I wasn't keeping a journal when I left my husband and children and *ran away* to Oregon in August 1997: at least, not a journal in the strictest sense of the word. Instead, I collected my e-mail correspondence (to various family members and friends) and put them together. The result was a loosely-structured diary of my thoughts and feelings during this tumultuous period of my life.
That's pretty much all I'm going to offer in the way of *preface* here. I think the letters speak for themselves.
E-mail I wrote to my mom, a couple of days after I'd landed in Oregon.
Subj: Re: Terri
... (Jamie) sent me a scathing "fuck you, I have no mother" e-mail last night, along with something about me stealing money from her. Basically I arrived here in Oregon with eleven bucks and the clothes on my back, so I have no idea what she's talking about. She'll never believe that though, of course...
.. As for her being allowed to "break the news to Kyle," I'm sure she'll do everything she can to make me look like a total monster in his eyes. But then again I suppose I don't have much say in the matter, do I? I'm going to write Kyle a long e-mail to his AOL screen name today, and I hope to get him on the phone early next week ... but that's about the best I can do for now, I suppose.
Thursday morning, before I left for work that last time, I tiptoed into his bedroom where he lay sleeping ... sat down next to him for a minute and held him ... whispered in his ear that I love him. His hair was all messy, and his feet (sticking out from under the comforter) still had socks on them from the day before. It was probably the most painful moment of my life.
In Jaymi's screaming voicemail last night, she told me not to bother trying to come get any of my belongings, because they won't be there. Tim and I talked about it last night, and we were wondering if there were any possibility we could ask you (or Deb & *her* Tim, depending on the degree to which they hate my guts) to pick up some things for me and keep them at your place, until we come back up to Seattle in a couple of weeks? All I want is the stuff in my office (especially my music, my books and my bulletin board stuff) and the clothes in my closet & dresser drawers. I want nothing else. If you don't want to do this, I understand ... but it would mean the world to me if you could, before they go on a rampage & throw a big bonfire. I feel that things like furniture, family heirlooms and photo albums, even the computer, belong right where they are for the time being. I don't want to fight with anybody about any of this. I just want some of MY things.
Tim is having orthroscopic surgery on his knees in three weeks. This was part of what colored my decision to come down here as soon as I did: he's going to need someone to be here with him. We want to get up to Seattle before the surgery, and yes, tops on the list of Important Things To Do (besides retrieving a few of my belongings & trying to see whichever kid(s) still want to have anything to do with me) is having the two of you meet. At the risk of sounding completely lame (again) in the face of all the emotional annihilation I've caused the past forty-eight hours ... I think you'll like him.
It's true that we haven't known each other for very long. We were introduced online by a mutual friend less than a month ago. I feel that in that short time, though, we've learned enough about each other to know that we've got a shot at happiness.
He is a decent person. He loves me. I love him.
He was very sincere yesterday when he told you that this was my decision, not his. His heart is breaking for me. We're happy, of course .... but it's the weirdest damn mixture of happy & sad we've ever felt in our lives.
I kept telling myself that I would wait for the "right" time to leave ... when I had a car again, when I had some money stashed away, when Kyle was safely in his teens & "emotionally capable" of handling it. Etc. But the other night I had an "epiphany," I guess ... all of a sudden I just knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I kept waiting for the "right" time, I would either wake up ten years from now and still be married to Ray ... or that ten days from now I just wouldn't wake up at all.
I regret the fact that I left on our wedding anniversary, of course. There was no hidden agenda there or anything: it was just unfortunate, fucked-up timing.
I regret the fact that I had to leave a job I was genuinely beginning to enjoy ... but I know there are plenty of other things I can do.
Above all else I regret leaving the kids. I don't think I need to elaborate much here.
Tim is trying to relocate to the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle, as early as the beginning of next year. Ironically enough he started out in San Diego ... then moved to Portland a couple of years ago ... but all along his ultimate goal was Seattle. So eventually we will be back.
I haven't spoken to Ray at all yet. Someone keeps calling the apartment and hanging up when they get the answering machine ... when I do the "* 69" thing, I'm informed that the number was blocked ... I imagine it's someone from home, just trying to get me on the phone long enough to scream bloody murder at me. (So for the next day or so I'm going to let the machine pick up the calls, especially since Tim is working all weekend & I am here alone.) At any rate, all I want from Ray is a quick clean break, however he would like to handle it: I will go along with pretty much anything he wants to do. The only request I'm going to make is that the kids be allowed to choose who they want to live with, especially when Tim and I wind up back in Seattle. I don't know how ANY of this legal stuff works, so I don't know if that's even possible ... but that really is all I want. We own nothing together, really. And I've already said that all I want is pretty much the stuff I came in with. I'm hoping that this doesn't turn into a total knock-down-drag-out, but you probably know better than I do whether or not that can be accomplished.
