Monday, December 29, 2008

not so melodramatic after all

My horoscope says that I should trust my intuition. That it's like a muscle, and the more I exercise it, the stronger it will be.

I suspect that Punk has been seeing his ex - or discussing seeing her, or whatever - most if not all of the entire time we were dating.

It's disheartening to the point of permanent insecurity to feel like something that felt right to you was doomed from the start for the other person...and that you completely manufactured a connection that simply didn't exist at all.

Not to say that I think Punk was my soul mate or anything so melodramatic - just that there was an opportunity for something awesome and it really never had a chance because he was hung up on his ex...and my fabulous intuition gave me no clues at all. Or, maybe it did and I just didn't pay attention.

I haven't gone to see Dr. Funnybones about this yet. My last appointment was before my birthday. I also stopped taking my pills for awhile which was really not a sound decision. I plan to call the good doc sometime after the new year and make another appointment. And I have refilled my prescription of happy pills, so I think I am on the right track.

Christmas, quite simply, would have sucked were it not for Roo, Superman and Band Geek. I went to their family's for Christmas day dinner. This was fortunate for me because I think had I been alone on Christmas Day with my forlorn little plastic tree and empty stockings that I might have either drunk myself into a stupor and found myself the day after cold and shivering underneath the kitchen table, or I just would have called it quits and spent the worst Christmas ever hiding out underneath the blankets and refusing to come out at all.

Having roommates will be good for me, I think.

There is so much about Punk that I don't miss. How he was SO resistant to public affection, and hated a lot of my little quirks. He rarely got up before one in the afternoon, didn't have a regular job, didn't have a reliable car, and oh yeah - cheated on me early in the relationship. Not counting whatever he was doing with his ex.

Obviously such a stellar and sound relationship deserves to be mourned with all the grief and hair pulling I can muster on this rainy Pacific Northwestern day, but I can't seem to quite summon up the requisite melodrama. Other than the physical fact of his presence, and the emotional lie of his commitment to me, there wasn't much I got from him at all.

Band Geek grabs my hand while he's sleeping. That's enough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

rambling snowthoughts

I have three blogfriends! So exciting.

So Punk came and got his stuff yesterday. I told him I didn't want to be in the house when he came and he said I was being a petty 5 year old. Which I think is dumb because a) I may be five but I'm not petty, and b) why on earth would I want to sit in the house and watch him haul out the last vestiges of our relationship together? I mean, really.

I hear from friends that he's getting back together with his ex, and that she "feels really bad" and like she's a "homewrecker".

Please.

I hope she feels bad. I hope they BOTH feel bad. I hope they have sex and his penis falls off. Seriously.

Yes, I'm bitter.

I'm bitter because I feel like I wasn't important. Like I didn't even make a difference in his life, when he made such a difference in mine. I'm bitter because he's telling all our friends how bad SHE feels, when she's the one who won, so what the hell does she have to feel bad about? Spare me.

The Kid said "fuck" the other day. I think by the time I was done ripping him a brand new asshole, he pretty much decided that next time that would be a bad idea.

He did, however, give a homeless guy $2 the other day. As we drove away he told me, "Mom, even though I love money, I love helping people more."

Awwwwwww.

I am getting two new roommates in February: SuperMan and Roo. The problem is that PVDD still has stuff here from when he moved out last January, including one stationary pickup truck taking up room in my driveway. Fortunately, the two new roomies are the perfect reason to tell him to come and get his stuff FOR REAL this time. I spoke to him yesterday and forcefully impressed upon him that the stuff needs to be gone by mid January. I'm really hoping that it will because I'd hate to get nasty, I am trying to keep things cool since we're still friends. But jeez, I am not a freaking storage unit for all my ex boyfriends.

In happier news, I kinda met someone. Angry Little Band Geek is a guy I've known for a while, and I had a crush on him sorta (well a lot) when Punk and I were dating. Just so happens, when Punk dumped me on my ass, it seemed a perfect opportunity to check out the situation there. Turns out, the feeling is reciprocated.

Being that I'm so bitter at the moment, it's slow going but I anticipate that before long I'll have a good thing going there. We'll see.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

where i've been: part one

As I mentioned in an earlier post that probably got lost amidst all the old myspaz blogs that I copied over, I started a new blog here. This works well because I really only used Myspaz for blogging and this here site supports that quite well. Hopefully at some point I will have some blogfriends, but if not, that's okay because really for me it's just about getting things out of my head and into internet land where hopefully it will float around for a while and then die a quiet, peaceful death.

Moving on to today's angst...

My son was in the hospital a few weeks ago with appendicitis. GoodMan (who needs a new name, by the way) and I were sitting with him when the doctor came in to see how he was doing. He was in a fair amount of pain, and the doctor asked him where it hurt.

"My APPENDIIIIIIIIX!" He cried.

That's how I feel right now.

I hurt, but I don't know specifically where. He had no idea where his appendix was but he knew it hurt. I know my heart hurts but I don't know yet exactly how much. Or even what hurts the most.

Earlier this year I broke up with PVDD (my boyfriend of almost two years). Soon after that, I fell in love with someone else. All the nicknames that come to mind at the moment are mean, and I don't feel like being mean, I just feel like feeling better, so I will simply call him Punk.

Punk is young, five years younger. It stands to reason that a young guy isn't going to be interested so much in starting a serious relationship with an older woman who likes country music, has a kid, and doesn't even have a mohawk, but I guess I kind of thought that we had something.

The worst thing, I think, is feeling like the world's biggest idiot.

After spending so much effort telling him how much I appreciate him, and how much I love him, and how happy I am, and thinking that he felt the same way...to find out that he doesn't was a bit of a let-down, to say the least. Especially to find it out so suddenly. One minute I'm just waking up from a nap and lighting a cigarette, and the next minute it feels like my guts have been yanked out, twisted, and put back in backwards, and the Dog has come along and taken a nice big poop on my heart.

That's how it felt. More or less.

I have been searching my feelings to see whether it's him or just the idea of him that I miss. Or am hurting over. Or whatever. I still don't know.

I left the house after he told me that he didn't feel the same way I do and he doesn't love me anymore. I drove down the street, parked, and called 1N and Pocket, who put me on speaker so they could both give me some peptalk. I don't think I was making much sense, probably sounded mostly like Ron Burgundy in the phone booth after Jack Black punted Baxter off the bridge, but I needed to talk to someone.

Seriously, it felt like my life was ending. Which really is not a fun experience when you're only 32 and are having angst over a 26 year old that can't appreciate a good thing when it's staring him in the face.

So what do you do when this happens? It's been long enough that I can't remember.

1N and Pocket are encouraging me to spend time alone and rediscover who I am. I know that's necessary. It's hard though. I usually don't mind being alone...I'll take myself out to movies, to dinner, to coffee, to the park...I don't mind it. I just prefer to have someone I could take with me if I want. I want the intimacy. The comfort of feeling like you're facing the world not by yourself, but with someone else that's standing with you and ready to take on anything...with you.

I do tend to get into relationships too quickly. It's a problem. I suspect it has something to do with some deep seated insecurity or need for male approval. I'm sure if I was Freud I would have something to say about father-daughter-abandonment issues, but I'm not so we'll just pretend that what it comes down to is that I like having someone to love. And someone to love me back. And I hurt when I lose that.

Pretty simple, I guess. Wish it was that simple to fix.

100 Miles: Volume Twenty-Two (goodbye, darling)

They were just words. Words. Letters strung together into words joined up to make paragraphs that said "I don't want you anymore."

Words built up over weeks, months...words she couldn't say, only write. And rewrite and perfect and recompose until the arrangement of words on the paper said what she had needed to say but couldn't find the courage to speak.

He'd thought they were going out for a nice romantic dinner. He'd thought that things were getting better, that they would heal, in time, that the two of them could repair the damage that distance and worry and children had cost them. She handed him the letter and bit her lip as his expression of hopeful expectation fell into puzzlement, then disbelief, then finally tears. His expression, his face, his eyes were killing her.

For a wild moment she thought of taking the papers out of his hands and ripping them into a million tiny pieces and throwing them into the air, like some sort of crazy confetti, taking his hands and laughing this off, stopping this ball that had already started rolling months before. But her hands froze at her sides, and the words stuck in her throat, and so she said nothing as he looked at her, then away.

How does one document the demise of a relationship? Or more accurately, the killing of a relationship with words, written on paper and etched indelibly into the heart of the reader. Even the tearing up of the letter into tiny bits wouldn't erase the tears that tracked down his face, or the leaden lump the size of a baseball that had taken up residence in her chest.

He walked a short distance away, saying nothing. She stared at his back, his shoulders bowed, hands thrust deeply into his pockets. She remembered their wedding day, so full of promise and hope. She remembered how it seemed to fall apart, little by little, argument by silent argument, sharp words, little acts of inconsideration that piled up into this mess she was standing in this very minute.

What to say that had not already been said in that letter? She searched for something, some way to break the silence that had descended between the two of them. She felt suffocated by it.

"Did...did you want to, you know, talk about it? Do you have anything to say?" She ventured the question past the constriction in her throat. She wondered if he heard her, he made no move to turn around. Briefly, she imagined him suddenly taking her in his arms, whispering passionate declarations of how he couldn't live without her, and he wasn't going to let her go without a fight...something, anything to indicate that he wanted to do something about what she had said to him in her letter.

He sighed, and shook his head.

"Did you cheat on me?" He still hadn't turned to her.

"No," she answered him clearly. "No, I did not."

"It wouldn't matter if you did, you know." He still wasn't looking at her, but he turned and leaned his back against the side of the truck, letting his head fall back against the cold metal. "It wouldn't matter."

