girls riding their bikes on the side of the road." I had a lump in my throat when she said that. It occurs to me that I'm going to miss not only this house, but also this neighborhood. I always assumed my children would grown up here on this street, with the Harlan kids and the S's and the Kennedys and the Beckers and (yes) the Pearces. I just took it for granted that we'd be here for years and years, and it makes me very sad now to realize we won't. I feel as though the children are losing something very precious, and it just kills me. It's unreasonable to lay blame, but I do. I blame myself, for not being able to make my marriage work.  I blame my in-laws. I am very angry with them, almost to the point of hating them. It was an incredible strain being cordial to them on Sunday, at Barbara's birthday dinner, although I did manage for Barbara's sake. And I blame Tony.  He owes me money at the moment (like a fool I loaned him twenty dollars) and is avoiding paying me back. Then tonight Ray casually told me that Tony is moving to Seattle with his ex-girlfriend Jodi.  That was the last straw.  I finally seem to be cured of the guy. I see him more objectively now than I did in July, when I was so starry-eyed. He is manipulative, unreliable and conniving. I'm almost embarrassed by how readily I was taken in.

And yet - in spite of all this negative stuff swirling around in my head this evening - I feel some relative inner peace. I have this vision of myself a month or so from now, when we're moved into the new apartment ... the kids are in bed, I'm alone like I am now, sitting in bed with a small lamp on, reading a book and drinking a cup of something hot. Maybe not "home," exactly, but at least "settled." I'm a little scared to think about how alone I will be then ... just me and the kids. I'm afraid the first few nights will be very rough. But I'm also almost looking forward to it. I know that my moving at this specific point in my life sets off a chain of events totally beyond my control, and there's something scarily exhilarating about that ...



Wednesday morning
September 18, 1986

Stomach ache. Period is due today. House is a mess, laundry piled to the rafters ... how can I start packing when I can't even get caught up on the day-to-day stuff?? Feeling hopelessly bogged down. Dreamed about Tony most of the night ... sad little dreams that reflect my disappointment and anger and embarrassment. (No one to blame but myself ... ) I think today I'll sit down and read this entire journal. Maybe that will help put the past four months into some perspective.

(After reading for awhile) 

Well. This journal is certainly more entertaining than any others I've kept recently. The past four months have been unbelievably eventful.


Rainy and cold. Jamie, Kacie, Kyle and Charlie from next door are all on the floor in front of the TV, watching "The Flintstones." My cousin Linda stopped by a little while ago with our Social Security cards, and we visited for about half an hour. "You've come a long way in a short time," she said cheerfully, when I told her about the apartment and showed her my new car. It was just the sort of optimistic reinforcement that I needed. I've been feeling so uncertain the past couple of days ... so unsure of the soundness of my judgment. Do I really know what I'm doing?



Monday morning 11:30
September 22, 1986

I've been a complete physical WRECK the past few days and haven't felt much like writing. My period started on Friday and I had cramps all weekend. I've also come down with a horrible cold .. this is the sickest I've been since before Kyle was born. And on top of everything else, I'm walking around with a dilly of a black eye! You should see me ... I'm this pathetic, bruised, bedraggled mess ...

The black eye is from Ray, believe it or not. He got rip-roaring drunk on Friday night and passed out on the sofa. At 1 a.m. Kyle woke up, screaming to be fed, but when I went out to the kitchen I discovered we had no formula. I tried to wake Ray up, hoping I could get him to drive to 7-11, but he was still drunk and he didn't comprehend what I was saying to him. I was very annoyed, and I started shouting at him to get up. It was late, I was exhausted, I was mad ... I had cramps ... Kyle was slung over my shoulder, yelling his head off. Something in me just snapped. Ray finally got up off the sofa and stumbled down the hallway towards the bedroom, presumably to get his shoes and find his car keys. I sat down and attempted to comfort Kyle, who by now had worked himself into a royal rage, but when a few minutes had passed and Ray still had not reappeared, I went back to the bedroom to investigate. He had gotten back into bed and gone back to sleep!!  Kyle, in my arms, started screaming again. I don't know, Journal ... something in my just came unglued. Ray looked up at me with this cross, dopey expression, completely unaware of anything that was going on, and I just totally lost my cool and slapped his face. Enraged, he leapt out of bed and threw me on the floor (luckily I had the presence of mind to toss Kyle onto the bed) and he started pounding me in the face with his fists. Jamie heard the noise and started screaming when she saw what was happening. I was yelling at Ray that I hate him, that he's disgusting, that I can never count on him for anything ... I threw things at him, and he slapped me as hard as he could, over and over. It was a slice of hell. I don't even remember how or when it ended: everything was a blur. Ray finally left the room and passed out on the couch again. In a fog of pain, anger and tears, I fed Kyle a bottle of cow's milk and water. (He had diarrhea for two days afterward.)