Anyway, there's pretty much where things are at the moment. For a few days I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands while Tim is working. I'm going to walk down to the river a lot, or over to the library (where they don't "know" me, thank god). I now have access to the Internet, for the very first time, so I have a whole new cyber playground to explore and feed my brain with. I'll putter around the apartment and do laundry and listen to music and write in my journal and stuff like that. I'll cry a lot. I'll think a lot. I'll miss the kids, and you, a LOT. But I won't be drinking. And I won't be waking up every morning on a lumpy sofa, hating myself and my life and everyone around me, and just wishing that I would do everyone a big favor and die.
Incidentally, I've pretty much shut down the "SecraTerri" screen name for now. This is mainly so Kacie can use the AOL account, for as long as Ray will allow her to keep it. (I've got her on my Buddy List -- she's online right now, but I've got everything blocked so she can't see "me.") I'll try and talk to her later in the day. Anyway, in the meantime I'll either do my cyber business piggybacking on Tim's name, or else I'll come up with something new for myself, if I have the heart for it eventually.
I'm including my new address and phone number in this e-mail. I ask you to please please PLEASE not give this to anyone else: not even the kids, at least for a little while. I'm trusting you on this one.
I love you, mom. I am so sorry about all of this. If you need to get hold of me, write to me via Tim's screen name or call: if I hear you on the machine, I'll pick up.
There ensued some prickly "back & forth" between Daughter #1 (age 15), regarding my belongings.
Subj: from us
Date: 97-09-01 18:10:34 EDT
From: Daughter #1
Can you please send us a list of things you want from the laundry room and your room? We're cleaning out everything , and what you don't want we'll either keep or give to the salvation army. What ever you want back, please pick it up soon because we don't want it laying around.
Subj: Re: from us
To: Daughter #1
1. All of my clothes in the bedroom closet. Also, if I left anything in the laundry, throw it into a box with the rest of my clothes.
2. All of the stuff from my dresser drawers, and everything on top of the dresser.
3. The boxes of papers, journals, etc. from the bedroom closet.
4. Everything from my office (including all of the stuff on the bulletin board) EXCEPT FOR the computer, the printer, the CD rack (I want the CD's though) and the boombox: you guys can have those.
5. The box of the doc stuff from the attic.
6. Any of my books that you guys don't want.
7. The box of Grandma V.'s teacups & saucers from the garage, and the bookends that Grandpa V. made me (top shelf of the bookcase).
8. The little red tin box on top of the old sewing machine.
9. The set of three "collection" photo frames hanging in the bedroom (one of each of you kids). Those were a Christmas present to me from my mom.
It will be at least two weeks before I can get up there and pick everything up. I've already asked Grandma B. if she can come get everything for me, but I haven't had a reply from her yet.
I remembered a couple of other things I wanted.
Subj: Couple More Things
To: Daughter #1
1. Those antique (blue glass) canning jars that Grandma S. gave me ... I think they have dried flowers in them now.
2. The photo album from my childhood: I think it's the gray one, but you'll have to check. The rest of them belong to you.
Daughter #1 sent me another venomous e-mail,deliberately calling me "Terri" instead of "Mom."
Date: 97-09-01 20:02:37 EDT
From: Daughter #1
About two weeks ago I asked you to drop off some pictures for me. I doubt you ever did since they didn't involve you, but I would like to get them developed now. If you still have the negatives please send them here and if they are already here then where are they? In case you forgot, here's our address ...
Also, Kyle should be home from his rafting trip any minute now. He dosen't know you left yet and I'm not looking forward to telling him. He's only eleven, remember?
I was too hurt and ashamed to respond directly to Daughter #1, so I wrote to Daughter #2 (age 14) instead.
Subj: Re: Pictures
To: Daughter #2
Tell Jaymi that I will return her negatives to her ... and that yes, I "remember" the address.
I thought she was going to have her own screen name. Wasn't that the point of letting you guys have my two extra names?
Daughter #2 quite deliberately (and sensibly) decides to remain neutral.
Date: 97-09-01 19:32:59 EDT
From: Daughter #2
we need 2 know where the bookends and the tea cups r.
A p.s. from Daughter #2.
Subj: one more thing
Date: 97-09-01 19:36:07 EDT
dad wants u 2 call him.
ps. how do u make a new screen name?
I'm treading unbelievably carefully here. Or TRYING to, at least.
