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.
still can't listen to "Mother" (20 years later) without remembering
drowsy spring afternoon ...
A momentary lull. Kyle
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.
May 24, 1986
Well, unfortunately I
that one accurately. He didn't come
home, and I am furious. He is such an unbelievable jerk.
Still no Ray. I refuse
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:
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.
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
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!
Sister Jamie gets
to know her new baby brother ...
There is an interesting
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
(She said "I godda bay-bee BRUDDER.")
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
has formula all over his mouth). "Oh, cute fingers?" she says. "Cute
hands?" Above all else, his hands fascinate her.
May 26, 1986
Memorial Day. Cloudy,
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
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
My anger with Ray is
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
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
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
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.
May 27, 1986
("You wanna piece-selt?
your piece-selt." Kacie, talking about seat belts.)
The three day weekend is
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
May 31, 1986
I seem to have developed
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
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.
June 3, 1986
Ray's vacation is now in
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
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
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
They play SO HARD all
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
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
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
* He squeaks in indignation when left alone for too long
* I think his eyes will remain blue
Phil Donahue: "I can't
a better start in life than being a male with two older sisters."
(Honest to God! He just said that!!)
June 4, 1986
Kyle is one month old
celebrate this momentous occasion, he smiled at me for the first time
this morning!! I was delighted! :)
Yesterday I finally
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
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
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
Kyle smiled at me while
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
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.
June 9, 1986
Several days later. I
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
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
had the house "to myself" (kids don't count - they're outside all day
Kyle just "met" Sister
the first time! Now all three of my children have enjoyed my
dolly with the big smiling face.
Kyle had his first
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
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
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
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
Kyle smiles three or
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
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 ...
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.
So much for "the perfect
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.
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
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
In the meantime, however
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
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.
June 18, 1986
The days of my life
Our hot summer weather,
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
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
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 ...
June 20, 1986
The first "official" day
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
Kacie has appointed
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
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.
June 26, 1986
Warm, stuffy, sleepy
Vaguely depressed by the thought of three more months of summer ...
Kyle rolled over for the
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
chicken drumsticks for dinner.
June 27, 1986
Just put Kyle down for
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
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
Life around here goes
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
(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
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
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
June 30, 1986
Exhausted from an
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
I loved to sit in
front of the open
living room door on warm
Grandma's rocking chair, and
rock my sweet
Our weekends lately have
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
* 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
* "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,
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
My diet finally begins
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
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
Mom was here on Monday
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!
everything began to change.
July 10, 1986
Ray was fired from his
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
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.
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.
A few days later. So
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
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
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,
The past few weeks,
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
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"!
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
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
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.
a difference! The attraction began for me on that level. Just being listened
to ... what a rare and
unexpectedly wonderful thing! I thought, "I
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
He said to me, "Do you
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
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
Just before Ray was
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
"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
again ... incapable of feeling anything. That scares me more than
anything I can imagine.
With Ray suddenly out of
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,
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
(Here. I'll give you an
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
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
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
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
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
... 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.
A week later. Nothing
changed ... and everything
Ray is still treating
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
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
I was about Ray being out of work, and about the lousy condition of my
marriage - the staple worries of my life at the
- I still found myself worrying mostly about
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)
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
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.,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 ...
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 ...
July 24, 1986
... And when he's not
heart is with him ...
Ray just came home after
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,
July 25, 1986
Cold, soggy morning. I
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
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
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
"In suspense" again.
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.
July 30, 1986
A little better.
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
has been. I've aged forty years in three and a half weeks.
Our conversation last
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
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
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
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
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 ...
August 1, 1986
This is it - this is
bottom. I am so fucking depressed, I can't even MOVE.
The goddamned in-laws
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
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
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.
August 5, 1986
God. I NEED TO WRITE. If
sit down and write something soon, I really am going to explode.
Jamie keeps drawing me
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
ever in my whole life felt this bad.