The next morning Ray didn't remember much of what had happened. He saw my swollen, bruised face and he cringed. "I feel like dirt," he said. I felt as though part of it was my fault, since I threw the first punch, but there's plenty of blame on both sides. Besides: we're separating next week, so I'm not going to make a big stink about anything right now.

Anyway. On Saturday I went shopping and bought myself a much-needed pair of jeans. The girls came with me: we went to Fred Meyer and had a lot of fun! I bought them each a new box of crayons and a tablet. After we shopped, we went into the little café and split an order of French fries; then the girls had their pictures taken in one of those $1.00 instant photo booths, went on a couple of horsie rides and bought a gumball. It was a morning of cheap entertainment.

With my girls
Fall 1986

Jamie got sick with a cold this weekend, and the next day both Kyle and I had it. His nose is runny and he's sleeping twice as much as usual. Today Kacie has it.



Tuesday 9 a.m.
September 23, 1986

Heavy rain. This is the first official day of autumn. My cold has settled into my chest today.



September 24, 1986

My heart is heavy today. I feel the minutes ticking away, faster than I can hold them. The final days in the Kirkland house. There is something achingly "normal" about these last days ... I carry the garbage can out to the curb, make my coffee, start a load of laundry ... I sit here and look out the window as I drink coffee, and the neighborhood is so familiar and dear. Things seem so routine, and yet underneath it all I feel a wild, desperate sadness. How will I survive leaving here??? Journal, I am so scared. I'm terrified. How will I ever get over the pain of leaving this place? How will I possibly be able to adjust to the apartment? I love this house so much. Will the people who lived here after we're gone love it the same way? Somehow I doubt it. They'll move in and bring all of their furniture and belongings, hang their pictures on the wall, live their lives, drink their coffee ... but they'll know nothing about the family who lived here before they did. At least when you die they put a headstone on your grave, so passersby will read your name and know that you existed. When you move out of a house, you leave nothing behind. I wish I could leave something: a marker, a plaque, a legacy of some sort. Something that would say, perhaps:



Ray has taken the girls (in my new car) to Pietro's to get a pizza. Kyle, in a dry diaper and a T-shirt with little airplanes and trucks on it, lays on his tummy on the living room floor, playing with his dirty sweatshirt, a rubber chicken toy and the Happy Apple. His chubby legs wave wildly around in the air, and he emits an occasional "mmmmm!" or growl or wet raspberry by way of editorial comment. It is dark, cold and getting late; I am tired after a long day of sorting and packing. My throat is still raw and my nose is running and my eye is turning a disgusting yellow-green. I haven't worn any makeup in three days and my hair is a mess: I would die if anyone showed up right now. (It's funny ... when Ray showed up earlier this afternoon, I anxiously scanned the car to make sure Tony wasn't with him. Even though I know that everything is over forever and that he won't be coming to visit anymore, ever ... I still feel no sense of closure. I don't feel that things have ended: there's no period at the end of the sentence. I still keep expecting to turn around and find him standing there. Residual symptoms, I guess.)

Kyle is too cute to resist ... he's maneuvered himself around so that now he can see me sitting here on the couch ... now he's watching me and trying to get my attention by making his little growly noises and kicking his fat legs and sticking out his tongue at me. I MUST go nuzzle him!!

(From now on, my children are going to be the priority again. This is probably to make up for the fact that I'm leaving for purely selfish reasons.)



Friday morning
September 26, 1986
(Dallas comes back on tonight - whoopee!!! With the "resurrected" Bobby Ewing ...??)

One item of good news, plus an ominous new development.

First, the good news: Mr. Wei telephoned me last night and said I don't have to pay the remaining $50 I owe him for the car! He said, "My wife and I discussed it, and we have decided that this is our gift to you." I was speechless with gratitude. I've been worrying about how I could possibly scrape together the last fifty bucks, but now the car is mine, free and clear. Hurray.

The bad news (as usual) concerns Ray. Suddenly "Super Daddy" has turned into Phil Donahue. Last night he said, "Sit down. I want to say something to you." Then he went off on this long monologue, about how he's always taken me for granted but now he really "appreciates" me, and how he's going to do everything he can to prove it ... how he loves his family and he's going to make sure we "stay" a family ... "We're all gonna be back together real soon," he said. I felt my stomach beginning to knot. "I'll be down to see you guys three or four times a week," he went on, "and I'll help you out as much as I can." The more he talked, the more I realized that he has no idea how I really feel: that he thinks this separation is for purely financial reasons, nothing else.  Have I somehow misled him?? Unfortunately I think I may have. These past few weeks of friendliness and rapport between the two of us have apparently left him with the impression that I'm moving because of money ONLY.