To: Daughter #2
SecraT is my new permanent screen name ... and I encourage you (and Kyle) to use it to write to me as often as you please. Even if it's just to tell me how your day went ... or to call me a bitch & tell me to drop dead.
It was nice talking to you today. I've missed you.
Princess Diana was killed that first weekend after I "ran away." My sorrow for her family seemed in some ways to mirror my own situation. It was a profoundly emotional weekend.
Subj: Hi from Mom
Date: 97-09-01 09:04:20 EDT
To: Daughter #2, Son #Only
Hi Kyle & Kacie.
I sent you both e-mail through Grandma yesterday, but sometimes it takes almost a day for the Internet to forward AOL e-mail. So I thought I would write something this morning under the old "SecraTerri" screen name, just to let you know that I'm thinking about you kids constantly ... and missing you more than you can possibly imagine.
I've spent most of the weekend watching the Princess Diana stuff on TV and teaching myself how to use the Internet & Windows 95.
I also wrote some letters (real letters, not just e-mail) ... one to my Dad, one to your Dad, and a few others. It was a pretty quiet few days, all the way around.
I don't know what's going to happen to all of us. I can only hope that you'll all be there for your Dad, and give him all the love & support he needs. I also hope that you realize that even though my big cranky butt isn't sitting right there in the laundry room with you ... my HEART is.
I'll be in touch again, later today or tomorrow. I love you.
A brief, worried e-mail from me to Kyle (age 11)
To: Son #Only
Sure would love to hear from you, if you're still speaking to me.
My new screen name is: SecraT
Phone number (you can call collect): (503) xxx-xxxx.
We have a lot to talk about.
Letter I wrote to my mom; worried because I haven't heard from the kids.
It's Thursday evening. Tim is at a Starbucks company meeting, and I've been sitting here working on my résumé for a couple of hours ... thought I would take a break and fire off a quick e-mail to you, just to let you know I'm still alive.
I haven't heard a word from the kids or Ray since Monday afternoon. Kacie wrote me an e-mail that day, saying that they were going through my belongings & wanted to know what to "keep" and what to "throw away" ... I ended up calling and talking to both Kacie and Ray. Ray sounded tired and resigned. He asked me not to start anything legal until the end of the year -- I don't know why (?) -- and said that he would store all my stuff in the garage until I'm ready to come pick it up. It was a sad and awkward conversation for both of us, but I did have a chance to tell him that I'm sorry for everything ... which I am ...
Mostly right now I'm just worried about Kyle, and about his reaction. I haven't talked to him since the morning I left. I send him an e-mail every single day, but still haven't gotten a reply. Can you shed any light on the situation for me? How are they doing? Do they ALL hate me?
This will be the screen name from now on, btw, until I find out whether or not AOL will let me transfer "SecraTerri" from the old account to the new one. Ray said that he's going to keep AOL for awhile, so the kids can use it (and maybe so he can try it out .. ???).
Anyway, things here are mostly going OK. I'm depressed about everything that's happened, but I'm trying really hard to concentrate on what comes next. Feeling healthier than I have in a while, at least. Been spending a lot of time teaching myself how to use the Internet, Windows 95 and Corel Draw ... figure they'll look good on a resume. Job-hunting already: amazing how many opportunities there are in this podunk little town! Before I go to bed tonight I'm e-mailing a resume to Chrome Data Corp. in Oregon City ... they're looking for a Secretary/Receptionist, and it's five minutes from the apartment by bus.
Tim is a blessing in more ways than I can count. Today was his day-off ... we drove all around Oregon City and Lake Oswego, hiked through the woods, stopped and had an ice cream cone, talked a lot.
Incidentally, it looks like we'll be coming up to Seattle the weekend of the 26th. We'll most likely drive up Friday morning and head back on Sunday. Will you be home that weekend? Sure would like someone in the family to meet Tim ... and he feels the same way. After that he'll be having his knee surgery so we might not have another chance to get back up for awhile.
There are a lot of things I would really like to talk to you/write to you about, but this is just sort of a "hello how are you?" sort of e-mail, just to make sure that you're still among the handful of people speaking to me ...
Anyway, off I go to finish this résumé and come up with an appropriately-convincing-yet-necessarily-vague cover letter. Please write whenever you get a chance. I'm pretty lonely at the moment -- deservedly so, maybe -- and hungry for "news."
I love you.
Finally! An e-mail from Kyle! Plus a note from Mom.
Date: 97-09-05 20:44:57 EDT
From: Son #Only
ha I heard ya but dads been watching me every second I'm online so I haven't been able to talk to you.I still love you. But I will call or I.M. you every once in a while
Date: 97-09-05 08:00:03 EDT
I thought I had Kyle's e-mail address but evidently I don't because it was returned with a note saying "Hey, you sent this to the wrong person."