"It wouldn't matter? What do you mean? Do you just care that little about me?" She demanded softly, her heart twisting.

He rolled his head to the left until his eyes met hers. "No," he said. "No, I mean I loved you enough that it wouldn't matter to me if you had."

She squeezed her eyes shut as tightly as she could, standing there with her arms hanging at her sides, she could feel the hot tears forming. Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry, she commanded herself fiercely. She balled her hands into fists and wished that he would just come to her, enfold her in his arms and tell her that no matter what their problems were, they could work it out. She wanted to hear his voice in her ear, his lips in her hair, feel safe again in his arms.

But he just stood there, silent. It was a representation of the differences between them, between what they each needed that the other wasn't able to give. A simple change in behavior wouldn't fix anything at this point...it was as if they would need to become two different people.

Despite herself, she felt one tear, then another, slide out from under her lids. She turned away and pressed her palms to her mouth. She opened her eyes, wide, as wide as they would go and just let the tears flow. Her shoulders shook silently as she muffled a sob in her hands and looked up at the sky, black and brilliant with stars.

Behind her, he pushed away from the vehicle and walked around to the driver's side door, opened it, and climbed in. He set his hands on the wheel and stared blindly out the windshield at the desolate parking lot where his life was ending. He knew what she wanted. He knew she wanted passion and impetuousness and words spoken from his heart, tender words that would melt her and make her stay...she wanted heat. Fire. He couldn't. He just couldn't. He tried pretending and it just felt false to him...like he was pretending to be someone he was not.

Her fire frightened him sometimes. He pulled away from her often, too often, for fear of getting burned. He knew she interpreted that as distancing himself from her, but he had no idea how else to deal with it. He knew that it was causing bigger and wider rifts between them and it seemed he was helpless to do anything about it.

He sighed and gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white on the black leather. He leaned his head forward until it rested between his fists. There, hidden from her eyes, he let his tears fall freely onto his knees, knowing that the gap between them was just too wide for him to hope to bridge.

He heard rather than saw the passenger door open, and turned his head to the side. She stood there, silent, her face shadowed but her wavy blonde hair lit into brilliance by the street lights overhead. She paused, one hand on the door, one on the back of the seat across from him. He knew it would be easy to reach out, take her hand, convince her that they could fix this, they could make it work, if only...if only...

If only they were two completely different people.

She unlocked the doors and spoke into the silence.

"Just let me say goodbye. And please, call me if you'd like to talk. About...about, you know, anything."

He said nothing, just stared at her.

She waited a moment more, for a word, a movement, anything, and got nothing.

She opened the rear passenger door, where her son, her baby, was sleeping peacefully in his cushioned car seat. His head was pillowed softly on his palm, his little rosebud lips parted, as they did after he had fallen asleep with his pacifier which subsequently fell out.

She gazed at him and almost stopped breathing. What was she doing? How could this be happening? Stop! She felt like screaming. Can't you just once, just once give me what I need? Can't you show me a little of this love you claim to have for me? Please?

She closed her eyes briefly and tried to breathe over the tightness in her throat. Reaching out slowly, she hesitantly brushed a wayward curl from off his forehead, gently tucking it back with the rest. His brilliant blue eyes were closed, his lashes that were longer than hers were resting softly on the swell of his cheeks, his breathing was soft and even, and he would wake up none the wiser that his mother had just torn his world in two.

He would grow up never knowing what it was like to wake up to both his parents on Christmas morning, to have both his parents wish him well on the evening of his prom, to watch them grow old together gracefully (or not so gracefully) and learn how to love, from them. He wouldn't know that.

She couldn't stop the tears this time, and didn't even try. She leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on his forehead, then his nose. She whispered softly into his ear, meaningless terms of endearment, meaningless words that were only meant to make his sleeping baby mind know that she had been here, that she was his mother, and she loved him, so, so much.

Quickly, before she totally lost it, she leaned back, gave his cheek one last brush with the back of her hand, and shut the doors. He had replanted his head on the steering wheel, not even looking up as the doors clicked softly shut. She gazed through the smoky glass at his silhouette, feeling as if he was a million miles away even though the truck hadn't moved an inch. She raised one hand and set it lightly on the glass, seeing him finally stir, put the key in the ignition, and fire up the engine. He finally turned his head enough to look at her, but she couldn't see his face. He kept his eyeless gaze on her while he threw the truck in gear, and she stepped back as the truck started to roll. It picked up speed and rolled away, away, away, red taillights saying a final farewell as she watched him drive away in the darkness.

With one hand to her heart and the other pressed to her mouth, she watched him go.

Goodbye, darling.

100 Miles: Volume Twenty-One

I remember screaming. Not so much in pain, but with effort. More physical effort than I had expended on anything, ever, in my entire life.

About an hour and a half after I officially started hard labor, the epidural ran out. Usually they try to figure out the dose so that it starts to run out just at the time when you need to feel your hips enough to know when to bear down. So this one ran out a little early. I could feel each contraction like I was being ripped apart from the inside.

I begged. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I begged those nurses and the doctor for drugs like I was some strung out hooker needing a fix. I think I probably promised them my baby if they would just make it stop, make it stop, do something to ease the pain.

They didn't want to, because it would mean that I wouldn't be able to tell when to push, but they ended up doing it.

When my vision cleared and I could actually think coherently again, I found myself squatting, with my arms hanging over a bar suspended over my bed, pushing as hard as I could. There were about ten people in the room, the doctor, the nurses, GoodMan, and me. They called me "Xena the Warrior Princess" because I was yelling so loudly. Apparently there was a woman in the next room that hadn't given birth yet and I was freaking her out.

They told me this. Like I give a fuck? I'm pushing a watermelon out of a part of my body meant for something else entirely, and you want me to worry about some woman in the next room who will probably have a sum total of twenty minutes of pushing before popping her kid out?

Get the fuck out of my face. And give me more drugs.

I finally couldn't do it anymore. I collapsed backward, my legs unable to support me any longer. The doctor was getting a little anxious, and the nurses were yammering in my ear, telling me I needed to get back up, I needed to keep pushing, keep trying, it was almost over. I couldn't. I couldn't do it. I tried to make my muscles obey and they just wouldn't.

The nurses hastily conferred with the doctor, and it was decided that there might be something preventing the baby from moving into the right position to be born. They brought in some contraption that was actually like a vacuum cleaner, with a suctioney thing on the end of it.

Apparently, not only were you turned over (sunny side up, as they say) but your forehead was being pushed against my pelvic bone every time I pushed, so you were going nowhere, and you needed to. Asap.

They used the little suction cup thingie, attached it to your head, and moved you down just enough so that when the next contraction came, whaddaya know? You moved right into position the way you were supposed to. With the next contraction, you were born.

I will never forget the feeling of you leaving my body. It was unbelievable. It was a relief, from both the pressure, and the pain, and the awful concern about why you weren't born yet. I felt you slide out into the doctor's hands and I swear, I almost cried from relief.

There was some sort of commotion right after you came out. I couldn't hear you, and the nurses took you and immediately whisked you over to a corner of the room where they all gathered around you. I couldn't hear them, and I couldn't hear you, and I had just barely enough strength to ask what was wrong, where were you, where was my baby?

GoodMan didn't know either, but he kept reassuring me and holding my hand and telling me what a good job I did. I felt so weak, it was incredible.

Suddenly the knot of people at the end of the room parted, and I heard your voice split the air for the first time, an indignant, drawn out howl that announced to everyone in the room (and in the waiting room, maybe even the woman next door) that Xena The Warrior Princess's baby was HERE.

GoodMan left me to go take you. He was the first one to hold you close, stroke your little cheek, marvel at your little eyelashes and fingernails and toes. He kept a hold of the video recorder and recorded your first minutes in the world. I treasure it.

It transpired that the umbilical cord had wrapped itself around your neck twice. This is why the oxygen mask had been necessary, why they had to whisk you away so quickly. It also happened that I had torn so badly that they needed to sew me up before I lost too much blood, so I didn't even hold you until you were almost an hour old.

Even with my memory, it's no problem for me to remember that moment when they brought you over, wrapped up like a little burrito, pink and blue knit cap on your head, sound asleep, and laid you in my arms.

I was shaking, I was so scared, and awestruck, and so worried that I might drop you, or hold you wrong, or let your little head flop around or something equally devastating to your little hour-old body.

You were so small. So perfect. So beautiful. Your little fingers curled around mine when I stroked my finger down your arm and into your little palm. I brought you close to me and kissed you on your bruised little forehead, and you turned your face into me and made these little noises that meant you loved me. Or so I interpreted them. I didn't care what you were doing, I just couldn't stop watching you, staring at you, marveling that all this effort, all that pain and drama was like nothing. It had never even happened. It was all worth it just then, looking at you, seeing the beautiful son that GoodMan and I had made.

I still look at you and think that. Sometimes when you turn to me, sharing something that you're so excited about, that you just can't help but tell me all about it, your little face lights up like a Christmas tree, and your big blue eyes open even wider, and you're so earnest and so animated that my heart just catches and almost stops sometimes, with how much I love you. With the knowledge that I would do anything for you, go through anything, handle anything, do anything I need to do to keep you safe and protected. Anything at all.

I love you. I hope you always remember that.

100 Miles: Volume Twenty

I spent the first part of the evening walking and soaking in the whirlpool. About midnight, the contractions made me scream for the first time. I remember walking around the hospital room, leaning on GoodMan, when I felt a bad one starting. I grabbed his shoulders for support, my knees buckled, and everything kind of went hazy. When my vision cleared, I was screaming in his ear and he was yelling for help from the hospital staff.

I begged the nurses for drugs. Anything to stop the pain that was gripping my body for the minutes-that-seemed-like-hours that the contractions were lasting.