Friday morning
October 3, 1986

Well ... here it is. The end of an era. Tomorrow the kids and I leave this house forever. I am engulfed in sadness.

Yesterday I drove down to the apartment and finished paying the damage deposit and the first months' rent. The entire day was a nightmare from beginning to end. Ray was off somewhere working with Tony, so I had no one to watch the kids ... I had to take all three of them with me. Kacie was carsick the whole day, Kyle was screaming bloody murder from his carseat in the back, it was my first time driving on the freeway in years (and the first prolonged drive in the Malibu), and I was scared witless. And of course I managed to get lost two or three times. To top it all off, I had a HELL of a time trying to find a bank that would open a checking account for me, mainly because I don't have any valid I.D. I'd stop at a bank, drag in the kids and the baby and the diaper bag, explain my situation to some official-looking person - and promptly be turned down. It was degrading and depressing beyond belief. Finally, I turned the car in the direction of my childhood neighborhood and went to my old bank - ONB in Boulevard Park. It took some tears and pleading on my part -- God, I feel like the world is stripping off every shred of my pride and dignity, layer by layer -- but the bank finally agreed to open an account for me. So I was able to cash my welfare check and pay the apartment manager.

We got to see the new apartment, briefly. It's still being painted so I only got a quick look around. I honestly don't know whether I'm more encouraged or discouraged ... it's a mixture of both, I guess. The apartment itself is OK - the inside of it, I mean. It's clean. The bedrooms are a nice size, and I do like the idea of the kids having their own bathroom. And the carpeting in my unit is BEIGE, not blue. Thank God!  I'm sure that once I get all of our stuff moved in and put my pictures on the walls and make it "our" place, I'll like it just fine. Or at the very least I'll be able to tolerate it. The part that discourages me is the general ambiance of the complex itself. It's not a slum, exactly, but there is a sad, shabby, broken-down feeling about the place. It's definitely the poor side of town. I hate sounding like such a snob, but a secret part of me is screaming "I deserve better than this! My children deserve better than this!"  It makes me feel sick and scared and defeated, and mad as HELL, and so, so sad ...

Last night while I was watching TV I suddenly began to cry. For a long time I've been numb about the prospect of moving ... it hasn't seemed entirely real ... but now the reality is sinking in, and I'm stunned by how much it hurts. I'm sitting here this morning, alone in the living room with my coffee, and the sadness is deepening. Ray and the kids are still in bed. I have a hideously long day ahead of me, and I honestly don't know how I'm going to manage it without falling apart. (I look out the window and see the neighborhood kids walking to school, and tears spring to my eyes ... I grab the afghan off the sofa and bury my face in it, letting out a long, anguished moan. My heart is breaking. Suddenly I hear a soft noise in the hallway, and I see Kacie standing there, asking for cereal. I am instantly back to normal. There is no way I will allow the girls to see the depths of my pain. I figure that if I am brave and optimistic and matter-of-fact about the move, they will be too. And who knows? If I pretend to be brave and optimistic, perhaps a bit of the pretense will sink in and become real ... )

Well, I've got to go. It's 8:30 a..m. I need to take a shower and get started dismantling the house and preparing for tomorrow. The next time I write, I will be in the apartment.

Goodbye, little house. You have been a place of love and comfort and hope. I will miss you - and I will NEVER forget you.

My beloved 'Kirkland House'

5:30 p.m.

Tony was just here for a few minutes. Ray isn't home, so we had a chance to talk alone. Everything ends at once, Journal ... all the doors shut at the same time. We had one of our read-between-the-lines conversations, the kind where nothing is said but everything is SAID. ("Jodi and I are getting along pretty good," he said. "I'm glad," I said, mostly sincerely.) Now I'm sitting here in my house, for the final evening ever, surrounded by boxes and boxes of packed belongings, and another little door in my heart just slammed shut ...

Goodbye, Tony ...



Friday morning
October 24, 1986

I had "The Moving Dream" last night, for the first time since we moved into our apartment. In the dream I was being forced against my will to move out of this place ("But I LIKE my new apartment!" I wailed miserably) and into a tiny, run-down apartment across the street. I woke up in tears. It has taken me a while this morning - aided by strong coffee and raisin toast - to shake off the lingering sorrow the dream stirred in me. It has not escaped my notice that 1986 has been the year that Terri lost not one but two cherished homes:  the airport finally bought out Grandma and Grandpa's house last spring, my childhood home, and then I lost the Kirkland house. A double whammy. It's no wonder my pain and insecurity are manifesting themselves in uneasy dreams. I suppose that The Moving Dream will follow me, like a faithful poltergeist, for the rest of my life, no matter where I live. I will never be as secure as I'd like to be. There will always be that nagging fear that "Someone" - the Port of Seattle, Scott W., my in-laws, whatever Unseen Authority - can tell me to pack my bags and get out ...