Anyway, get me the right address and I'll try again.
I haven't heard from anyone up there since Saturday. Debi didn't say anything to Kyle and she delivered him home on Sunday night. It's been so long since I've heard that I'm sure they've sided me with you and I really don't know what to say if and when I do talk to them. I really don't want to alienate my grandchildren at this point when I might be needed at some point in the future.
Take care--I love you.
HUGE e-mail I sent to my mother & a couple of online friends.
Subj: Bits & *Peaces*
To: kbeeson, Mizzle, Feef
Thanks for the e-mail yesterday (the one you sent via Tim).
One of the pitfalls of Internet e-mail is that we're always likely to be lagging behind a bit, communication-wise ... but right now, more than at any other time in my "cyber life," it is proving to be a LIFELINE. And so are you.
(Of course, now that I'm sharing a computer with a fellow cyberholic, my online time has decreased dramatically. That, plus the fact that when Tim's not working we actually like to DO stuff ... like driving around the countryside, or going to movies, or just sitting around talking. So I'm not sitting in front of the 'puter every non-sleeping/non-working hour, the way I used to.)
When I "do" manage to snag some computer time, though ... like this morning, while Tim's at work for a few hours and I have the place to myself ... I try and cough up as much e-mail to friends & family as possible in as short a time as possible.
Here are some bits & pieces of stuff I've sent (and received) the past couple of days: I think they'll paint a fairly clear picture of what's going on around here at this time.
* * * * * *
My letter to Ray (sent via "snail mail"):
August 31, 1997
I realize you're not going to believe this, but I am genuinely sorry for the crappy way I handled all of this, and for the hurt I've caused all of you.
I don't blame any of you for hating me, although I hope that in time the kids will come to forgive me.
I didn't leave because of anything you did or didn't do. The problem was all with me.
I've asked José to forward my final paycheck directly to you: you should receive it sometime this week. I fully intend to honor my financial obligation to you and the kids, as soon as I'm employed again.
I will go along with just about anything you want to do legally, provided that I get to see the kids on a regular basis (if they want to see me, that is), and provided that we keep it as simple and non-hurtful as possible. There are plenty of options that don't require lawyers and court costs. I think you and the kids have been through enough already.
I would also like to have a few of my personal belongings, primarily clothes, tapes, CDs, some photos and some books. The kids can have the computer and printer, and I have no interest in furniture or any other household items. Those things belong to you and the kids.
Again, I mean it when I say I'm sorry. You are a kind, decent man who deserved someone a lot better than me. I hope that someday you'll find someone who gives you the kind of love and committment that I wasn't able to give. And as for the kids ... I gave them a lot of very good years before I went haywire. I hope that someday they're able to remember that.
* * * * * *
Message I posted on one of the Divorce & Separation boards, in a folder entitled "Effect Of Divorce on Kids":
Subject: "I Have No Mother"
Date: 01 Sep 1997 22:32:47 EDT
I recently left my husband of fifteen years and our three children, ages 15, 14 and 11, and started a new life in a neighboring state.
This was not a decision I made lightly. I was a devoted mother for many years. I adore my children. Responsibility for the failure of my marriage is fairly equally divided, yet I decided (for many complicated reasons, primarily related to finances and my emotional/physical health) that the children are better off with their father. It breaks my heart, but it's the decision that seemed best for all concerned: my soon-to-be-ex agrees.
The two youngest children are coping with this fairly well ... we all saw it coming, I think... but my fifteen year old daughter is simply awash with rage. Each day she sends me positively venomous e-mails and leaves me angry messages on the telephone answering machine. This morning she wrote that she considers me to be dead. "I have no mother," she said.
Regardless of my reasons for -- or methods of -- ending a disastrous marriage, I still love all three of my children completely and unconditionally. I'm just wondering how I should deal with the eldest. Would it be better to continue, as I have been, to answer her tirades with quiet, non-combative, gently loving replies (which somehow just seem to fuel her anger even further) ... or to back off and not reply to her at all for awhile?
And a message board reply I received the next day:
Subject: Re: "I Have No Mother"
Date: 03 Sep 1997 12:53:09 EDT
My friend. I battle the same in this household.. the anger that I see inside of my oldest daughter is unreal... and I feel for her... I am remaining quiet..like you..and loving.. not speaking against the soon to be ex-spouse..