They couldn't do anything until I was dilated to at least 3 centimeters. I was at one and a half, then two, then two and a half. Then it seemed like everything stalled. For two hours, I didn't dilate at all, but the contractions seemed to be getting worse and worse. They gave me a mild pain medication that did nothing but soften the edges of the spasms.

Finally I fell asleep, my exhausted body just couldn't stay awake. I remember that the nurse told me that she would check my dilation at 3:00 AM, and if I wasn't dilated to where they could administer the epidural, that they would give me some morphine and send me home.

Fuck that, I mumbled at her. This baby is getting delivered today.

3:00 AM. I'm woken by the feeling of someone probing between my legs. It's a sign of how often I'd been checked out that this didn't even surprise me.

What did surprise me, was when I saw the nurse's expression of concentration break into a smile. "You're four centimeters," she told me. "We can give you the epidural."

Thank God.

The anesthesiologist was a big, red-haired, burly bear of a man. He turned my heavily pregnant body on its side effortlessly. He told me what was going to happen: that he was going to place a needle at the base of my spine with which to inject the medication that would numb me from the waist down. I needed to make sure that I didn't move, because there was the potential that I would be paralyzed if I did. Did I understand?

Hell, yes, just give me the goddamn drugs.

I felt the cold swipe of the swab on my skin. I felt the two-inch needle pierce me and sink in. I saw GoodMan's eyes squeeze shut - he couldn't stand needles.

I felt it punch through the cartilage in my spine, and I jerked. Every muscle in my body tightened and spazzed out at once, it seemed.

The entire room gasped at the same time, one collective sharply indrawn breath that screamed in my head.

Ohshitohshitohshitohshitshitshitshit.

"Oh my God, I messed it up, I moved oh my God oh my God, I'm sorry I'm sorry..." I couldn't even think, I was terrified.

The anesthesiologist stayed calm. He spoke in my ear, with his needle still buried in my back.

"2N, you need to calm down. You need to relax. I need you to relax. Don't move, just relax your muscles, okay? Just relax, that's it, just take a deep breath, calm down, that's it, that's it, relax..."

Finally I did. I don't know how. I just know that finally, I breathed. Finally, I felt the soothing numbness spread from the base of my spine, through my tortured hips and abdomen, and down through my legs.

With the anesthesiologist's voice still murmuring in my ear, I slept.

I woke up three hours later to being fitted with an oxygen mask. The nurse told me that your heartbeat was erratic, and they were concerned that you weren't getting enough oxygen. It crossed my mind to be concerned, but then the oxygen overload kicked in and I spent the next twenty minutes pretending that I was Darth Vader, telling you that "I am your moooooother".

Then I slept again.

I woke up to GoodMan telling me that my mother was in the waiting room and the nurses were telling him that the doctor was on his way. It was time to push this baby out.

100 Miles: Volume Nineteen

I was pretty calm for the trip into town, all things considered.

GoodMan needed to go in to work that day, and since my mom lived a few blocks from the hospital, it seemed a logical place to go to wait until the contractions were bad enough that I needed to go get admitted. I had no doubt that this would be the result of my unsubtle wakeup call that morning.

The day was mostly spent waiting out the spasms, reading, fielding my mom's solicitous questions, and just trying to relax. I was getting more and more nervous as the day wore on. GoodMan must have called at least five times that day, asking how I was, if I needed to go to the hospital, whether my mom was driving me crazy yet. Fine, no, yes.

At around 5 that evening, your dad called to say that some friends wanted to take him for a quick drink to celebrate his impending fatherhood. I don't know if he just didn't beleive me or what, because he wanted to go out with them. By this time, the contractions were coming about once every twenty minutes and getting more than a little uncomfortable, but I didn't want to limit his celebration time, so I agreed, but not before extracting his promise that he would be there to take me to the hospital when it was time. My mom kept offering to take me, but the simple fact was, I wanted my husband there, and no one else.

7:00. GoodMan called to let me know that immediately upon walking in the door to the bar, he was "impelled" to down an entire supersize margarita. Quarters is a bitch. He was now a little buzzed but still okay. Was I okay?

I'm a little irritated now. Yes, I was okay, but dammit, I wanted my husband. I was scared, and uncomfortable, and I wanted him there. Again, though, I didn't want to ruin his fun, so I said that for now I was okay but I'd like for him to start thinking about coming to get me.

8:00. He's now too drunk to drive. He needs a little bit of time to sober up, then he'll be home right away. The contractions are about fifteen minutes apart and I'm having to bite my lip to stop from howling every time they struck. My mom is getting more and more anxious, offering several times to drive me. I finally snapped at her.

"I am going to the hospital with my husband or I am having this goddammed baby right here on the living room floor. That's the deal."

8:45. GoodMan is finally ready to drive home. He arrives 15 minutes later smelling like a bottle of tequila. I am more than eager to get to the hospital so we piled into the car and off we went.

In the hospital parking lot, I could barely walk from the car to the doors. GoodMan was a wreck. He was trying to help me walk, then he abandoned me to run and get the door, then saw that I couldn't walk, then ran back, then the door closed, then he tried to help me and open the door at the same time...he was a bundle of nerves. If I wasn't gasping in pain and just wanting to cut my body in half at the rib cage, I would have found it hilarious.

Once we had finally navigated the tricky entrance, a hospital janitor-type saw our predicament and suggested to your dad that he find me a wheelchair.

I wanted to kiss the guy. I just don't think he wanted a kiss from a heavily pregnant, swearing and disheveled pregnant lady, or you bet your ass I would have.

We made it upstairs in one piece. Both of us. The nurses cast sidelong looks at your dad, who in his anxious state was hovering over me like a bee over a flower, completely oblivious to the smell of alcohol coming off him in waves. I was giggling hysterically by the time they wheeled me into the room that I would stay in for the next 36 hours. Where I would come out, a mom.

We didn't call any family or anyone. I have never understood the logic of allowing mother in laws or other visitors into the delivery room. I mean, I loved your grandma like nobody's business, but I still didn't feel like an up-close and personal view into my most private spots was anywhere near warranted. I didn't want my mom there, I didn't want my friends, I allowed GoodMan to have a video recorder but only up until, you know, the legs went up and the curtains got drawn. I didn't want spectators, I wanted participants. Just me, and your dad, and you, when you finally decided to grace us with your presence.

I'm glad we did it that way.

100 Miles: Volume Eighteen

Being pregnant was hard for me. I had some health issues, like high blood pressure, plus the weight I was gaining, and I developed something that the doctors thought was sciatica. Basically, you were sitting yourself right on top of a nerve that runs down my leg. If I stayed in one place too long, the nerve would fire. Several times it dropped me to the ground. A couple times I cried.

Once, when I was getting out of bed, I collapsed straight to the ground and couldn't get up. I crawled down the hall to where GoodMan could finally hear me crying for him. We called the hospital, and they made some suggestions, but I felt like my body was betraying me, like it wouldn't stay together long enough to make you born, make you alive. I started to have nightmares.

One morning, when I was about seven and a half months pregnant, as your father and I were leaving for work, I fell down the stairs from the house into the garage.

It's funny now, a pregnant lady on her back, feet in the air, heading down the stairs headfirst to smack into the concrete.

Not so fun at the time.

I had to go to the hospital because I started having contractions. At seven and a half months, you would have been very premature, but your chances of living would have been tolerable. I was so scared. My head and my back hurt from the fall, and your dad was freaking out, and we had a two hour drive to the hospital.

By the time we got there, I was kind of in a panic.

The doctors checked me out, reassured me somewhat, and hooked me up to an IV, through which they delivered some Tributalin to stop the contractions. They hooked me up to a machine that measured the contractions and spit out a piece of paper with a line on it that showed how hard they were. It looked like a measurement of an earthquake. It felt like an earthquake.

Finally, finally, the pains subsided. I stayed in the hospital a total of five hours. The doctors then advised me not to fall down any more stairs, and to get some rest.

I headed home. I slept.

Over the next several weeks, I panicked a little. I was half-convinced that I was going to lose you, that I wasn't a fit vessel to carry a baby, that I was going to do something to mess it up.

About the middle of October, I was put on bed rest by my doctor. I had edema so bad that a thumb pressed into my ankle, when removed would leave a visible imprint. I was retaining water like, well, a mother, and my blood pressure was through the roof. So I went on maternity leave early and stayed home until the morning of November 10.

That morning I woke up about 4:00 AM with a dull ache in my back. For women who haven't experienced a contraction before, it feels like a particularly bad but passing cramp. For men: it feels like someone is grabbing the base of your spine and squeezing, then relaxing. And sometimes viciously yanking it right the fuck out of your body.

It took me about an hour to determine what it was.

When GoodMan woke up, I had my bag packed and I was sitting on the edge of the bed. He looked at me questioningly.

"It's going to happen. Today." I said.

100 Miles: Volume Seventeen

GoodMan and I had set a date to be married on the Fourth of July. Isn't that the most ridiculously trite date ever? It was, and I loved it.

I decided that this time, I wouldn't try getting a white dress. Being five months pregnant, it was pretty obvious to me that I was not, indeed, a virgin any longer. Now, I sort of wish I would have, because I have a suspicion that the fairytale proposal, wedding, and...well, life...isn't exactly in my tarot cards.

I bought my dress at what was, then, The Bon Marche. I strolled over to the Women's section and looked around in dismay.

I'm definitely not the shopper that your aunt No N is. I needed to find something, asap! And somehow it had to be something that would make this ungainly, unwieldly body appear to be something delicate, and beautiful, and princessly.

