Friday, April 2, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Money was tight on my eighth birthday. The day of my birthday, Mom told me that she didn’t have any money to buy me presents. Could I be a big girl and wait until Wednesday when she got paid? I said okay, then started crying. I shouldn’t have cried, I mean, it wasn’t a big deal in the large scheme of things, but I did. I was a kid. And to a kid, birthdays are a big deal. To this day, I still feel bad about crying. I know that must have broken her heart.
Dad shot Mom a look, Mom yelled at me for crying and making her feel bad, then Dad took me and left. We went to the gas station where my aunt worked. My other aunt was there, too. They gave me presents. Then Dad took me to HER house where SHE gave me a Hawaiian Barbie. I thought that was pretty freaking awesome. Barbies were my favorite things, and Hawaiian Barbie was the most coveted Barbie at the time. All my friends had her and finally now I did, too. She came complete with a grass skirt and bikini top. I played with my new Barbie in the living room while Dad and HER talked in the kitchen.
I had to pee really bad, but didn’t know where the bathroom was so I went in the kitchen. SHE was sitting on the counter and Dad was kissing HER. I cleared my throat and asked where the bathroom was. I remember sitting there on the toilet, my legs dangling a foot off the ground, thinking about the situation and wondering what I should do. Should I run away? I should have said, “Where’s the door?” and run away. Why is Dad doing that? What about Mom?
I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding that event. I don’t remember before the affair. I don’t know why or how it happened. I just know that from the appearance of it at that moment, that it was wasn’t the first time they’d kissed. After I finished in the bathroom, I went back into the living room. Later Dad put me in HER bed and shut the door. I laid there in my uncomfortable high-waisted jeans and T-shirt, listening to the creaking of the house, the people banging on the floor in the apartment above, and the sounds of my dad kissing someone who was not my mom.
“I’m just trying to kiss you,” I heard HER say.
I laid there for a long time, trying not to hear the smacking of their lips and fall asleep. I watched hours pass as the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock slowly changed.
I wish I could remember how things happened. Why did Dad cheat? How did they meet? There’s no excuse for cheating, but did Mom drive him to it? That’s what he said, anyway. I believe there is no excuse for cheating, personally.
I later overheard Mom recounting the confrontation over the phone. “I walked in there and there they were. She said, ‘Oh my God!’ and I said, ‘No, God had nothing to do with this.’” I don’t remember how Mom found out. I can’t remember if I said something. I do remember that she was very angry with me for not saying anything to her after my birthday. I was eight years old! What was I supposed to say? I should have said something, yes, but I didn’t know how. I told a girl at school the next day. Why couldn’t I have told Mom?
Part of me thinks that she holds that against me, that I didn't tell. Not too long after that they separated for a while. Mom told me that me and my fucking father could just go to hell. And for some reason, that memory, the one where she told me to go to hell, is one of the most vivid memories I have. Well, that and the other time when she told me that she never says anything unless she means it. Mom tells me that the only reason she went back to Dad was because of me. When I was a kid, I went through times where I believed it and times where I didn't.
Now let's jump forward to 2005. One day I wrote in my journal the alarm I expressed at the fact that my dad came home in the middle of the day, took a shower, shaved, then headed back out. He told me he had to go see about a job. I found the whole thing suspicious, but didn't even dare to voice my real suspicion in my journal.
I flipped through the journal a few pages. A week later, that was when I found the dating site in the computer's internet history. It was one of those hot, local singles type of websites. My dad is not and never has been a computer savvy guy. In my journal I wrote that he typed the URL directly into the search box instead of searching for generic porn terms such as titties and ass.
I panicked. The reason I checked the history was because I had been blogging back then and didn't want Mom to discover my blog, so I always deleted the history and the cookies. What was I supposed to do with that information? And by that time, going from what I read in my journal, I had already forgotten about the shower/shave incident.
I ended up deleting his trail. But a week or so later I told Mom. I don't know if I did the right thing. I don't know if I did the wrong thing. I just remember that it was a thing that totally sucked and I wished I hadn't been confronted with.
Looking back now, I see the completed puzzle. I had the suspicions. I had the pieces. But living there everyday made me blind to the bigger picture. Now I see it, and it certainly isn't a pretty one.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
The reason I brought up The Wedding yesterday is because The Wedding is one of my sorest spots. The day that was supposed to be the happiest of my life ended up being one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters I’d ever ridden. I was happy to be marrying the man of my dreams, my knight without the shining armor, my soulmate, my best friend. At the same time I was sad because both my family and his family, each with their own stupid reasons that I suppose made sense to them but absolutely none to us, refused to be a part. With the sadness came anger, bitterness and resentment. These are feelings I still haven’t been able to kick to the curb, even after two years have gone by.
