When my first husband and I separated, I took my nine month old daughter and moved back to Houston. At the time I still loved him deeply. We were on cordial terms although we knew we were not going to be together again. We were trying to work out, child support, who would raise the child and thinking about a no fault divorce. Meanwhile, my brother and his wife allowed Jennifer and me to stay at their home while I found work. My niece was a couple of years old at the time and my brother and his wife constantly had vicious fights. When I could I would take the two little girls out for a walk or to play.
Jenny was just learning to say a few words, Judi was past using diapers and bottles. I first worked at a nursery school which was very poorly organized and hired women who were just short of incompetent. So I quit and took Jennifer out of that environment. I went to charity stores where I found the perfect blue polkadot dress to wear to interviews for about a quarter (doesn’t that seem impossible)? Interviewed many places and ended up working as a file clerk (before computers became widespread) doing this rolling machine, tiny card by card. I eventually saved enough money to leave my brothers home and to move to a hippie area in Houston which had good bus service.
Meanwhile, I got back in contact with two friends, William and Andy. William and I used to go out with each other and just end up at interesting places, where we had adventures. Bill was my night in shining armor and would come and pick Jenni and me up even though it was 15 or 20 miles from where he lived. My mom, would pick me up after work. She used to drop me off to pick Jenni up at the home nursery where she stayed when I was working. She would sometimes take me to my brother’s home or Jen and I would take the bus. Another friend had found out I was back in Houston, probably through Andy. She recommended me for an opening,I interviewed well and got a job working at the University of Houston library. I spent Christmas that year at my friend William’s apartment with Jenni, in order to have time with a friend and to be with a happy person.
We drank magic Christmas morning and all three of us slept together. Jenni slept later than we did and we were chatting away when a friend of Bill’s that lived below him came up a flight yelling and screaming about the fact that Bill had a woman with him, knocked the door until it shook and soon after the door was opened,fists were flying and Bills jaw was broken. As this happened, I called the police, hoping they wouldn’t know we were high and would help my friend out. The crazy jealous young man eventually left, my daughter slept through the event, and the police arrived. Jen and I got ready to go, William took us back to my brother’s house, and then went to a hospital to get checked out. He had a broken jaw and I don’t remember, but his nose may have been broken too. You might think that this was the only shock of the day and the times, but it wasn’t.
Later, John my husband called that day and told me he definitely wanted a divorce. He also let me know how wonderful his girlfriend was (I had met her before I left Indiana where we had lived in a little town called Mishawaka).
A few months later I was working filing those tedious cards, had one of the worst headaches of my life and couldn’t concentrate and just hung on until I could leave those ugly files. Mom picked me up dropped me off to pick up Jenni and we rode the bus until we were close enough to my brother’s house, to walk. Soon after I arrived I got a phone call from my favorite sister in law Jill…
“Hi Jill I’m so glad to hear you, this has been a horrific day and it is the first good thing that has happened today.” She was silent for a bit as we chatted. And then she hesitated and told me, I’ve got something to tell you, Johnny is dead. He died of a heart aneurism in the hospital and his last words were “God take me”.
My brother congratulated me, because he said, “I would now have some money”. I couldn’t wait to leave.
born, lived, cried, appreciated, lost, found, lived, laughed, flew in my dreams,
taught others to fly in their dreams, became a telescope reflecting the stars,
dove to the depths of despair ,recovered and walked along the beach as the water escaped from the sea and erased my footprints.
Rosie, your story reminds me of the line from the movie Body Heat, “Sometimes the shit comes down so hard I need a hat.” I’m glad you had supportive friends and family around you at that perilous time. Also glad you lived through and can grace us with the story today.
Thank you so much. I still tear up sometimes when I think about it. People that knew assumed that John had been dead for a long time, when I was working. Had a hard time understanding that I could function. The friends and especially my mother, were lifesavers in many ways. I am sure others have been through much more, but as in another story I read on this topic, you can make a bad situation a learning experience at least, and at most you can come back stronger and wiser. PS I like the quote from body heat, that’s so true.
Ooof, Rosie. Them dog days that stretch into weeks and months and years. I’m reminded of the title to folk singer Richard Fariña’s novel, “Been Down So Long, Looks Like ‘Up’ to Me. And all the time you’re asking “what did I do wrong? How did I get here? or… to quote another person who understands:
“There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief” — Bob Dylan, ‘All Along the Watchtower
I read that book, it was like that. I did have many friends showing up at just the write time to brighten things up. Thanks for reading it.