I tried on at least ten dresses. The sales lady was extremely helpful (yeah right) and full of oh-so-patronizing suggestions. From the skinny toothpick to the fat pregnant lady: "Ma'am, perhaps you might want to go elsewhere. I don't think we have anything in your size."

Can you say, crushed?

It's one thing to look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Wow, I'm really not feeling happy about how I look," because secretly, you're hoping that you're your own worst critic and that people aren't looking at you in the same way you view yourself. It's an entirely different matter to have someone confirm it for you.

To feel like no matter what kind of person you are inside, the world (or at least some people in it) will still only view you as "the fat chick" or "the funny but overweight friend", if you're lucky. To realize that you're reduced to a number that corresponds to the size of dress you can squeeze your overlarge self into. To have some stick-thin saleswoman gaze earnestly into your eyes and suggest (not so delicately) that you're too fat to shop there. It's so easy for someone to strip away any pleasure you might feel in your strong, sturdy, healthy body, and make it into a prison, that you loathe some days when you can't heave yourself out of a chair without help.

Well, I did find a dress. A long, flowy, golden dress that hid most of my extra weight and made me feel, if not like a princess, at least like a woman. And I did it by myself, without her help, or her unneccessary opinions.

My grandmother made my bouquet. I made my headpiece, unfortunately. I thought it was beautiful at the time, but on reflection, I am of the opinion that I look like I have a pair of bulls horns perched atop my head. Not doing much for the attempt at the slimming effect, is it?

GoodMan and I were married in the backyard of our house in Keyport. A friend of ours from work, Joey, got his ministry online so that he could marry us. We had beautiful vows.

I was discussing defining moments with my friend the other day. About how sometimes, it seems that you might experience a defining moment and not even realize it until later, and you miss it. Because you're too worried about how you look, and whether everyone is having a good time, and if the dog is staying out of the flower beds, and wondering why on earth a donkey would be braying in the background in the midst of what should be the most important moment of your life. (Trust me, it happened.)

Did I miss my defining moment? I don't think so.

This was the moment in which I would be setting aside all the unwanted baggage and drama of PK, forever. This was the moment in which I would commit myself forever to the man standing next to me, sweaty palm to sweaty palm, who was crying with me at all the right parts, who almost messed up which finger to put the ring on, whose tears mingled with mine when he kissed my lips as instructed, to the applause and cheers of our closest friends and loved ones. With this man, who in the extremity of his emotion, picked me up, pregnant belly and all, and swung me around in a circle with my face pressed to the lapel of his jacket so hard that I left makeup stains on it.

This man, who tried so hard to love me, and in the end, though it wasn't enough, did turn out to be one of my most, and impressive, defining moments.

100 Miles: Volume Sixteen

So.

I was pregnant. It was April of 2001, and I was twenty-four. Unmarried, though in love. We owned a house, a car. Life seemed pretty good.

Pregnancy, for me, was uncomfortable from the beginning. I didn't get morning sickness, but I definitely got carsick. Discovered, much to my chagrin, several times on the way to our mutual place of employment.

It was a two hour drive.

I didn't always have fair warning.

'Nuff said.

We lived in Poulsbo and my doctor and work was in Seattle. That's a two-hour drive each way during rush hour. We drove it together, and we talked about everything. About what we would name you, what color to paint your room, whether you'd be a boy or a girl (we didn't want to know in advance). Your dad came home one time with the cutest little dress ever, with little pink bows and Winnie the Pooh all over it. Once I threatened to make you wear it (after you were born). You have your father to thank for the fact that I do not have, in my possession, a picture of you in a Winnie the Pooh dress.

It was really cute, though.

The other thing that was really hard for me about being pregnant was that I gained weight. A lot. Not just the normal 4-6 pounds per week. I'm talking, some serious weight. I felt so completely unattractive and ungainly. I could barely roll out of bed in the morning. I couldn't tie my shoes. I couldn't sleep on my stomach. I felt like a cow.

The doctor cautioned me that I was gaining too much weight. I started walking every day, riding my bike until I couldn't fit on it anymore, sometimes we'd even walk onto the ferry and walk to work from downtown Seattle.

I didn't handle it right. I stopped eating very much. I wasn't hungry very often. I didn't have the wierd cravings or midnight need for snacks. Your dad lucked out, really. Nothing was working though. I still kept gaining, and of course not eating right wasn't helping. My self esteem plummeted. I was convinced your dad would never want to touch me again. I was convinced that there had never been a pregnant woman as big and unwieldy as I was.

So I felt some resentment toward your dad. I felt that he should be the one to make me feel better. I felt that he should make me feel beautiful, and wanted, and loved, and cherished. Instead, I should have been relying on myself for that. It seems to me that any time you rely on someone else to make you feel good, you are inevitably going to be disappointed. Unless you feel good on your own, nothing anyone else says is going to make a difference.

I've heard women talk about how being pregnant made them feel fertile, radiant, and beautiful, but I didn't feel any of those things. I've heard men say that a pregnant woman is the most beautiful creature on the planet. I didn't feel that way either.

Until I felt you move.

I remember exactly the first time I ever felt you move inside me. I was getting off the ferry, in sitting in my white Ford Explorer, talking on the phone to your grandma. And you rolled.

Your little body, still only birth minus 5 months to go, decided that NOW was the time to let Mommy know you were there.

It happened twice before I figured out what it was. Next thing I know, I'm laughing and crying and trying to explain to my grandma that the best, most amazing, most special thing in the world just happened to me.

GoodMan and I, we'd created a life. And I actually felt it.

100 Miles: Volume Fifteen

Okay, back to the story.

Your father and I met at a point when I was still emotionally beat up from PK. My fire wasn't out, but it was definitely banked. Goodman was like a warm, fuzzy blanket that I could draw around me and lose myself in. He was like snuggling on the couch watching cartoons on a lazy Sunday morning. He was a calm, undisturbed, reservoir of peace, and I loved him for it.

Eventually, as all things do, the bruises delivered by PK to my body and my heart faded. They started scabbing over and falling away, and for a while I lost myself in loving your father.

Sometimes you find that there are things you need at a certain point in your life. And the veils you place over the bad things that happened to you, hide the things about the new relationship that aren't healthy or strong. When I began to recover, began to get back up from the knock-down, that fire lit back up again. I burned. And I ended up burning us out.

But we're not there yet.

Your dad and I were living in Poulsbo in a beautiful three bedroom home, on a rural tree-lined street with a beautiful yard. We camped, vacationed, worked together, loved together. It was the most peaceful time in my life. I did my best to immerse myself in domesticism, leaving all my melodrama behind me.

One day in April 2000, it occurred to me that I was late. Not late for work late, but late. Late like holy-crap-sick-feeling-in-my-stomach late. I bought a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy tests suck. It is almost inevitable that the woman will pee on herself while taking said test. Never fails. I think I must have stared at that little plus for five minutes before getting up, going into the bedroom, and sitting on the edge of the bed.

What would this mean? What would happen? Would GoodMan be excited? Scared? Pleased? Worried? Was I excited? I didn't know. I was scared, I know that. I was feeling like this was my chance to make right what had happened before. My chance to prove that I had grown up. My second chance to make a different choice.

I wondered if we were ready. We were both employed, but weren't making as much as I would think we would need to in order to support a family. We had bills, we had credit problems, we had just taken on a mortgage and a new car payment.

But the thing is, son, you're never prepared to have a baby. There's always one more aspect of your life that could be different, better, more stable. If you wait until everything is ready, you will never end up having a child. Because there is no way to prepare yourself for the financial and emotional responsibilities of having your first child. There's just no way. You think you know, you think you have to have a huge savings account, or investments, or the white picket fence and the dog in the back yard before you could possibly even consider having a baby.

In reality, son, all you need is yourself. Because when you see that little face looking up at you for the first time, you know, deep inside where your heart is, that there is nothing you wouldn't do to give this child everything he needs. You will go without, you will take a second job, you will do whatever it takes to make his world all that it should be.

GoodMan walked in while I was still contemplating what this meant to me and how I felt. He looked at me. I looked at him.

"I'm pregnant," I said.

"Huh?" he said.

We looked at each other some more.

A grin started to grow on his face, and something else. Something good. Something that told me that everything was going to be all right. That we were going to be all right. He crossed the room and sat down next to me on the bed. Took my hand. I started crying. He started crying.

"Are you scared?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied.

"What will we do?"

Silence. Staring. Tears. Smiles.

"Be good parents."

"Okay," I said.

100 Miles: Volume Fourteen

I feel the need to pause just a tick.

This second part of the story is hard for me to write. I have loved three men in my life: one loved me badly, one loved me the best that he could, and one didn't love me enough. It makes me sad to relive some of these parts, because...well. I made mistakes. He made mistakes. It wasn't the right cosmic alignment, or aureal conjunction, or (more probably) we just didn't try hard enough.

This part of the story hurts. But it is all part of the story.

My son.

In the beginning, my intent in writing this for you was to share with you the kind of person I was before I was just "Mom". My entire life I have struggled for individuality, for that one thing that says, "This is me, and nobody else. This is a unique and special person who is different from anyone you've ever known."

I rebel against stereotypes. I resist being categorized. I reject the idea that everyone is the same. I refuse to accept that you, or I, are cast from the same mold as the dude standing next to you in the grocery line.

Can you understand?

Can I explain to you what it means to me that you be allowed to realize your full potential? How abhorrent it is to me that someone, somewhere, may try to change you or deter you from being the one person that you were meant to be? Can I tell you how my heart swells with pride, thinking that I had some small part of what you turned out to be? Can I ever show you how much it means to me that you read this, and understand, and see what I am trying to do?

What I meant it for was special. What this has turned into, is amazing.

