August 4, 2000
Love Means Never Having To Say
"Honey I Threw Your Suitcase Off The Balcony."


Daughter #1 called me in hysterics yesterday afternoon, about an hour before she was due to get on the airplane in TicTac. It was like listening to a 33-rpm being played at triple speed: all I got, the first time through, were the words "Schmidty," "suitcases" and "balcony."

"You're going to have to slow down, honey," I said to her as calmly as I could, heart in my throat. "I can't understand a word you're saying."

"It's Schmiiiiiiidty," she wailed. "He's throwing my suitcases off the balcony!"

In the background, I could hear The Boyfriend ranting and raving, and doors slamming, and Samsonite crashing onto pavement. It sounded like World War III was breaking out in that little apartment.

"Put him on the phone," I commanded. I had no clue what I was going to say to him this time.

Hiya Schmidty! How's it hangin'?

March your boney ass outside and pick up her suitcases, Dogmeat, before I call the cops!

What kind of stoopid name is 'Schmidty,' anyway?

But the point was moot: he refused to come to the phone. "Fudk your mom!" I could hear him snarling at Jaymi. "I'm not talkin' to HER!"

That does it. The kid is officially off my Christmas card list.

In the three months since Schmidty became an unofficial *member of the family* when he and Daughter #1 set up housekeeping together last May, it has been one firestorm after another. Schmidty gets drunk. Schmidty picks a fight. Schmidty dumps a pitcher of raspberry iced tea over her head. Schmidty throws all of her worldly belongings into three cardboard boxes and orders her to leave. Schmidty calls the next day, hungover and contrite, and begs her to come back.

Schmidty promises to drive her to the airport, changes his mind at the last minute, and then blows a gasket when she calls someone else to give her a ride. Next thing we know: suitcases are flying.

He says he does all of this dumb dysfunctional stuff, of course, because he "loves" her.

Yo. SCHMIDTY.  I've got news for you.

When you "love" somebody ... you don't treat her like you hate her.

You don't hijack her bank card and hold her graduation money for ransom. You don't rip up her brand-new high school yearbook. You don't call her names. You don't threaten to microwave her cat while she's gone. You don't skip the really important occasions in her life, like her high school graduation. You don't throw a big drunken party while she's away on her Senior Trip. You don't spit on her, or snap her brand-new candles in half, or write death threats on the wall with French's mustard. You don't promise to do stuff for her ... like give her a ride to the airport ... and then fail to deliver simply because you "don't feel like it."

And you don't throw her suitcases off a second-story balcony one hour before she is scheduled to fly to California to visit her mom.

This is stuff you don't do to somebody you "love," Schmidty. OK? You just don't. And the very fact that I have to explain this to you proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that not only are you NOT ready for a relationship ... you're not even ready for co-ed volleyball.

Mind you: I don't hate the guy. I certainly remember what it's like to be young and dumb and filled with throbbing hormones. (Who am I kidding? I remember what it's like to be FORTY and dumb and filled with throbbing hormones.)

And of course if anybody understands behaving in a dysfunctional fashion whilst under the influence of lots and lots of alcohol ... it's me.

And I'm not absolving Daughter #1 of responsibility here. She keeps going back to him.  This is something we'll be talking about a lot in the next few days. I am only recently beginning to understand the dynamics of co-dependent relationships ... in spite of having lived in one (or another) for most of my life. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to help her figure this stuff out ... but it's going to involve a BIG learning curve for both of us.

But you know what? Today -- for a little while, anyway -- none of that stuff matters. Because she's here now.

She landed safely last night at 10 p.m. (thanks to our wonderful Guardian Angel, Jason, who got her to the airport with time to spare) ... looking a little worn but otherwise none the worse for the wear. Now we have seven long, lovely days to bond, and to putter around the Bay Area, and to eat Asiago cheese on Fritos ...

... and to have long long conversations all about the nature of relationships, and about learning from our mistakes (and not repeating them over and over again for the next twenty-two years), and about how it's never too late -- or too early -- to change the direction of our lives ...

... and how best to get her (and her suitcases) out of that relationship and through the next ninety-something years in one piece.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

P.S. A couple of things, quickly, before I *vamoose* for the weekend.

Thing #1:  I am humbled, and surprised, and validated beyond belief to be included in the list of nominees for the Diarist Awards, this time around. As I wrote to a new friend the other day, it has become increasingly important to me -- the further I get into my recovery -- to acknowledge the good things that come my way. David likes to remind me of the time a couple of years back when I said "I'm afraid that I won't be able to write if I don't drink." The very fact that I not only can write -- but that I am writing things that people enjoy reading -- is like an unbelievable gift. And this nomination is like a gift on top of a gift. Thank you.  

Thing #2: I now officially owe e-mail to everybody on the planet. I suck. Forgive me.

throw a rock