... But I don't mean to end my three week silence in such a despairing frame of mind ...

Three weeks have passed since my last entry, and I am alive and well and living on welfare in Seattle, Washington!  

Life goes on. The kids and I are more or less all moved in and adjusting to the new dynamics of apartment life. I must tell you - I like this apartment MUCH more than I expected to. This comes as a huge surprise. I was expecting the place to be a dump, for one thing ... a cramped, moldy little shoebox ... but it isn't. My first impressions of the place were way off the mark. Our apartment is spacious, light and airy. I don't have as much closet and cupboard space as I did at the house, naturally, and I do miss my old kitchen. But there are compensations. The living room is positively CAVERNOUS ... the piddly little pieces of furniture I brought with me (one armchair, a coffee table, a lamp, the camphor chest, the TV) are all but swallowed up by it. (I need a sofa, I think.) And the luxury of having a bathroom all to myself is beyond compare!

Kyle and I are sharing the master bedroom, which, like the living room, is enormous. I've got my queen size bed and a dresser plus Kyle's crib in there, and there's still room to spare. (Kyle's dresser is in my closet.) My bedroom is decorated very simply and femininely ... flowers and baby pictures on the dresser, a small new lamp and some books on my night-stand, some of my old stuffed animals and dolls scattered around. My bathroom - which has a shower, toilet, sink and vanity countertop - is adorned with my jewelry box, my collection of miniature perfume bottles, a glass bowl of potpourri, the new electric hair-setter, other odds and ends. It is obviously a woman's bathroom! I love it.

The girls share the other bedroom: I've put one single bed in there for them to share. They either sleep together in it, or else (usually) one of them sleeps with me. They've got a dresser and the bookcase and a huge closet for toys and clothes, and a few of their old familiar posters on the wall. It's usually a mess in there, just the way it was at the house. Some things never change ... !

In decorating our new apartment, I've attempted to strike a balance between making it look exactly like the house did, and making it look as different as possible. On the one hand, I do want it to feel like "home," as much for myself as for the kids. So there are family photos hanging on a few of the walls, just the way they did at the house, and there are plenty of familiar knick-knacks and doodads all over the place. On the other hand, I want this apartment to represent the next step forward in my life, and in the kids' lives - I don't want it to be merely an unhealthy continuation of Kirkland - I don't want to cling to the past. So I'm balancing the old with the new. The piano is gone - I sold it to the Harlans - but I've now got my great-grandmother's antique treadle sewing machine set up for display. There are fewer plants and more books. I plan to shop around for some new things to decorate with, at the secondhand stores ... maybe some big floor pillows, or a different lamp, or an area rug. Something to give our new home a new look and feel.

But beyond just like the way the apartment looks, I am also thrilled with the way it FEELS to be living here. The pure pleasure of being head of the household is an unexpected dividend!  Sure, there is a lot of anxiety and pressure and responsibility involved. I feel the weight of it, 24 hours a day. I hear a strange noise in the middle of the night and wonder who will go out to the living room to investigate ... then I realize it has to be ME.  There is no big strong Daddy or Husband around to be the "protector." I know that if one of the kids gets sick or hurt, I'm the one responsible for getting them to the doctor. I have to pay the bills and put gas in the car and buy the groceries and fix the broken toys. I have to deal with nasty neighbors. I'm the disciplinarian and the diagnostician and the dietitian. The head of the family. And  ...  I like it!  So far, anyway! I feel a greater sense of freedom - odd, considering that I have three kids!! - than I can ever remember feeling, and it's wonderful. I feel like I am finally growing up a little, after years and years of constantly depending on someone else for everything from moral support to groceries, and I can't even begin to describe how nice it feels. And this apartment serves as a sort of tangible symbol of my budding independence. I look around and think, This is my place. No one else can tell me where to put the furniture or when to wash the dishes or what to cook for dinner. I'm in charge! The apartment is a large part of my happiness. But I'm consciously making an effort not to get too deeply attached to the place, since I know that we'll have to move again someday - who knows when? - and I don't want to feel as wrenched emotionally when that time comes as I did leaving the Kirkland house. I doubt that that will happen anyway, but just in case, I'll try to manage a bit of detachment and not allow too much of my heart to get tied up in this place ...