I want to back up a
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
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
Tony got here at 7:00,
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
Tony had done an
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
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
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
Judy told me that Peg
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
Yesterday I sent an
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,
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
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
(today he and some other guy are working on the gutters). Another day
of ear-splitting noise and unbearable 90º heat. Another day
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
Bev & Henry got to town a couple of days ago -- they'll be
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
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.
Nothing today has turned
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
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.
By the way - I did end
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,
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
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.
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
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:
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."
August 9, 1986
Horribly confused. I
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
On the other hand, the
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
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,
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
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 ...
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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 ...
"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
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
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 &
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
I've been happy with the
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
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.
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? ...
the expense of your family??
(Voice "A" is proving to
real pain in the butt. Gotta take a lunch break. Back in awhile.)
Already unbearably hot.
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
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
- substance abuse, weakness, irresponsibility,
- 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
course he'll hate you. You are the scum of the earth.
he'll get over it.
August 10, 1986
I will continue this
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
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
other biggie: FEAR.
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.
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
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
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
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.
morning 9:30 a.m.
August 12, 1986
Ten million small
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
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
Ray said something
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
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.
August 14, 1986
Much to tell. Wheels are
definitely beginning to turn ... very slowly ... but they're turning.
My interview with DSHS,
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
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 ...
Sunday August 17, 1986
"The last" everything --
@ in-laws, summer barbecue in carport, wave of sick disappointment when
he arrives home alone
"Throwing It All Away" -
"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
August 19, 1986
I experienced a virtual
smorgasbord of negative feelings last night. Here is a sampling:
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!!!
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
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
Good grief. Most of this
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
Last weekend Tony was
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
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
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
sounds great. You
betcha. I went to bed feeling like a complete idiot. I
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
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
Sunday morning he tore
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
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
Wednesday 11 a.m.
August 20, 1986
Very nervous. My DSHS
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
sure use a hug.
Wish me luck.
I think I need to see
The summer is beginning
August 22, 1986
I was too depressed to
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
My interview on
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ray's mother had to buy
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 ...
August 23, 1986
I mailed the stuff
watched the mailman pull up to our box and retrieve the envelope and
drive away with it, and I thought to myself, That's
I'm doing some serious
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
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
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
up. I'm going to bed.
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
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
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
Mom's stepsister Joan
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
Bev and Henry go home to
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
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,
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
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?"
August 27, 1986
Amusing exchange with
Tony: "Can I use this?"
up porcelain coffee cup)
Terri: "You can use anything you want to around here."
Tony: "... ANYTHING? ..."
Terri: "Freudian slip."
August 28, 1986
I don't know what to do.
know what to do. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!
Remember my dream from a
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
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
August 30, 1986
Well ... "deciding" is
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
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
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
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
This is what annoys me
me the most is how
easy it is for them to just yank away our home.
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
The worst part of all is
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
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
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.
They've only been here
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 ...
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 -
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
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
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
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
she told my father-in-law, "My mom's gonna run away!"
Monday, Labor Day
September 1, 1986
Finally ... some good
report. God knows I could use some. Linda stopped by at noon today with
some papers DSHS sent me ... my financial
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
So is Linda. She said, "You're over the hump!" I replied, "Well ... I
think I'm in the middle
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
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
September 3, 1986
Wednesday 6 a.m. (can't sleep)
I may have found an
for the kids and I! It's too soon to get excited about it -
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)
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.
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.
Life is what happens to
you've made other plans ...
I've been so up and down
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
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
to do is sit and wait.
The house is a complete
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
THE HELL ARE THE KIDS & I GOING TO LIVE????? The uncertainty of
situation - the unanswered questions - are so frightening.
September 12, 1986
A full week has passed
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
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
... a depressing little rat-hole down by 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
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
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
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
(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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
evening 6 p.m.
Sept. 17, 1986
Kyle loves his walker!
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
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.