I think that would make things worse...for all of us. I believe she shall come around... if not now...then later...she has enough dragons of her own that she is battling...high school..body changes.. ALL the
time.... trust in yourself as a good mother... it will work.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For a few days I didn't hear anything from the kids ... particularly Kyle. My heart was seriously starting to break ... but I didn't want them to know it, still trying to keep things upbeat as much as possible.
To: Daughter #2, Son #Only
Still thinking about you guys ... still missing you a lot.
Drop me a line one of these days and let me know how school's going.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Excerpts of an e-mail I wrote this morning (9/7/97):
I have to admit to something that surprises me, a little.
When Ray & the Tots & I moved into the TicTac house, almost exactly eight years ago this week, I swore that I would "never ever EVER" live in an apartment again.
There were so many things I hated about apartment life. I always said it felt like living in an ANT COLONY. The sound of footsteps and swishing toilets over my head at night ... needing to be "mindful" at all times of how loud I was playing my stereo or TV ... the lack of privacy ... the bazillion-mile walk to the DUMPSTER ... those stoopid "Community Newsletters" that dumbshit apartment managers always feel compelled to crank out on the Xerox machine ("Please! No smoking on the playground without adult supervision!") ... I hated all of that.
I wanted "space" and "privacy" and "quiet" and all the other stuff that comes with living in a house ... and I got it, when we finally moved into the house after three years of "suffering" in the ant colony.
It felt like moving into a PALACE.
I figured that if I ever wound up in an APARTMENT again, I might as well just climb to the fourth floor and hurl myself over the balcony, because life simply wouldn't be worth living anymore.
So how surprised am *I* to discover ... that apartment-dwelling again isn't COMPLETELY horrible?!
For one thing, I guess ... this is Podunk, OR, not the crappy seedy Southside of TicTac. No teenagers sitting on the steps in front of the manager's office, smoking crack out of an empty cardboard toilet paper roll. No Ice-T "music" floating from the second floor at 3 a.m. No GANG WARS breaking out in the parking lot.
We leave our DOORS UNLOCKED at night, forcryingoutloud.
And it's so quiet ............. sometimes I shut everything off --- the dishwasher, the stereo, the air purifier <--- (like we need one of those in OREGANO) and just sit here and "listen" to the quiet. No highway noises. No airport noises. No noisy daycare noises in my backyard. I think the neighbors must all be sedated because I never ever hear them doing ANYTHING.
The quiet is so palpable, you could grab it and wrap it around yourself and fall asleep in it, like an old blanket.
In another few days it will doubtless drive me stark-raving out of my MIND, of coarse. But for right now it's oddly soothing.
AND. There is the fact that it's such a small apartment ... and thus, easy to keep neat & tidy. In five minutes I can have it looking *prefect.* (*I* who DESPISE housework in all forms am suddenly finding myselves carefully cleaning out the miniature microwave .... polishing the miniature shower doors .... running the vacuum cleaner over the miniature living room carpet ... and then standing there BEAMING at my miniature handiwork ...)
The only thing that really gnaws at me about the apartment at the moment, I think ... is the fact that it's all about "him."
With very few exceptions -- the handful of souvenirs and photos tacked to the bulletin board above the 'puter (including "Fabulous Harmonies Played By The Yama Mama Man," "Hoboken's Brightest Star! Frank Sinatra," "This Vehicle Is CB 'Radio' Active!," The Bobos Meet EdKaz in NY, Feef in Hat, Bottle on Venice Beach), my library books on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, my pitiful two blouses and one pair of pants hanging in the closet -- there is almost nothing of "me" in this apartment.
This is something I hope to change, soon. Tim has promised me that we can drive up to TicTac, the weekend of the 26th, and pick up some of my stuff. I've already talked to the A.H. and the Tots about it, and I guess they've packed up most of the belongings I specified and have them stored in the garage, waiting for me. I think I might feel better when I'm surrounded by some of *my* own things. Grandma's antique canning jars. Photos of the Tots. My books. My music. My UNDERWEAR. (Sigh)
I don't know if this place is ever gonna really feel like "home" ... but having some of my own stuff around me might help.
(So will having some of my OWN MONEY ... but that's a whole 'nother story.)
Anyway. The "vaguely" depressing part -- unless the above has already "gotten you there" -- is something I was thinking about yesterday, whilst we were driving around the Oregano countryside.
A song came on the radio ... it was by Blues Traveller, but I don't have the faintest idea what it was called (they tend not to "identify" anything they play on the radio here: grrrrr) but it was really long and melodic and somewhat haunting in countenance. I just sat there on the passenger side of the "Jimmy," watching hills and trees and rivers rolling past ... and all of a sudden I found myself
Mind you: crying has become something of a round-the-clock occurrence, as of late. I've always been good at it, but the past week I've turned it into an ART FORM. Anything & everything can set it off, although the main *triggers* at the moment are:
* TV advertisements for school clothes/supplies
* Anything Princess Di-related. ("Why are they deifying her?," he asked me yesterday in disgust. But I digress.)