I picture you reading this, and being shocked, or confused, perhaps even horrified. Perhaps you didn't know these things about me. Perhaps you never thought about it. Perhaps all I ever was to you was the "parental unit", the one who wasn't always there, the one who left you, the one who let you go. The one who gave up, and perhaps in your eyes, walked away.

How can I ever repair that? How can I ever make it right? How can I tell you how I am crying as I write this? That just the thought of you, and how simply special you are to me, can bring me to my knees, make me weep, make me want to save you, protect you, keep you from harm? Including the harm I caused?

I can't.

So somewhere in between starting this and sharing it with some small portion of the internet population, I realized that my ultimate intent here is to make you understand, to make you see how very, very much I love you. How much it means to me when you tuck your little hand into mine. When you sing with me and the radio. When you come into my room, before I'm awake, and tuck the covers around my neck and kiss my cheek. How special it is when you turn to me, radiant, telling me something so important to you with your five-year-old mind and five-year-old voice, and twenty-year-old words, and I don't even hear you because I just get lost in your eyes because I love you. Just that damn much.

The most important thing I will ever tell you is that you were conceived, and born, and lived in love. Your father and I never once thought twice about you, we never second guessed, we never agonized over whether to keep you. In you, I found my salvation. In you, I found forgiveness. In you, I found my heart and my soul and I learned what it was to let someone else own a little corner of who I am. In you I found the reason, the purpose, behind writing this and coming to the conclusion that there is really only one thing at all that I am trying to say.

I love you.

100 Miles: Volume Thirteen

4/7/05

Cinnabon

I started as the mailroom clerk. I was getting paid $9.50 an hour and SO proud. I worked Starbucks on the weekends. Son, I was realizing this week that ever since I moved out on my own, I have always worked two jobs, or just plain worked too hard. The exception, I think, is the year I stayed home with you.

At any rate, after I had been at Cinnabon for three months, I took a position with the Vice President of Purchasing. For two weeks I was working both jobs, getting a little stressed out. It was on one of those days that the new phone guy showed up to fix our voicemail.

I was busy, and irritated, and when he knocked on the mailroom door, I'm afraid that I was a little short with him. He asked where the IT manager was, and I showed him, and I pretty much thought that was that.

Over the next few weeks, I saw the new phone guy a few times, and I am happy to say that I was much nicer to him after that. Before long, we were hanging out all the time. He was bringing me flowers at work and all the ladies were jealous. He was the first man I ever met that treated me as a friend, didn't push me into something before I was ready. His name was GoodMan, your dad, and I came to love him very much.

Once we went to the zoo together, with BigSis and BigBro, your brother and sister. It was the first time I had met them, and we had an awesome time. Your dad told me later that he fell in love with me that day. I think that I had been in love with him already - I just didn't want to admit it.

After about six months of just hanging out, getting to know each other, GoodMan let me know that he was going to be going to Vancouver, WA for the weekend - he had a job there, and he was going to pick up BigSis and BigBro, his kids. It was the first time ever we had not hung out on a weekendthe first time, really, that we would be apart for more than a day.

After thinking about it for a little bit, I told my boss that I needed the rest of the day off, and I called GoodMan and invited myself to go along. After I said it, I was suddenly afraid that maybe he didn't want me to go after allthen he laughed through the phone and said that he would love it if I went.

I think that I started to realize right then that I loved him.

When we got to Vancouver, it was too late to pick up the kids, so we hung out in the hotel and watched infomercials. We ended up buying a set of videos that were similar to Candid Camera episodes - we spent most of the evening howling with laughter watching the clips. It was during one of them that we were both laughing, and we turned and looked at each other, and suddenly I said, "I am so in love with you!"

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was scared. I had never done anything like that before! What if he didn't feel the same way? What if I had just ruined our friendship because of saying something that there was no taking back?

As I sat there, quietly dying inside, your dad suddenly leaned over and kissed me, soft and sweet.

"I love you too," he said.

The Proposal

On the way back from Vancouver, we stopped at a Denny's for lunch. In those days we went there a lot - we liked the crispy chicken salad with ranch dressing. We were still kind of getting used to being together - it was the same as before, only now we held hands, and kissed, and said openly that we loved each other. I had never been so happy.

Over lunch, I just suddenly said, "You know, I think we should just get married."

You will learn, as you get older, that I sometimes have no governor on my tongue. Whatever I am thinking just kind of pops out. My counselor says that it's a sign of my innate honesty, that I can't hide what I'm thinking.

He says it's a good thing. I sometimes have my doubts.

In this case, it was definitely a good thing. GoodMan smiled, and took my hand, and said, "I think you're right."

Several months later, your father took me on a trip to Leavenworth for my birthday. On the way, he stopped at the mall and emerged with a box half as big as I was. No matter how much I pestered him, he refused to tell me what was in it.

When we got to Leavenworth, we spent a day snowboarding and then went to a quiet, romantic restaurant for dinner. While we were waiting to be served, your father pulled a box out of his pocket and put it on the table. All of a sudden, I couldn't stop grinning. He started to tell me how important I was to him, and how much he loved me, and how grateful he was that I was in his life.

Right in the middle of it, of course, the waitress came with our wine. As soon as she realized what she had interrupted, she got all embarrassed and started apologizingbut I think your dad was more embarrassed than she was! Finally she left and your father opened the box and put the ring on my finger that would stay there for the next four years.

Over the next two years, we spent all our time together. We laughed, we cried, we went camping, we traveled to Las Vegas...we had the time of our lives. Those were the best years of my life, make no mistake. For a while we lived in my apartment in Magnolia, then we moved in with GoodMan's mom, your Nana, in order to save money to buy a house. We never argued, we just loved and laughed and looked forward to our new life together.


One weekend, we went on a trip to Port Townsend, on the peninsula. On the way back, we passed through Poulsbo and started looking at the houses there. They were beautiful, and inexpensive. Somehow, we talked ourselves into the idea of buying a house there.

We started looking around. We got a real estate agent named FisherDude, and he must have shown us six or seven houses before we found this one.

The house on Keyport Road: our first home together, where we got married, where you were brought home when you were born, where things started to go wrong. Before all that, though, we were happy. Happier than we had ever been.

100 Miles: Volume Twelve

The Aftermath

One would think that the police getting involved would help. One would think that "the long arm of the law" would shelter someone who had been through what had just happened to me.

Unfortunately, I guess it don't work that way in ShitFuckTown.

Apparently, if there is no visible physical residue from abuse, there is nothing the police can do. They can't arrest, question, or otherwise get involved unless there is physical evidence. At least, that's what they told me. They offered that if I wanted to stay in town for three months, then perhaps I could press charges.

Needless to say, I didn't want to.

PK and his brother showed up every night after that. PK would stand in the street while his brother climbed up on the fence and shouted at me for two or three hours.

"See what you're doing to him? He loves you! He just wants to talk to you! You bitch. Look what you're doing to him!"

Can I explain to you, my beautiful, innocent boy, what it's like to love someone, hate them at the same time, and hate yourself for loving them? Love is about conflict, but the worst is when you love someone who wants only to hurt and control you. Can I explain to you what it's like to be afraid to leave your house because you're terrified of being stuffed back into a strange vehicle like some runaway puppy? I don't think I can.

The drive home, this time, was populated by long silences and few dreams. I was...blank. I knew that this time, it was over. For good.

Months passed. I moved into a section of my grandparents office, with a box spring and mattress on the floor and a dresser in the corner. That was the sum total of my possessions.

I think the best way to describe my state of mind is to say that I was numb. I didnt cry, I didnt feel anything at all just totally shut down. Ill skip over the gory details, suffice to say that I was a good deal luckier than I deserved to be, in emerging physically unscathed from the months after I moved back here from ShitFuckTown.

I didnt get involved in drugs, I didnt drink or anything, the most I ever did was marijuana and I did quite a bit of that but that was it. The pressure that I was feeling, depression, fear, maybe a kind of shock, I guess, could only lift when I was out of my mind on weed.

This went on for several months, three or four at least. I wasnt working, I wasnt doing much of anything productive at all, just mostly in limbo. I dated, a lot. But I never got close to anyoneI was on a sort of emotional, emotionless rampage. It wasnt personal I didnt hate the guys I just didnt feel anything. And I tried to make myself feel something by meeting new people, having new experiences. Needless to say, it didnt work.

Finally in October of 1995, I finally started to come out of it sort of and got a job at Safeway in Overlake. I worked there and at the Taco Time up in Crossroads. I had reunited with a group of friends that I had known from before before Utah, before Job Corps, before my life exploded into something I didnt even recognize.

I moved in with a girl named CrazyBitch. It worked for a while, we had been friends since freshman year in high school. She was very much a project person she liked to have friends with problemsone, so she could help solve them and thus feel important and needed, and two, because it gave her a sense of superiority to someone to have them have as many (or more) issues than she did.

We lived in a little apartment in Crossroads. My first roommate and my first apartment on my own. I did OK, meeting rent, partying, having fun. I met new people, the start of my climbing up out of the pit that I had been in. I re-met a guy named PassiveAggressiveTheSecond, who I had been in love with since high school (who married one of my friends), and through him met other good people, among them TJ, and Batman. I am still friends with Batman today.

TJ was my best friend. We did everything together we were always hanging out. There was nothing we couldnt (and didnt) talk about. He probably knew more about me and more importantly, understood me better than anyone else ever has, with the possible exception of your dad. He knew about JR, in a very detached way I had been very matter-of-fact when telling him about it, not really getting into the guts of it, just keeping to the highlights.

One weekend we went to go see Jerry Maguire, which turned out to be event #2 that changed my life.

Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire, in case you havent seen it, is a movie about a single mom who meets a shallow, materialistic guy (a sports agent) that is desperate to change his life. He marries her, thinking that maybe respect and affection are enough to keep things goingand through her, realizes how little his life has meant up until then. He learns to love, through her and her son.

Theres a part in the movie where Renee Zellwegers character breaks up with Tom Cruises character, because he just doesnt love her enough. I wanted to be that woman someone who valued herself enough to let go of someone she loved, because he wasnt giving her what she was worthy of. I started cryingand didnt stop for five hours.

After we left the theater, I just couldnt stop crying. The tears just kept coming. Finally I had to pull over and let TJ drive because I couldnt see. He drove me around for hoursI was sobbing. About everythingfrom my dad, to leaving PK, to life in general. It was just a total purge of everything I had been holding in for so long. I cant even begin to imagine what it must have been like for TJ Im sure he was freaked out a little, it might have seemed that I was just losing my mind.

At any rate, eventually I stopped. After that things were a little easier, but I still felt just plain empty. Its hard to explainthere was so much inside that I still refused to think about or to face, that I was just turning numb. A counselor I talked to this week called it flat-lining where you retreat inside yourself so much and so far that you cant feel anything at allno joy, sadness, nothing.

This continued for a while, until I applied for a job at the Cinnabon home office. It was my first office job. I had no idea that it would be event #3 to change my life.

100 Miles: Volume Eleven

And Back Again

For the first two weeks, I was never left alone. Not for a minute, not for a second. Not long enough for PK to go to the store, or even to the bathroom. If he went to the bathroom, he took the phone with him. If he had to go to the store, I had to go too. I just tucked my head down and behaved myself. I didn't do anything that would rock the boat, nothing to indicate that I was anything other than a repentant runaway. But I was. I was planning again.

The first time PK left me alone, I moved too quick. I was taking a bath, and no sooner did I hear his truck crunch out of the driveway than I was out of the bathtub, seizing the phone, and calling my dad again.

Nothing.

What? I checked the battery. No battery. I dug out an old plug in normal phone...no dial tone. What the hell?

I went out on the porch, looked at where the phone wires came into the house. I'm not going to lie son, I am pretty hopeless about cables and wires and hooking things up. I couldn't tell if it was hooked up or not. I went back inside. I knew that I was caught, it was just a matter of time until PK came back.

As soon as he walked in the door, I watched him dully as he pulled the phone battery out of his pocket, and with a smug look at me, went outside and plugged one end of the wires into a outlet on the outside of the house. Then he came back in, gloated at me for a minute, picked up the old-ass plug in phone, and hit redial.

I closed my eyes. Done. I moved too soon! When would I learn patience?

I let his harangue wash over me, just nodding at the appropriate parts, otherwise not really paying attention. I almost wished he would hit me or something, just to jolt me out of this apathetic stupor. Instead I think my lack of response somehow satisfied him, because at length he shut up. Or perhaps he was a little afraid of overdoing it...you know, push the bitch too hard and she might just snap.

I went to bed.

We visited his mother a few days later. We sat on her couch with PK's arm draped over my shoulder. I was idly occupying myself with thoughts of how long it might take before PK's boss wanted him back to work, and who I would enlist to help me. I was planning what I would take with me, this time I knew I would be lucky just to make it out of that house with myself and some clothes on my back.

I almost missed it when his mother said, proudly, "You guys look great together. Dianne, it really seems like you've settled down. You seem more comfortable together than I have ever seen you."

What?

Whatever.

I went back to planning.

Spitfire

Spitfire was the one I finally decided would help me. Spitfire was a petite, permed, platinum blonde with big blue eyes and cute as a button. Spitfire worked with me at Safeway. She was my only friend, only my friend, and I knew that she and her husband, HellsAngel, would help me out.

Finally PK had to go back to work. He wasn't going to let me go back to work, and we couldn't very well pay the bills with the two of us sitting at home staring at each other. The first day, after he left, I was lying in bed luxuriating in being alone. Really, really alone.

Have you ever listened to silence? It sounds odd, but when you are constantly in the presence of someone, especially someone as inimical as PK was, you actually notice the silence. It's like a big down comforter of peace and quiet that you can just fall into and snuggle it around you. You hear things like birds, and dogs barking, and the wind, and the sun, and all the sounds of freedom, of people who don't have to look over their shoulders...just in case someone is there.

To this day, I can't stand to be around someone too much. I treasure my alone time and my freedom like a blind man would treasure the gift of sight. It's put a crimp on many a relationship throughout my life.

The phone rang.

"What are you doing back here?" It was Tricksy. I was dumbfounded. How had he known? To this day I still don't know if he guessed, or if someone told him, or maybe he was watching my house, I don't know. Maybe there really was some kind of crazy psychic connection between us, I don't know. But suddenly my apathy broke and I started sobbing. I told him the whole stupid story, about my mom and PK and ending up in Tacoma, and ultimately back in ShitFuckTown.

Finally he asked, "When are you leaving?"

"As soon as I can get ahold of Spitfire."

"I'll have her call you, OK? Hang in there."

Spitfire called two days later. PK was sitting on the couch, watching TV and me, while Spitfire spoke in my ear. Rapidly, as if afraid of being overheard, she told me to pretend it was someone else and that she would make some plans and call me back during the day. Was he at work during the day? Did he come home for lunch? Did I have all my stuff I wanted to take?

I pretended it was one of the waitresses from the Chinese restaurant. I answered her questions with "Yes" or "No", and hung up. I invented an entire conversation, telling PK that my friend BitchAndAHalf from the restaurant had heard I was back in town and was seeing how I was doing. Inside, I was singing.

Spitfire picked me up in the afternoon. I took a crate of books and two garbage bags of clothes and shoes. The plan was that we would go to her house until my dad could come get me. Her husband HellsAngel was out of work and would stay with me at home until my dad got there. We figured it would take a week or so.

I was afraid. I refused to go near the windows, in fact HellsAngel made sure I didn't. We kept all the shades drawn so you couldn't see inside the house, not even by accident. I was forbidden from going outside, not to get the mail, not to have a cigarette, nothing.

I talked with Tricksy a couple times. He wanted to know how I was doing, asking when my dad was going to be there. Telling me he missed me and that he wished we would have met in different circumstances. I agreed, but wasn't really worried about it. Thinking about getting home, away from ShitFuckTown forever, was all I could think about.

Three days passed. My father would be there in two more days.

100 Miles: Volume Ten

5/12/04

I re-read the story last night - don't worry, this part is almost over. I don't know that all this was necessary for you to know, as it does not directly pertain to you, but there is one lesson I learned as a result of all that has gone so far. Pay attention, and remember, because it is one of the most important lessons I have to teach you.

The lesson is that your experiences in life, the good, the bad and the ugly, is what makes you who you are, who you are inside. Someone who went through life without anything bad happening to them would be a very one-dimensional kind of person. There is a certain kind of depth and wisdom that negative experiences will imprint on someone.

For that reason, I am telling you now that if I had it all to do all over again, if I was standing again at that fork in the road that lead to Seattle and home in one direction, and PK and ShitFuckTown in the other direction, I would still do the same as I did then. Who is to say that if I didn't go that route, that I would have met your Daddy and had you? Who is to say that something worse might not have happened?

I learned very valuable lessons, fairly cheaply, in ShitFuckTown...important lessons that I am still learning from. So don't ever what-if yourself, son. Do what seems to be right at the time and take your chances that it might not work out. Because what you go through makes you who you are, and to give up those experiences and memories would be to change what makes you...you.

To continue:

That evening, PK and I went for a drive. I knew he was leaving the next day, and I just wanted to make it through the next couple of hours and into the next morning without incident so he would leave and I could get on with my life.

We drove around the neighborhood for a while, not really saying much of anything, just kind of small talk. I was vaguely surprised that PK didn't try arguing more...earlier that day I had made clear again that I was not returning with him to ShitFuckTown. I chalked it up to the fact that he must finally have realized that it was a lost cause.

I should have known better.

We were sitting in the parking lot of the elementary school down the street from my mother's house when he turned to me in the darkness.

"I don't know how to tell you this, Dianne," he said, almost gently. One would almost think that he actually cared. "Your mom and I talked today, and when we get back, they're going to tell you that if you don't come back with me tomorrow, you won't be able to stay with them." He paused. I could feel the satisfaction coming off him in waves.

I didn't really believe him. I figured this was more manipulation on his part to make me go with him, one last desperate card to lay on the table. I just stared at him and said, "It doesn't matter. I'm not going back with you." But inside, I wondered. I had nowhere else to go other than my grandparents, and they lived forty minutes away and I had no way to get there. A worm of uneasiness started squirming through my stomach. Would my mom really do that?

Turns out, she would.

"You've run away from everything you've ever done in your life. I can't let you run away from this. You're a quitter, and I wouldn't be a good mother if I let you continue." All this, delivered with some kind of smug, self-righteous attitude that screamed, grated in my head.

A good mother? Please.

A good mother supports her child. A good mother would remove her child from a situation where they were getting hurt, no matter what the reason was, no matter the situation. A good mother does not throw her child back in with the wolves and tell them to "buck up and take responsibility." A good mother would have: Kicked. His. Ass.

"Really, mom? Really? Well how about you live in a situation where all your money is taken as soon as you make it so that your husband can go party, while you make do with underwear that have holes in them and one bra to wear all the time? Why don't you live in a situation where your husband opens a door with your face, and "accidentally" knocks you halfway across a room? Or because you defend yourself, plows your head into a wall? How about you live in MY situation, in MY head, and THEN you can have a fucking opinion about whether or not I am a quitter!" I was raging. I have never spoken to my mother that way, not before or after. I was so hurt, so impossibly betrayed, that I didn't even care any more. I felt like my heart was breaking into little bitty pieces and then she was walking all over them. Then telling me it was for my own good.