My sleepy son has gone
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
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
(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
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
And yet - in spite of
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 ...
September 18, 1986
Stomach ache. Period is
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.
reading for awhile)
Well. This journal is
more entertaining than any others I've kept recently. The past four
months have been unbelievably eventful.
Rainy and cold. Jamie,
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Jamie got sick with a
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.
September 23, 1986
Heavy rain. This is the
official day of autumn. My cold has settled into my chest today.
September 24, 1986
My heart is heavy today.
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:
L.V.P. LIVED HERE, OCTOBER 1980 TO OCTOBER 1986. SHE LAUGHED AND CRIED,
WASHED AND DUSTED, DREAMED AND FOUGHT, CREATED AND LOVED HERE. HER
MARRIAGE BEGAN AND ENDED HERE. HER THREE CHILDREN WERE CONCEIVED HERE,
AND THIS IS THE HOME TO WHICH SHE BROUGHT THEM AFTER THEY WERE BORN. IN
THE SPRING SHE LOVED THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS; IN THE FALL SHE LOVED THE BIG
TREE ACROSS THE STREET. THIS HOUSE HOLDS PRECIOUS MEMORIES; PLEASE
TREAT IT WITH LOVE."
Ray has taken the girls
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
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
going to be the priority again. This is probably to make up for the
fact that I'm leaving for purely selfish reasons.)
September 26, 1986
comes back on tonight - whoopee!!! With the
"resurrected" Bobby Ewing ...??)
One item of good news,
ominous new development.
First, the good news:
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.
The bad news (as usual)
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.
October 3, 1986
Well ... here it is. The
an era. Tomorrow the kids and I leave this house forever. I am engulfed
Yesterday I drove down
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
We got to see the new
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
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
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.
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
Goodbye, little house.
been a place of love and comfort and hope. I will miss you - and I will
NEVER forget you.
My beloved 'Kirkland
Tony was just here for a
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 ...
October 24, 1986
I had "The Moving Dream"
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
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
three week silence in such a despairing frame of mind ...
Three weeks have passed
last entry, and I am alive and well and living on welfare in Seattle,
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
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
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
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
But beyond just like 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
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
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.
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
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"
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
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
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
Kyle and Courtney
Just as I was hasty in
judgment of the apartment itself, I also misjudged the neighborhood. I
said it was "sad, shabby, broken down" .... I was worried
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
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 new apartment with no trouble at all
Jamie does miss Ray.
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
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
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
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
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
I realize now that my
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
October 29, 1986
Rainy afternoon. The
beginning to feel the tiniest bit like "home" ...
"The place is
beginning to feel the tiniest bit like 'home' ... "
October 31, 1986
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
stretching quite as far as I would like are the food stamps ... )
Busy day ahead. Kyle,
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
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
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
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.
girls at Grandma's house
Kyle's first Halloween!
three of The Tots in their Halloween finery
November 2, 1986
He followed through,
-- I'll admit it -- I was surprised. Friday
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
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
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.
November 6, 1986
Bits and Pieces:
* Kyle has begun pulling
around the apartment by his arms, like a little salamander: he'll be
crawling in another week.
* His sleeping problems
leveling off a bit ... knock wood. He was up only once last night and
the night before.
* I get a phone
new number is 242-6623.
* My friendship with
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
too ... Kelli in -16, Dawn in B-3. It feels so darned good to have
"women friends" again!!
* Library books I am
(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"
Wednesday 8 a.m.
November 12, 1986
There is no time for
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
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:
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.
No, not THAT Tony! I mean the little five yr. old
"Little Tony" -- who I somehow got roped into
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.
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
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?
a blanket apology to all of my appalled readers ... ?
One and All, Reading
This Journal Someday:
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
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
I'm ending this journal
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
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,
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,
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
So. That takes care of
grapes, I guess. I don't want to spend one further moment of my life
thinking or writing about it. Chapter closed forever.
to throw a rock?