* Blue and white houses
* Grocery stores
* Mail trucks
* Help Wanted Classified Ads
* Shopping malls
* Ice cream cones
* Airplane "vapor trails" in the sky
* Checking my e-mail
* Neutrogena shampoo
* Chinese restaurants
* Athletic shoes
* Kids on bicycles
At any rate ... this song was playing on the radio, and all of a sudden I spun off into another one of those Melon Collie moments that ocur when I least expect them ...
...and I did what I always do: I started writing e-mail in my head.
In my head I wrote:
"I don't even know who I am anymore.
In the past seven days, I have managed to un-become so many things.
I'm no longer actively:
* Customer Service Manager/Employee/Co-worker
* *Cyber Princess*
* Person-I-Was-A-Week Ago.
Who the fuck *am* I now??"
Pretty pathetic, huh?
A few miles later, though, I was reviewing my "list" in my head, and it occurred to me that all of the stuff I'm "not" anymore were all things that describe me in relation to OTHER people, which I found interesting (and vaguely disturbing).
It wasn't a moment of grand epiphany or anything ... but I just thought it was sorta "telling," in a way.
I guess if I'm going to be anybody or anything from now on, I'm going to have to do it pretty much by myself. The idea of this scares and hurts me, but I don't see that I have a lot of choice.
Talk to you soon.
* * * * * * * ** * ** * * * * *
Another very welcome e-mail from Kyle.
Date: 97-09-06 00:57:56 EDT
From: Son #Only
hay !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! your number doesn't except collect calls! I've tried callen ya but I coudn't get a answer. if you check your mail tonight give me a call.
love your son
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My reply to Kyle.
To: Son #Only
You have no idea how happy I was to wake up this morning (Saturday, Sept. 6) and find your e-mails waiting for me!!!!!!!!! I honestly figured you were on the "Mom Is An Evil Bitch" side of things.
I've missed you more than you can possibly imagine!!!
Sorry I wasn't online last night. I'd had a pretty long day, and I wound up watching a Pay-Per-View movie ("National Lampoon's Las Vegas Vacation," or whatever it's called) and falling asleep early.
I'm not online as much as I used to be, and when I am, I'm usually just trying to figure out the Internet. I talk to a few people still, like Edmund and Robbin and River, but mostly I keep to myself pretty much.
Speaking of computers ... now that you guys are in charge of the computer there at home, there are some things you should do to maintain it. Once a week or so, you should go all the way out to the DOS prompt (where the screen is black except for c:\ .... yeah OK, you know this already) and type the word "defrag." That'll get rid of a lot of excess files that clutter up the system. The other thing I tried to do once a week --- again, from the DOS prompt --- is either type the word "chkdsk" or "scandsk" (I can never remember which one, but try them both and the computer will tell you which one to use). This does much the same thing as the defrag program, but it does it a little more thoroughly.
You should also run the anti-virus program every once in awhile, especially if you're downloading programs from AOL. Your anti-virus program is called "Norton Anti-Virus," and you can either start it by double-clicking the icon (I think it has its own program group in Windows) or by merely turning the computer off & on and letting it run.
If you guys need extra room on the hard drive, you can delete a lot of my programs/clip art/fonts/etc. Let me know and I'll give you a list of stuff you can get rid of that won't screw up the rest of the programs.
If you have any sort of technical problems with the computer or the printer, Randy has offered to help in any way he can, so feel free to write to him. He knows all about our situation, and he knows how important it is to me that we keep the computers running smoothly on both ends so we can keep in contact with each other.
As far as calling collect is concerned, I have a feeling that the problem is probably on your end. We get collect calls from Tim's son all the time. I'll talk to him about it tonight when he gets home from work & see if we can get you a phone card. Then I'll e-mail you the numbers and you can call whenever is convenient for you, OK?
By the way, you should know that we're coming up to Seattle the weekend of Sept. 26th to pick up some of my stuff and (hopefully) to spend some time with you & whoever else still wants to see me. We'll drive up that Friday morning -- it takes about three or four hours -- and we'll leave to come back on Sunday morning. So that gives us a couple of days. Thought maybe we could spend Saturday together, doing whatever you want to do. Let me know if you have any good ideas.
