Friday, February 2, 2007

Woman With a Purpose

I headed home from work at 5:00 that hot August evening. I was weary to the bone and just wanted to be home, my nylons and high heels off and in a cool shower. It was 1970, I was 23 years old and pregnant with my third child. My other two kids were with their dad's folks because I was due any day now, and they had gone on a two week camping trip.

As I came to my street, instead of turning in , I kept going and headed to the bar my husband frequented with his girlfriend. I felt the anger well up inside me, churning in my stomach and coursing through my very pregnant body. We had been separated for the last three months and I had actually lost weight, this last month. I lived on black coffee, cokes, cigarettes and an occasional sandwich.

It was a Friday night and already the parking lot was beginning to fill up with pick-up trucks, guys stopping for a couple of beers before heading home to a house full of kids and an unkempt, nagging wife. I wanted nothing more than a confrontation. I wanted to run into my husband and his lover, head on, full force with a bullet. I wanted to tell him to make a decision: which one of us was it going to be, make a choice once and for all!

As I entered the dark bar, it took seconds for my eyes to become accustomed to the light and I made my way over to the bar. I felt as though every eye in the place was on my bulging stomach. I had only gained a total of 12 pounds throughout all of this but every bit of it was right in front. I plopped myself onto a stool and the bartender came over and asked me what I wanted. I asked for a coke and slowly looked around the seedy joint, looking for the two people I had come to humiliate. I hadn't noticed our car in the parking lot but the slut's apartment was within walking distance so I had no way of knowing if they were inside.

As I slowly realized they weren't there I had to ask myself how long was I willing to sit and wait for them. I was still full of anger but it was beginning to dissipate as I realized I had been on a fool's errand. The bartender came over with another coke and said, "The guy over there told me to bring this to you and tell you that if he knew who you were looking for, he'd warn him and send him out the back door!"

I guess the look on my face told the story when I walked in. Pure anger. I had been ready to force a confrontation and demand that she leave my husband alone and send him home to me. Sure. As if that would do it when all of my pleading in the past had hadn't worked. What on earth made me think that confronting him in front of his drinking buddies would work magic?

I dragged myself out to my stiflingly hot car and drove home to my stiflingly hot house that had been locked up all day long. We didn't have air conditioning since the few really hot days we had didn't warrant it. I peeled off my clothes and took a cool shower and turned on the TV, just to keep me company. My aunt and uncle lived next door and she dropped by to see if I was okay. I reassured her that I was fine, just tired and was going to watch TV and go to bed early.

The heat was brutal. I had an old oscillating fan blowing on me but it wasn't providing much relief. The house was situated in such a way that there was no cross ventilation whatsoever. I'd fill up my glass with ice and before I could finish my coke the ice would melt. Thank goodness I had a couple of bags of ice from the grocery store in the freezer. I scraped some ice off the inside of the freezer compartment with a washcloth and held it to my forehead.

I kept thinking of the woman with whom my husband was sleeping. I'd only seen her once at a distance. I couldn't tell a whole lot about her but we'd spoken on the phone several times. Oh yeah. The last time she'd called, she asked, "Hi, is Bill there? He hasn't gotten home yet." Home? HOME? Just what the hell was she asking ME? This is his HOME, bitch! But I'd sweetly replied, "No, I haven't heard from him yet."

I look back and wonder how in the sweet hell did I pull it off? I always managed to stay civil with her so she couldn't tell him that she understood why he left me. But the minute the woman hung up I would call my mom or one of my friends and go off on her like a banshee! I would rant and rave until I got it out of my system, shaking and crying until my eyes were swollen. But in a strange way, I felt elevated over her because I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of acting like a guest on the Jerry Springer Show.

I wondered where they were and what they were doing. The images of them being together haunted me and made me ill. I thought of the two of us together and the pictures melded into one. I couldn't stand it any longer. I hated her! The enemy. Why had she entered our lives and stirred up this hornets nest? If only I could get my hands around her neck...