Moving was no picnic. Ray, Tony and Ray's mother helped, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Ray and Tony were great. They diligently lugged in all of my furniture and the endless boxes of stuff without complaint. My mom-in-law, on the other hand, was chillier than a polar ice cap. It is clear that she and I belong now, officially, to enemy camps. (But I won't dwell on that subject right now.) The day after I wrote my last journal entry, three weeks ago - Saturday - we began moving. The kids and I drove down in my car, late in the afternoon, and waited here in the empty apartment while Ray and Tony drove the truck down with the first load of furniture. I had about an hour and a half before the guys got here, and I used the time to wander around and thoroughly inspect the place for the first time. My mom dropped by with a flowering plant as a housewarming gift, and she waited with us until Ray and Tony showed up. ("So I finally get to meet Tony," she said. I'm not positive, but I think she suspects.) That first night we moved in the beds and dressers. Ray and Tony were both very impressed with the apartment. ("I thought you said it was a dump?" Ray exclaimed in surprise.) After they brought in the furniture, we all drove back to Kirkland to spend one final night at the house. Tony stayed over, just like old times. We got a pizza and watched some TV and all went to bed early, and his presence was a pleasant distraction ... it made the "final night" a great deal less painful than it would have been otherwise. Ray had a bad cold, so I slept in the girls' nearly-empty bedroom. I spent my last night in the Kirkland House looking out the curtainless window, at the trees and the night sky, remembering six years of love and heartache ...

Over the course of the next few days we got more of our stuff moved in. The first night the kids and I spent here was a Sunday ...  and yes, I felt a little "lost" that first night, almost to the point of wishing Ray were here. I cooked some frozen chicken and instant mashed potatoes for dinner, and the kids and I ate dinner in front of the TV and watched "Our House," and then we went to bed at 8 p.m. I lay there in my bed and listened to the unfamiliar sounds of the apartment ... the gas furnace, footsteps in the apartment above me, cars in the parking lot outside the window ... and I felt completely adrift in the world. No Ray snoring next to me. (Kyle snoring in his crib on the other side of the room was tiny comfort.) No familiar neighbors on all sides of me. No creaky old refrigerator rattling in the kitchen. I felt I'd lost my tether, my anchor, my gravitational pull ... it was a difficult night. I dreamed that I was yelling at my mother-in-law, screaming at her, and I woke (when Kyle woke) in such rage and agitation, I was covered with sweat.

But it didn't last for long. Very soon I began to settle in and meet a few of my neighbors and get used to the newness, until now, today, when I feel some direction has been restored, and I'm actually feeling borderline GOOD ...

I'm babysitting for one of my neighbors. Her name is Stephanie, and although she's pretty frugal about disclosures about her personal life, I know that she has recently gone on welfare too, and that there is no man in her life - I know THAT story myself - and I sense that she feels as bewildered and out of place as I do sometimes. She is very nice. Her daughter, Courtney, is a four month old pixie. I've been watching her every day this week (6 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.) while Stephanie works temporarily at Boeing. She is supposed to pay me $15 a day for babysitting, but she's having some problems with the local DSHS office and it may be awhile before I actually see any money. (A minor disappointment, I must admit, because I could use the money ... but in the interest of my budding friendship with Stephanie, I'm being - or trying to be - very understanding.) Life this week with TWO babies has been nerve-wracking, to put it gently. Courtney misses her Mommy and wants to be held every minute. Kyle has begun rolling in earnest now, and I'm forever rescuing him from impossible jams ... not to mention his fondness for electrical cords, new magazines and plastic garbage bags, and his bottomless pit of an appetite ... I've been run ragged. Naturally they insist on napping in "shifts," so at least one of them is ALWAYS awake and demanding something. I have gained new respect for mothers of twins, as a result of this.

Kyle and Courtney
Fall/Winter 1986

Just as I was hasty in my judgment of the apartment itself, I also misjudged the neighborhood. I said it was "sad, shabby, broken down" ....  I was worried about the other people who live here, all the hookers and drug dealers and felons I imagined were living in this apartment complex. I thought I was moving my little family straight into the ghetto. Well ... this IS definitely a different neighborhood than Kirkland. There are a lot of different minority and ethnic groups represented, and no one seems to have a lot of money. And I've actually seen some teenagers smoking crack out in the parking lot. A few of the tenants are downright creepy, too: I won't venture out of the apartment after dark. But for every unsavory type around here, I would say there are another three basically decent, pleasant, "normal" people here, like me. (?) It's a jeans and T-shirts neighborhood ... macaroni and cheese, ten year old cars, tricycles on the patio ... and the kids and I fit right in. So I just stay away from the creeps and stick to my own business and everything is just fine. There is no room in my life for snobbery. I'm not living in my white bread Kirkland neighborhood anymore: I doubt that I even belonged there in the first place. I'm "home" now, in every sense of the word.