The rest of the night was spent in arguments and screaming and tears. My mom held firm, and through it all, I could feel PK's satisfaction that my mother, my family, was supporting him and not me.

Finally I wound down. Nothing I was saying was making any sense to anyone, or they just weren't listening. Finally I got up, got dressed for bed, and without a word went into what used to be my room, when this was home (and not where strangers lived). PK stayed up talking with my family and eventually came to bed.

What should I have done? I should have sat myself on that couch and refused to move, I should have told them that if my mom really felt good about kicking me out when I was asking for her help, then I would sleep on the porch. I should have walked myself to my grandparent's in Bellevue. Anything, anything at all, rather than what I did. Which was to shut my mouth, give up, and go to bed.

Around three in the morning, I tiptoed out of the bedroom and fumbled around until I found the phone. I dialed my grandparent's number, but no one answered. Again and again I tried, and no one would pick up the phone. I left three voicemails on their phone that night, but not surprisingly, it was three AM and they were asleep. I tried to sneak in a phone call in the morning while PK and my stepfather were loading the remnants of my great escape into the back of his red Chevy pickup. With every ring that wasn't answered, I could see my freedom and my opportunity for change, my chance to have a different life, slipping away.

The drive back to ShitFuckTown took only ten hours.

100 Miles: Volume Nine

To my everlasting shock and surprise, my mother let me know that I was not going to get several days; in fact, I was not going to get even one. It transpired that as soon as PK got home that evening and saw that I had gone, he called my mother. They spent the entire time on the phone, the entire time that I was luxuriating in my new freedom, and happily planning what I was going to do with my life, on the phone, planning how to keep this farce of a marriage together. She gave him permission to come up here to see me.

To say that I was dumbfounded would be an understatement. All the fear came rushing back again, so fast it stopped my breath. I couldn't breathe. All I could do was stare at her, this woman, this stranger, so calmly telling me that she had just ruined my life. Beyond that, I was betrayed. My mother, my mother that gave birth to me and was supposed to support me and defend me against everyone and anything, had sold me out. She believed him and not me.

There was nothing to say. Nothing I could say. She tried to tell me that it would be OK, that she wouldn't let anything bad happen to me, that she would mediate between us and make everything all right. I just stared at her dully, and didn't say a word. I was numb.

The next day, PK arrived. He was friendly and smiling, and oh-so-glad to see me. He missed me so much. I was sick inside. I knew that I would get it. I knew that the nicer he was now, the more he would take out his anger on me later. My mother beamed at us and tried to fill up the silence with small talk, as if I wasn't just sitting on the couch staring at nothing, as if I wasn't seeing all my hope crumble into little bitty pieces. I knew then that it wasn't over, it would never be over, that he would never let me go, ever.

He suggested going to see a movie. I didn't answer. My mother, however, thought that was a wonderful idea, and gave him directions to a nearby theater. He said that he would take me somewhere we could talk, and then we would go to see a movie. I just stared at him in disbelief. I could not believe this was happening.

We drove to Shilshole Marina, and talked. Or rather, PK talked, a nonstop monologue about why I should come back with him. I couldn't have gotten a word in edgewise, not even to agree, even had I wanted to. I just kept shaking my head, mumbling "No," over and over again. That was all I wanted to say to him..."No." As it continued, he got more and more frantic. He started making extravagant promises - that he would buy me anything I wanted, that I could buy myself new clothes, anything I wanted, if I would just come back with him. All I could do was shake my head and say "No."

Finally he wound down and we got back in the car. I wondered what he would do next - I couldn't believe that it would be this easy. Sure enough, when he started driving towards the freeway, I said the first thing other than "No" that I had said all evening: "Where the hell are you going?"

"To the movies." His voice was grim. It was frightening.

"That is not the way to the theater." I shouted at him, struggled with the door handle, as I saw the sign for I-5 South looming up ahead. I had to get out of the car. I couldn't breathe.

Suddenly he exploded.

He was taking me home! He was driving back to ShitFuckTown tonight! He had spent enough time trying to explain to me that this was how it had to be, that this was what was going to happen, so now he was just going to do it!

I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs and I couldn't stop. Let me go! Let me go! Just let me go! I was sobbing as I tried to open the door, at 45 miles an hour, I was going to jump out. He leaned over and grabbed my arm and yanked it away from the door, gripping it so hard I could hear the bones grating against each other. I was positive I was going to die. The cab of the truck was a miasma of screaming and shouting and anger and fear. I don't think I formed a coherent thought for several minutes. He was shaking me back and forth and shouting and all I could do was scream.

Suddenly I just gave up. I could feel all the fight go out of me. What was I doing? What, did I think that I could actually make it on my own? Did I really think that I was smart enough, brave enough, responsible enough to actually be out on my own? What was I thinking?

We rode in silence for 45 minutes.

Finally we got off the freeway in Tacoma. Since I had calmed down, PK was willing to get a motel for the night in Tacoma, then tomorrow we would go back to Seattle so I could get my stuff and say goodbye to my family. I thought, but didn't say, that saying goodbye to my family was the last thing I wanted to do. At that point I hated my mother, deep and strong and poisonously. Suddenly, it all was her fault. Everything I had gone through, everything I had done to get away, just to have it all be for nothing because of her.

When we got to the motel, PK went to go use the bathroom and I picked up the phone.

"Hello?" It was my mother.

"Mom." That was all I could get out.

"Where are you? We thought you would be back by now." Still not much concern.

"Where am I?? Where AM I?" I screamed at her. Louder than I have ever screamed at her before. "I'm in fucking TACOMA, THAT'S where I AM! Why? Why am I in Tacoma? Because of YOU, Mother! He fucking brought me here instead of the fucking movies, and I almost jumped out of the fucking car on the fucking freeway because he was going to take me HOME! THAT'S where the fuck I am!"

Breathing heavily, I stopped. My mother was silent. Finally I said, "We'll be back tomorrow. He wants me to get my stuff and then he says we're going back to Oregon."

No response.

"Bye, mom. I'll talk to you tomorrow." I hung up.

PK and I talked for a long time that night. I went back to saying that I wasn't going to go with him, that it was over. He went through all the emotions at me: begging, anger, desperation, screaming, anything he could think of that would work. Amazingly, I stuck to it. I refused to agree to go back with him. Eventually he retreated to asking if we could be friends, divorced friends that still "slept together". I have no idea what he thought that would accomplish. Finally, wearily, I agreed just to shut him the hell up so I could go to sleep.

The next morning I returned home, still thinking that I was in control of the situation, still thinking that PK would be returning to ShitFuckTown alone. We sat on my mom's couch, me staring out the window, PK pretending to care, me tolerating his arm around my shoulder, him pretending that I wanted it. And my mom, beaming at us and pretending that it was all real, that it was all going to be okay.

Just one big pretense.

100 Miles: Volume Eight

I panicked. I scraped at his arm with my fingers but it was like trying to move a block of stone with a feather. Finally I tucked my chin down, and bit, as hard as I could. Next thing I knew, my head was flung against the wall and I just crumpled. I was gasping for breath and my head hurt so bad, and I was sure it was over. PK stood over me, breathing hard. I heard him say he was going out. I heard the door slam and then his truck screeched out of the driveway.

I waited. Was this a trick? Did he really leave me here or was he waiting to see what I would do? Five minutes. Ten minutes. Nothing. I picked up the phone and called Tricksy.

He answered on the third ring, and was in a meeting. I asked him to call me back through sniffles and with a voice that I barely recognized as my own, and hung up. Five minutes later, the phone rang and I picked it up.

"What's wrong, baby?" He asked me in a soft voice.

I couldn't help it. I lost control.

"I have to go! I have to get out of here! He is killing me and I have to go! Do you understand? Do you understand that I have to go?!" I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs. All my fear, all my anger, everything I had kept bottled up inside of me came pouring out in loud, ragged, hyperventilating screams. I don't remember if I said much else, I remember trying to explain what had happened, but it all came out disjointed and I'm sure he didn't understand a word.

"Have you called your family? You have to call them, you have to tell them. It's gone on long enough. Call them, now." He was so calm, so quiet.

I called my dad and went through the same story again. It spilled out in a rush, all the fear, everything that I had never told my family because I was afraid they would be disappointed, or ashamed. I was beyond caring at that point.

Wonder of wonders, my father, who had never been there for me, ever, was there for me then.

"Sit tight, sweetheart. Your grandfather and I will be right there." His calm voice came across the telephone and somehow, I knew he was telling me the truth. They would. They would drop everything and come rescue me, because they loved me. Do you know what that meant to feel that? Do you know, after months and months of feeling unloved and neglected and unlovable, how that felt to hear that? I couldn't speak.

Somehow we managed to work out a time when I would be home, that PK would be at work, and we had our plan. May 10, 1995, three months after my disaster of a decision to go ahead with the wedding, my father and my grandfather arrived in ShitFuckTown, Oregon, after a fourteen-hour drive, to rescue me and take me home.

It's beyond me why it took me that long.

Home

I thought that was the end. I thought it was over, it was a nightmare, but it was done. I was wrong.

I had worked out with my dad that he would explain things to my mother, and I would come home to stay with her until I figured out what to do. The ride back was quiet. I didn't speak, I didn't cry, I didn't do much of anything. I just sat and looked out the window at the countryside streaming by, looking, but not seeing much of anything. Just reveling in the quiet. It was so quiet. After months of arguing and shouting and constant, never ending fear, it was almost impossibly quiet. My dad spoke softly to me every once in a while, but mostly he left me alone with my thoughts.