The heat became worse as the evening wore on. I went on to bed and tried to watch TV but the room was small with only one window which opened onto the front porch and there was no air moving. It was sweltering. I got up and paced throughout the house. But questions kept swirling through my mind. I tried to read for awhile but the book couldn't hold my interest. My hair was wringing wet and my body looked as though I hadn't bothered to dry off after my shower. My nightgown was soaked through and through. My head started aching so I went into the bathroom for an aspirin. I shook the aspirin into my sweaty palm and looked at it. I looked back at the bottle and saw the white, round pills and many would it take? How long would it take? Would it be quick? Would my baby suffer? I had some liquor out on the back porch, surely a shot of that would knock me out and we could just drift away where things would be easy and cool and green and soft and...But Wait!!! What was I thinking??? I'm pregnant! I can't even be thinking like this! My God, please help me!!!

I sank down onto the bathroom floor and sobbed until I could no longer catch my breath. I laid there for what seemed like hours and finally got up, slowly because every part of me ached. I looked at the clock - it was just 11:00 p.m. I thought for certain it was early in the morning by now. Damn! How was I going to get through the rest of this horrible night? I knew my aunt and uncle were already long in bed. I just needed someone to talk to. I didn't want to call my mom and dad because I was too afraid that in my present state of mind, I'd frighten them. What was I going to do?

I went out to the couch where by now, my cola was all watery and tepid, the glass leaving a big nasty ring on the coffee table. I turned on the TV again and poured a new soda over fresh ice. Thoughts ran through my mind like a freight train, each one jockeying for first place. I seriously thought I was losing my sanity. All alone, my children with their grandparents, my husband off with some bitch he met in a bar; what was wrong with me? Why would he leave me? After all, it wasn't the first time he'd done this. I must be a horrible person or he would want to be with me. I sat with my head in my hands and wept some more.

The shop! Someone would still be at the store. My parents owned a business and it stayed open until 1:00 a.m. on Friday nights! Someone would be there...I raced to the phone, hoping dear Ellen, a close friend, would be working late. The phone rang a couple of times and a male voice answered. My heart stopped. It was Dave. Oh no. He was an old flame of mine from high school who worked for my folks - the only guy that ever broke up with me. In fact, he'd broken my heart and left me for another girl. I should hang up quickly. But I found myself saying, "Hello," and bursting into tears.

He asked who it was, and through the sobs I managed to get out my name and he asked what was wrong. Was I all right? I was sobbing so hard and choking out words that I wasn't making much sense. I finally got out that I was in trouble and just needed someone to talk with. He asked if he should call my mom and dad and I gulped out, "No!" He was quiet for a minute, then said that business was real slow and he would come on over. I thought, "This is not good..." but gave him my address.

He was at the front door within ten minutes. I had calmed down somewhat and was able to tell him what I had almost done with the aspirin and how frightened I was that I had even contemplated doing something that horrible, especially with my baby's life at stake. He took my hand and prayed with me and asked God to give me peace of mind and spirit. We talked about high school and everyday things; we talked about faith and how precious life is; we talked about how difficult relationships can be. We talked for another couple of hours until I was completely exhausted. He left around 3:00 a.m. and I went to bed. I slept until early morning, thankful that I had gotten through the night. Grace.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I read this a few days ago and have been thinking about what I could say. I've just read it again.

When I was in high school the first guy I loved, EVER, started cheating on me. We had been together for 9 months when he left me for her. HER. Why is it that you hate her so much more than him? It's so easy to hate her. To dislike her. Even to this day, even though I'm not with that person anymore, I hate HER. I blame her. He came back though, he came back.... and kept seeing her behind my back. I had a miscarriage at 17. I hated her for it all. for taking him away from me. stealing. Why was it never his fault?

Grace. Grace I'm sorry. I wasn't married. my life is nothing like yours but I understand a little. not enough maybe.