October 27, 1986
Monday morning (no Courtney today)

The kids have had very little problem adjusting to life in the apartment - and life without Daddy. I think this may because I eased into the situation gradually. There was no hasty, packing-and-leaving-in-the-middle-of-the-night ugliness ... no terrible final confrontation with Ray ... as long ago as last June I began discussing with the girls the possibility of our leaving, and I always tried to approach the subject with as much tact and optimism as I could muster. I tried to make it sound more like a beginning than an ending. Some of my (mostly feigned) enthusiasm must have rubbed off on them, because they've treated the whole thing like an adventure. And of course, there's the playground and all the new kids to play with ... this has made things easier. We weren't here for ten minutes before the girls were dangling upside-down from the swings like little a couple of baby bats, surrounded by scads of new "friends." They have fit right in. Already Jamie has become the ringleader, organizing the other kids into elaborate games of make-believe. ("OK, now I'm the teacher and you're the students.") And Kacie has a "boyfriend" named Micah ("I wan' go to my boyfriend's HOUSE" she says). A few times they've had rocks thrown at them by some of the older boys, and they're picking up a few undesirable words and mannerisms - Jamie pulled down her pants and "mooned" someone last week! - but I think that this would happen no matter where we lived. Sooner or later they had to be exposed to the real world. My first impulse, of course, is to hover over them and protect them from rock-wielding big kids and dirty words and all the other things that go on on the playground ... but I won't. Instead, I keep an eye on them from the window, bandage the "owies" as they occur, and try to balance the roughness they encounter on the playground with gentleness and discipline and values here in our home. No easy task: these are things I don't always apply to MYSELF, let alone to other people. But I'm learning, and I'm trying. I love my children very much. I'm going to do my best by them.

The kids settled into the new apartment with no trouble at all
Fall 1986

Jamie does miss Ray. Once in awhile she'll stop whatever she's doing and look at me somberly and say, "I miss my Daddy." I always feel a twinge of guilt when she says that. I was separated from my own Daddy when I was her age, and it's a heartache that I vowed my own children would avoid. But here we are anyway. I know that it's no one's "fault" ... there is no one person to blame for all of this ... but I'm afraid that when she gets older and understands the circumstances more clearly, she will blame somebody  ...  and it will probably be me. (How will she feel when she learns I had an affair? This terrifies me. Will she ever be able to understand? Will she see my side of things at all? Will Ray come out smelling like a rose ... and me like stinkweed?)  I'm encouraging her love for her Daddy as much as possible, and I'm trying to be honest with her about the situation. When she asks me, "Will we ever live with Daddy again?," I say, "I don't know.  It depends." I think she understands that some things haven't been decided yet, and at the moment she appears to trust my judgment. I hope that she senses that everything I'm doing now, I'm doing out of love for her and her sister and brother. I hope she eventually comes to understand that when she's older.

I've had time to do a lot of thinking since we moved here. I've reviewed all the things that have happened to me this past year, and have begun thinking about where I want to go from here. I feel so clear headed. I don't even mind being alone (without a man in my life, that is) because it gives me a little bit of much-needed thinking room ... something I haven't had in six years. Actually, the truth is that I'm overjoyed to be away from Ray. Not because I "hate" him -  I don't - or because I want to replace him with someone else - because I DON'T - but because it's such a relief to be alone. Towards the end of the summer he was beginning to drive me right out of my mind. All of the little quirks and petty arguments and silly differences were like salt on an open wound: everything he did rubbed me the wrong way. I needed some distance, and here in the apartment I've finally found it. I've found calm and privacy and peace ... and distance ... and it's lovely. No pressure for sex. No arguments over money. No clashing disciplinary approaches. No interference. Just time for thinking, time for the kids, time for myself ...

I realize now that my fling with Tony was stupid. I can't go back and erase what I've done, so I will just have to live with it, and learn from it. But I do finally see how pathetic the whole business was. Am I any smarter now? I don't know. I'll certainly try to be more discerning in the future, should the need ever arise.



Wednesday afternoon
October 29, 1986

Rainy afternoon. The place is beginning to feel the tiniest bit like "home" ...

"The place is beginning to feel the tiniest bit like 'home'  ... "
Fall 1986



Friday morning
October 31, 1986

Halloween. Feeling marvelously light-hearted (although a little tired) this morning. I've managed to successfully get through the first month in the apartment, and we're neither broke nor lonely. I've still got money in my checking account and some spending money in my purse ... and I get my next welfare check tomorrow! I paid all of my bills on time this month, and kept gas in my car. I'm quite proud of myself, actually!