I can't even explain what I was thinking. I was still scared. I think that by then, fear was a permanent part of my personality. I couldn't believe it was over, that in less than a day, I would be home. I started letting myself think about life without PK. What would I do? Would I go to school? Get my drivers license? Buy a car? Where would I live? Where would I work? What would I do with myself? Would I ever meet anyone else? You would think that by this time, I would be completely turned off of the idea, but somewhere on that ride, from southeast Oregon to the Pacific Northwest - to home - I found a grain of unexpected optimism. I was sure that I had faced the worst life had to offer, and that I was safe, and it was over, and that there was something better out there for me.

When I got home to my mother's, we unloaded all my furniture and belongings that we had miraculously managed to pack up in 30 minutes of frantic action. My mother stood to one side, wringing her hands and chewing her bottom lip and asking me if I was alright, and what I planned to do. I didn't know! I told her I wanted a few days to recoup, to not think about anything. To take my book down to the park and watch the birds and sit in the sun and just be glad. Just to be glad to be away.

Not to be! Later that night, my mother hesitantly asked me what my plans were in regards to talking to PK. I informed her in no uncertain terms that I did not intend anything in that regard, that I hadn't decided yet, and that I was planning to wait several days before even thinking about thinking about it. My insistence on my own way surprised me, but I recognized that with my mother, I was on surer ground. Ever since I was twelve years old, I had failed to be impressed by my mother. I was finally the one in control, and dammit, I was not letting it go.

100 Miles: Volume Seven

Safeway

Tricksy was the Assistant Manager at the Safeway. He was sweet, and gentle, and quiet, and he subtly flirted with me. He was the first man to do that in so long that I didn't even know how to react. It was hard for me to believe that he found me attractive - my self-esteem was lower than it had ever been, before or since.

Once, in the back room of the Safeway, when we were both working late, Tricksy kissed me. I was shocked, paralyzed, and so scared I almost ran out crying. We talked for a long time that night. I told him how it was with PK, and it was such an odd experience to have someone, after all this time, to talk to. Someone that listened, sympathetically, and told me it wasn't my fault. I couldn't believe that. Obviously, I was an awful wife or else my husband would want to be around me, right?

Thus began my affair, in April of 1995, with Tricksy, the Assistant Manager of the Safeway.

He would meet me at the park down the street from my house on days I didn't work, after PK had already come home for lunch and gone again. He would brush his fingers on my cheeks, trail his fingers through my hair, tell me I was beautiful, and I would cry. We wrote each other poems and talked about how we felt about each other. We made sweet, slow love in the woods, in the sunshine, and he told me he loved me and that he would help me get away. He opened my eyes to a completely different world, a completely different kind of man. I was constantly afraid, consumed with guilt, and excited, and I couldn't get enough.

One time, I was checking groceries and PK's father, Drunkie, showed up in my line. He was (perhaps still is) a raging alcoholic. One of the rules in being a checker is that you personally are liable if you sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. I was afraid that he was coming through my line drunk, and that he would ask me to sell him alcohol, and that I would have to turn him down.

I leaned over and told the bagger to go get the manager, because I thought that one of the men in line was drunk. Tricksy was on duty as Assistant Manager that night, and he came down to "relieve me" for a break - I whispered the situation and headed off to the break room, after giving Drunkie a hug and letting him know, "regretfully" that it was time for my break. He had a six-pack in his hand, and I could smell the fumes coming off of him when I gave him the hug. I never saw what happened, but Tricksy said that he refused to sell him the alcohol and Drunkie left in a huff.

A couple hours later, I received a call from PK, frantic. His mother had been in an accident and was in the hospital. He wanted to know if he could come get me. I of course agreed, concerned for SC, and explained the situation to Tricksy, again. He agreed to let me go and PK picked me up 15 minutes later.

We started driving...but not towards the hospital. I was confused and asked PK what we were doing - wasn't the hospital that way? He just told me that there had been no accident, and refused to say anything else until we got home. I was getting a sick feeling in my stomach and I was scared, so scared.

Son, I hope you never inspire fear in a woman. I hope that if you did, you would be ashamed yourself. If I ever found that a woman was as scared of you as I was of PK that night, I would be so completely disappointed with you. I would feel like a serious failure, knowing that I hadn't managed to instill more respect for women (or just people in general) into you. So please. Don't.

We reached home and I was shaking so badly I could barely open the door. I was ashamed of myself that I was so clearly and helplessly afraid. We went inside and I could see that PK was angrier than I had ever seen him - angrier even than the night I told him that I was accepting the job at Safeway. He was shaking with his anger, his face was flushed, and he loomed over me while I sat on the couch and cried. I was absolutely, terrifyingly certain that he knew about Tricksy.

His father had called him upon reaching home that evening, and told him that while in line, he had seen me lean over and kiss the bagger.

I couldn't believe this. I could not believe that one, PK didn't even think to ask me if it was true, and two, that he actually believed I would do that in front of his father! I even tried to talk to him logically about it, but he was having none of it. Listening to him, going on and on and on about how I was cheating on him, how he knew because his father had told him so, something just snapped inside me. I slipped, and used some of my newfound backbone and said something sarcastic. I don't even remember what it was, anymore...I think something about him being stupid and to use his head.

The next thing I knew, his arm was around my neck, choking me, and he was growling in my ear that he was going to kill me.

100 Miles: Volume Six

This went on for some time, getting steadily worse. Soon he wasn't coming home until morning on a regular basis. I got a job at a little Chinese restaurant up the street. Surprise surprise, soon SC had a job there too. Now it was my turn to be monitored twenty-four hours a day. He had his mother watching me at work, and his brother's girlfriend watching me at home (PoorBastard (PK's brother) and HelloKitty (PoorBastard's girlfriend) lived right across the hall from us). I worked hard. It seemed that if I could at least work hard, earn some money, maybe just a little could be held back. I had this vague thought that some day I might be able to save enough to get my own bus ticket out of there.

That was harder than I realized. I was barely able to save five or six dollars each time I worked. SC would tell PK how much she made in tips that night, and if I didn't bring as much home as she did, he would get suspicious and accuse me of not giving him all my tips. I asked for help from the owner of the Chinese restaurant - she had seen PK and I together and did NOT approve - and she agreed to hold on to some of my money. I would give her five or ten dollars a night, not enough to be missed, and she agreed to keep it until I asked for it.

Once, just before the wedding, PK announced that he and his cousin, JerkOff, were going to go to Eugene for the weekend.

Just because.

Eugene, if you recall, is where BiggerBitchAss lived. I knew what was going on, an idiot would have seen it. It's hard to explain how ineffectual I felt, and therefore was. All my objections were laughed off, all my concerns were sneered at and I was made to feel, again, like a sulky baby worrying over nothing. He ridiculed my feelings, telling me I was being stupid, insecure, jealous. I offered to go with him; of course, he declined.

This was one week before we were supposed to get married.

I couldn't believe this was happening. Now, I can't believe that I was so weak as to allow it. I wrote a super angry letter to her while they were gone. Later, he told me how he and his dad found it and read it, and laughed.

Unbelievably, he went on his trip, came back, and I still went through with the wedding. Why? It's hard to explain, because I don't really understand it myself. I was embarrassed to admit to my family, who were all coming down for the wedding, that I had made a mistake, that everything was not perfect, that I had gotten myself into a situation that was getting out of control. I was convinced that no one would ever love me, that this was the best I was going to get, that this is the way it was. He had me convinced that without him, I was nothing. I was lucky that he even put up with me and my childishness. And like a child, I believed what he told me.

We were married on February 11, 1995. I wore a confection of a white gown that my mother made for me, and my grandpa had sewn millions of beads onto. It was gorgeous, just like Cinderella. I felt like a fairy tale princess when I wore it. I had my blonde hair piled on top of my head, and looked like a little girl playing dress up. PK didn't dance with me at our reception.

After the wedding, we moved to a house in the north end of town. It was a tiny little house, but it was my first one and I was convinced somehow that now that we were married, things would be different. Again. Now that we were married and living in a little house, how could he go on going out all the time? Wouldn't he now want to be with me?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing changed, except for the worse. It was in our new little house that I was so excited to live in that PK hit me for the first time. It was in our new little house on Nevada street that he told me, one at a time, about the other women. About BBA, whom he had slept with a week before our wedding. About another girl, back in Job Corps, he had slept with just before we left. About some nameless girl at a party, and he didn't even know her name. I made him get an AIDS test after that one. Surprisingly, I held my ground and he did it.

Things started getting weirder and weirder. He started telling me that if I ever left him, he would get a gun and shoot me, then shoot himself. This would be right after we had finished making love. He started saying that all the time - "Don't forget: if you ever leave me, I will kill you. Love you, bye." How do you deal with that? I didn't know. I just withdrew more and more into myself and argued with him less and less. I was half convinced I would die in our new little house, on Nevada street.

In March of 1995, I applied for a job at Safeway, down the street from the Chinese restaurant where I still worked. I was offered almost two dollars an hour more than I was making at the restaurant, and told them I would start right away. Later than night, PK and I got in one of the biggest arguments we had had to that point. He was enraged that I would do this without asking his permission. I think what it was, is that he was surprised that I had the guts to do it without his permission. I was a little surprised by that myself.

When he told me he would divorce me if I took the job, like a dumbass, I called the manager and told him I appreciated the offer, but that I could not accept, thank you anyway. He called back 15 minutes later with a 50 cent more an hour offer. I told PK what he said, and he told me I was an idiot, I just should have taken the job. OK, whatever.

I started at Safeway within the week, as a checker. I loved it, where I had hated being a waitress. I loved that I was good at it. I loved that I was meeting new people. Two of the new people I met were Spitfire, and Tricksy. Tricksy was the second man to change my life.