Anyway ... I guess I'd better get off the computer. Thank you so much for writing to me, Mook. I know you're in a pretty rotten position right now ... right in the middle of the Mom and Dad Wars ... but I want you to know that no matter what happens, I'm always going to love you, and I will always be here for you. Distance and circumstances can't change that fact, ever.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
List of Library Books I Checked Out From The Gladstone Public Library this week:
* "Net Guide: Your Complete Guide to the Internet & Online Services." (My favorite *find* so far ... "Hacker Barbie's Dream Basement Apartment.")
* Dean Koontz, "Strange Highways" (anthology)
* "Women Who Run With The Wolves" (I found it!!)
* "Meeting At The Crossroads: The Landmark Tunring Points In Girls' and Women's Lives," Lyn Mikel Brown & Carol Gilligan
* "Long Distance Parenting: A Guide For Divorced Parents"
* "Answers: A Divorce/Separation Survival Handbook"
* "Divorcing: The Complete Guide For Men And Women"
* "Mars and Venus: Together Forever, Relationship Skills For Lasting Love"
(You should have seen the look on the sweet little old librarian's face when I plopped THIS collection of reading material onto the counter ... and then had to ask Tim to fill out my new library card because *I* couldn't remember my new address ...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, I suppose that's about all the news that's fit to print for the moment.
Just one more thing I really wanted to address, and that was the following comment in your e-mail yesterday:
"It's been so long since I've heard that I'm sure they've sided me with you and I really don't know what to say if and when I do talk to them. I really don't want to alienate my grandchildren at this point when I might be needed at some point in the future."
I understand this, and I apologize for my earlier attempts to drag you into the middle of it (and my unfair request that you barge over there and "claim" my stuff for me ... that was before I'd talked to anyone, and I had visions of 20+ years' worth of journals and scrapbooks going up in a great big bonfire on the WEBBER).
All I really want or need, I guess, is to just have you to talk to.
I also understand that it's incredibly rude, self-absorbed and typically me-me-me to come running to you only when I *need* you ... especially considering how distant and snooty I've been recently. (Will you believe me if I tell you that I've learned a lesson here? And that in a bizarre way I feel closer to my family, you most especially included, right now, than I have in over a year -- geographic distance notwithstanding?)
It's like that e-mail I was writing in my head yesterday, I think. All of a sudden I'm forced to reinvent who I am ... and one of the things I believe I would like to *be,* from now on ... is your daughter.
Talk to you soon.
Love you a bunch.
Letters to Kyle & Kacie; long funny *e* from Edmund
Subj: Re: gkhdibuiubduhbldfdjgh
To: Son #Only
>> don't come this weekend, I don't think dad is ready <<
I said the weekend of the 26th -- that's a couple of weekends from now, and it's the soonest that Tim can get enough time off from work to make the drive.
I talked to Dad on the phone while you were still on your rafting trip, and he seemed to be OK with the idea of me coming & getting my stuff, just so long as he had "a couple of days advance notice."
The only things I asked for were things that belong to me, like my clothes, my tapes & CD's, my office stuff, etc. I hope this isn't going to suddenly turn out to be a problem. By the way, can you look through all the video tapes and make sure that all of the Edmund videos get thrown in with the rest of my things? I'll probably ask you to check on some other stuff, the closer we get to that weekend.
It's perfectly understandable that Dad is going to go through all kinds of different emotions. Some days he's going to want my head on a plate, and other days he's just going to be sort of sad. I hope that you're giving him lots of love and support, Kyle. There's no law anywhere that says a kid can't love both of his parents, even though they're not together anymore. You're not being "disloyal to Dad" by talking to me on the computer or on the phone (or by seeing me when I come to Seattle at the end of the month) ... and you're certainly not being "disloyal" to ME by standing by Dad and giving him emotional support through this tough time. But I think you probably know all of this already.
I'll probably write more a little later. It's early Sunday morning, and the coffee hasn't really kicked in yet. I'll be hanging around online for most of the day ... I have some job-hunting stuff to do, and I also want to write to Kacie & to Grandma Beeson this morning.
Thinking about you a lot today.
Love you --
P.S. Did you notice that I took the Mother's Day picture off the bulletin board and brought it with me? You know, the one of you in the little gold heart-shaped frame? It's hanging on the (new) bulletin board above the computer I'm using right now. I look at it constantly. *
Subj: Sunday A.M.
To: Daughter #2
Beautiful, sunny Sunday morning here. Someday, when things settle down a little, I'll have to tell you more about Oregon ... "the land of Dockers & ducks," as I call it. (I swear to God EVERYBODY here wears DOCKERS. Even the teenagers. It's bizarre.)