(The only thing that isn't stretching quite as far as I would like are the food stamps ... )

Busy day ahead. Kyle, his tummy full of toast and milk, has gone down for his morning nap. Jamie and Kacie are keyed-up and anxious to trick-or-treat ... they're running around screaming like wild Indians, arguing with each other, bombarding me with questions and requests. ("Can I have a spaghetti noodle?" "Which Grandma's house do we go to first?" "What time will Daddy be here?" "Would you play ‘Ghostbusters' again?") Tonight I'm taking the kids to trick-or-treat at Grandma St. John's, Dad and Valerie's, and then Mom's. Afterwards they're going to a Halloween party here at the apartment complex. So it's a big day for them. I bought their costumes at the beginning of the month, for 75¢ apiece at Value Village - Jamie is a rag doll and Kacie is a little orange bird. I also bought some Halloween makeup so I can paint Kyle's face a little bit, maybe as a kitty or a clown.

I talked to Ray a few nights ago. He sounded pathetic. "I MISS you guys!" he said, several times, and he said he wants to come down and spend the weekend with us. Supposedly he's going to get Tony to drive him down tonight, and then he'll go home on Sunday (I assume I'll have to drive him) on Sunday. To tell you the truth, I'm not fully convinced that he'll really show up this evening. Jamie is all excited about seeing him, but I have this uneasy feeling that he'll let her down. (History repeating itself ...) I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having him around all weekend, anyway - I'm beginning to really enjoy our separation - but I know it means a lot to the kids. So, for their sake, I hope he follows through for once. I guess I can bear a couple days of aggravation and intrusion for their sake.

The girls at Grandma's house
Halloween 1986

Kyle's first Halloween!


All three of The Tots in their Halloween finery




Sunday morning, early
November 2, 1986

He followed through, and  -- I'll admit it  --  I was surprised. Friday evening, when the kids had returned from their Halloween party and I was getting Kyle ready for bed, he knocked on the door. Jamie and I answered it together, thinking it was probably another bunch of trick or treaters. It took me a few seconds to recognize the person standing on my porch! He'd just gotten another one of those silly perms he's so fond of, and his hair was a mass of Shirley Temple curls. He stood there holding a half case of beer and a pizza, grinning from ear to ear. "Oh my God," I said finally, "it's Daddy!"   "DADDY!" Jamie shrieked in delight, and Kacie came running to the door in hysterics, shouting "Daddy! Daddy!" .... it was a real hero's welcome. Even Kyle, who at the moment mistrusts everyone but Mama, seemed pleased to see his Daddy: he kicked his feet wildly and made his little "pick-me-up" noises. Ray brought a bunch of treats and food ... pizza, apples, candy, toy vampire bats for the girls, coffee for me ... and also brought my old rocking chair. We've had a fairly pleasant weekend. Yesterday he watched Kyle for two hours while I took the girls shopping and to the library. Last night we made tacos and watched TV. Right now he's sound asleep in my bed ... gee, just like old times. From my chair here in the living room I can hear him snoring. The girls have enjoyed having him around, I can tell. He went out on the playground yesterday and pushed them on the swings for a little while, and I heard Jamie bragging to the other kids that "This is my Daddy ... "

... Now he's out in the kitchen making pancakes, while the girls sit at the table and watch him. (Kyle, in his walker, does a happy little sideways-crab-walk, sucking noisily on a piece of bacon). I'll write more after he goes home tonight.


Thursday noon
November 6, 1986

Bits and Pieces:

* Kyle has begun pulling himself around the apartment by his arms, like a little salamander: he'll be crawling in another week.

* His sleeping problems are leveling off a bit ... knock wood. He was up only once last night and the night before.

* I get a phone tomorrow! Our new number is 242-6623.

* My friendship with Stephanie is blossoming. She came over this morning for coffee, and we talked nonstop for nearly two hours. I adore her.

* I have some other new friends, too ... Kelli in -16, Dawn in B-3. It feels so darned good to have "women friends" again!!

* Library books I am reading (simultaneously): "Lennon" by Ray Coleman, "Raising A Son" by Joan Solomon Wise, "Why Do I Think I Am Nothing Without A Man?" by Penelope Russianoff, "The Bachman Books" by Stephen King, "Elvis & Me" by Priscilla Presley



Wednesday 8 a.m.
November 12, 1986

There is no time for writing anymore. I take care of five kids - including two infants - from 6 a.m. until well past dinnertime. After Courtney and Little Tony have gone home to their respective Mommies, I'm too pooped to do anything but go to bed. I miss having any time to myself (or alone with my own children), but I really need the extra money that babysitting brings in ... especially with Jay's birthday and Christmas around the corner.

Bran muffins, canned peaches and powdered orange juice for breakfast, coffee for me. I had the flu for three days earlier this week, and I mean THE FLU, not just another terrible cold ... I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I'm better today but still a little weak.