I’ll have to tell you about the proposal sometime. His proposal to me was wonderful, romantic and dream-like. Our proposal to our parents… well, there was no wonderful anything – at least not the good kind of wonder. We were only full of wondering if we would survive the five hours in hell on my parents’ couch and the 15 minutes of pseudo-happy sighs and hand clapping from his crazy mother who had herself convinced that she was a much better mother than mine because she gave us $100 to "help out".
The week before the date, Mom stormed into my bedroom (I was a good little virgin Baptist who lived at home until I married) and asked me just when the fuck I planned to get my shit out. I started immediately. I called work and told them I’d be late, then spent the afternoon throwing my shit into trash bags, loading it into my teensy little sedan and carrying it up to the second floor studio apartment I would soon share with my husband. I had hoped that maybe my dad would help me move out since he had a big ass truck and since he is a rather strong fellow. That's why I waited, I guess.
When Dad got home and saw me furiously throwing all my worldly trash and treasures into bags, he gave me an almost sympathetic look then went outside to fix his truck for the bazillionth time that horrible week.
I went outside and I announced my plan. “I’m going to stay at the Holiday Inn until we get married. I can’t take this anymore.”
“Don’t do that,” he said as he kicked the tires of his truck and avoided eye contact. “You know how she gets--”
“I can’t take it anymore.”
“It’s just a week. It’d be stupid to drain your savings. You might need that money later.”
“Fine. I'll stay.” I got in my car and headed to the apartment with another load.
I kept one set of sheets and one blanket in my bedroom. Every morning I dug the day's outfit out of a backpack and stuffed the dirty clothes in a grocery sack to wash at the laundromat after the wedding.
Since we had to leave super late/early in the morning to head to Tennessee on Friday/Saturday, I hugged my dad and siblings and left my parents’ house for good on Friday morning. I hung out at the apartment crying and unpacking my stuff while my fiancé worked.
At about 2 p.m. that afternoon, my cell phone rang. My heart dropped when I saw it was Mom. The speech I had been planning on giving her, the one I had been rehearsing out loud in the apartment all day, disappeared from my mind as I slunk down against the wall in the bathroom, the only area large enough for a person to sit in the entire apartment since my stuff had invaded the tiny space.
She was in the big city with my siblings, pulled over on the side of the road, waiting out a tornado watch, she said. I could hear the wind wailing in the background, but no sound came from the mouths of my siblings – which if you have kids or much younger siblings, you know that is highly unusual.
“I’m sorry that we can’t come,” she said.
“I have money,” I offered for the bazillionth time. “I can run it over to Dad. It’s enough for gas, food and a hotel for a couple nights.”
“I can’t take your money. You need that to start out your marriage. I just wish that you had given us more notice. Or got married in town.”
I almost started to feel bad. Actually, I did feel bad. Even though I knew that even if we had held the ceremony in their back yard she would have found a reason not to attend – just like she found a reason to not be home the day she was supposed to meet my boyfriend. We chose Gatlinburg because it was lovely, it was romantic, it was cheap – honeymoon included. We chose it because we knew we couldn’t afford a huge reception and because even if we did have a huge reception no one would have come except for my aunt and a handful of friends. And three months' notice certainly wasn't much.
But that phone call, that one where she almost kind of said she was sorry, made me incredibly remorseful. I did everything wrong. I should have involved my parents in our relationship. I should have tried harder to talk to them about the relationship I was in. I should have been a better daughter. I should have asked Mom if she wanted to go dress shopping with me (even after she told me she wanted nothing to do with it).
“It just really hurt that you didn’t want to involve me in any of it,” she said. “Do you know how terrible that is to know that you can’t help your daughter pick out her wedding dress? Do you know what that feels like?”
Well, actually, no, but I can imagine. I know what it feels like to know that my mom doesn’t want to be involved in my wedding or my life at all.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day crying and feeling bad about getting married. So many times throughout that day I was tempted to just give in like I had with everything else in my life. I could just give in, go home and be a good daughter, doing what she wanted me to do, for the rest of my life. Cats are nice companions.
“I’m sorry that it had to be like this,” she said in closing.
But it didn’t have to be like that, did it?