Problems on my mind:

Ray.  His folks have sold the house now, and he has to be out by December 1st. "Where are you going to live?" I asked, and he simply shrugged and said, "Here." When I expressed my dismay over the idea, he got angry. The issue remains unresolved, mainly because I came down with the flu right about them (excuses, excuses) and needed his help with the kids, so I let it drop. I DO NOT WANT HIM HERE. The very thought of it gives me chills. I don't even want to be MARRIED to him anymore. Help.

Tony. No, not THAT Tony! I mean the little five yr. old  --  "Little Tony"  --  who I somehow got roped into babysitting. He's here for 15 hours a day, his mom never pays me, and I'm going out of my mind because the kid has the face of an angel and the soul of a gremlin. I can't seem to scrape up the nerve to tell Delores I want out, because I'm practically her last hope ... she's working two jobs to try and make ends meet ... I'm trying covertly to find her another sitter but so far, no luck. Help again.

This journal.  What the heck do I do with it?? Hide it in my closet for the next twenty years, until my kids are adults and (perhaps) more open-minded? Burn it? Edit it? (No way. I'm not going to go back and start ripping out pages or blacking out paragraphs. I learned that lesson the hard way, when I all but destroyed my senior year journal, editing out all references to the abortion I had when I was seventeen ... I regret that now ... I have nothing left but a superficial and falsified account of my senior year in high school.) Still, I'm not very proud of a lot of things that I've done during the time this journal covers. The affair with Tony rates as one of my all-time stupidest moves.  No matter how passionately I justify the situation, it's still going to come out sounding exactly like what it was: a tacky, pathetic, sneaky little extramarital fling, masterminded by yours truly. No one will ever believe anything else. ("So she was lonely. Why didn't she just buy a dog?")

Well. What can I say? How about a blanket apology to all of my appalled readers ... ?

To One and All, Reading This Journal Someday:

I am TRULY sorry for what I did. There is wisdom in hindsight, they say, and I realize now that what I did was wrong. Forgive me. I was
weak, lonely and vulnerable. I never meant to hurt anyone, and I am very, very sorry.

There. Maybe that'll do it. But in the meantime, I guess this will be The Lost Journal for the next decade or two. (I can just hear it. The kids, all grown up, are sitting in the attic reading Mom's old journals, enjoying the written account of their early childhoods. "Hey," says Kyle, "Where's me from one to six months??" They search amid the stacks of weather-beaten notebooks. No journal for May to November 1986! "I wonder what happened to it?" muses Jamie speculatively ... )



Thursday 8:30 a.m.
November 13, 1986

Well ... (barely audible fanfare) ... I've come to at least one decision. Naturally, it's a decision regarding the LEAST important of my problems ... but it's a start!

I'm ending this journal today. I know there are still a lot of pages left in this notebook (altho I will probably tear the blank pages out and use them for other things), but I think it's best that I conclude this journal now, stuff it onto the top shelf of my closet and start something new before any more of Kylie's precious babyhood slips away ...

In the next journal there will be no mention of the affair -- or else, only VERY heavily veiled references. (But you'll know what I'm talking about, won't you?) I'm going to try like heck to re-establish my old patterns of writing about my kids, and about the regular, day-to-day stuff that happens in our lives ... things that I'll actually want my children to read someday ...

Before I close, though, I would like to say something definitive about my relationship with Tony, and this will be my final word on the subject. I feel it only fair to point out that I didn't have the affair all by myself. (Although it FELT that way most of the time.) While I'm busy laying all the blame on myself for what happened, Tony is getting off scot-free. And that's not fair. I may have made the first move, but I wouldn't have gone as far as I did - actually falling in love with the guy  - if he hadn't encouraged me. Too late, I came to realize that all of his "sensitivity" and "sincerity" were as phony as a three dollar bill. Tony is the most opportunistic person I've ever known. I see now that he was always, ALWAYS after something. Usually it was money or drugs, but it could also be a hot meal, transportation, a couple of beers, a place to sleep, his laundry done ... or me.  And I,  dumb gullible accommodating soul that I am, I obliged him. At one point - at the height of my insanity - I would have washed his truck with my toothbrush if he'd asked me to. He took, and I gave, and that was pretty much the basis of our "relationship." If I was a fool to let him use me like that, what does it make him? A creep ... that's what. Right? He was a creep. He pretended to be so caring and genuine and bright and sensitive, but that was just a ploy to elicit more favors. He never truly cared for me, not one bit. And I think that makes him a Grade A Creep. In the annals of history, when my descendants are raking me over the coals for my immoral ways, let it be known that yes, I was stupid (I always am when it comes to men), and yes, I was wrong ... but that Tony R. was the creep who took advantage of my stupidity.

Plus his poetry was ROTTEN.

So. That takes care of the sour grapes, I guess. I don't want to spend one further moment of my life thinking or writing about it. Chapter closed forever.

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