How is everything? I heard from Kyle over the weekend, which was great, but I still haven't heard how school is going for either one of you. How are you liking Tyee?
I also heard that Jaymi is still screaming about the money she thinks I took from her. I know that no amount of denial on my part is ever going to make her believe otherwise ... but I would like you and Kyle to believe me when I say I did not take it .... because that's the truth. I arrived here with the few dollars I had remaining from my next-to-last paycheck ... and that is ALL.
Tim has offered me spending money a couple of times, but I always say "No thanks ... I would rather earn it myself."
Jaymi's anger towards me, and towards the fact that I left, needed a "focus." Blaming me for her missing money gives her something concrete to be angry about. I expect she'll carry that anger around with her for a very long time: that's just the way she is. If she someday chooses to forgive me for leaving & to believe me when I tell her that I didn't steal her money, fine. If not: I will always love her anyway. Unconditionally, whole-heartedly and forever. That's just the way *I* am.
Anyway, write to me whenever you get the chance. I love hearing from you guys, and I will always try to respond as quickly as I can. And don't forget, I'll be coming up the weekend of the 26th, to pick up my stuff and to (hopefully) spend some time with you and Kyle ... and anyone else who wants to see me.
Love you a bunch. My shower awaits.
Letters to Kyle & Kacie, re: Oregon
Subj: The River
To: Son #Only
You've spent some time in Oregon this past year, so you already know how beautiful and peaceful it is here.
I live just a few blocks from the Clackamas River. There's a particular spot, on a high wooded bank overlooking the river, where I like to sit & think. It's quiet there ... no airport noises, no traffic noises ... just me and the berry bushes and the bees and the ducks and the water below.
I think that when I finish my job-hunting stuff this afternoon, I'm going to hike over to the river and sit there for awhile and think about you and the girls.
I miss you.
I was desperately trying to keep the tone of my e-mails light and friendly; I didn't want the Tots to know how miserable I was.
Subj: Teenagers In OREGON
To: Daughter #2
Not only do all the teenagers in Gladstone, Oregon wear DOCKERS ...
... they ALL hang out at the Dairy Queen across the highway, apparently.
I walked over to DQ the other night to get a Peanut Buster Parfait (only $1.39), and there must have been a bazillion teenagers there, standing around in the parking lot, out in front. Most of them were wearing Dockers shorts, T-shirts and either sandals with socks or else hiking boots with socks. The girls all wore pony tails and the guys all had baseball caps on ... frontwards. Someone had a car stereo playing, tuned to 94.7 (a local version of The End) but it wasn't very loud: maybe they were afraid one of the TWO police officers in town might cruise by and cite them for breaking curfew or disturbing the peace or something ...
This is one VERY weird little town.
E-mail to Kyle (re: my trip to Seattle)
Subj: Thursday Morning
To: Son #Only
How are you? I wanted to write something to you yesterday (Wednesday), but when I got up in the morning the computer was dead! Acck! Finally managed to get it running, but by then it was time for me to get started on the job-hunting stuff.
I've sent resumes to six companies this week, and I have another three to mail today. It's amazing how many job opportunities there are in this little tiny town. I hope to be working within a week or two.
It looks like we might be coming to Seattle a week earlier than planned ... the weekend of the 19th (next weekend) instead of the 26th. I'll let you know for sure within the next couple of days. In the meantime, I would really like to talk to you on the phone before I come up. Any chance we can do some "phone" this weekend? You tell me a good time to reach you, and I'll call, OK?
Things here are mostly OK, but I'm homesick for Seattle & I miss you guys more than you can imagine. Please drop me a line whenever you get a chance, or let me know when I can call. Who's your teacher this year? Who is in your class? Are you liking sixth grade?
Time to go ... we've got some running around to do today (it's Tim's day off) and I need to finish the last two resumes so I can mail them while we're out. I love you very, VERY much, and I can't wait to talk to you & see you again. Give my love to your sisters, and give Ichabod a big hug for me.
Subj: Friday Morning
To: Daughter #2
I talked to Kyle for a little while on the phone yesterday afternoon, did he tell you? You were sleeping, I guess ... it was around 4 p.m. or so. It was great hearing his voice, and hearing that things are going fairly OK there.
I'm going to be running around for a bit today, but I'll try and catch up with you later this afternoon ... I have some questions for you, mostly about school & the family. (One thing, though: Kyle says that my bulletin board -- and all of the AOL stuff that was on it -- is gone. What happened to it? You guys didn't throw away all those postcards and photos, did you?)
I miss you and think about you a lot, sweetie. Talk to you soon.
Funny little e-mail from my son.
Subj: helleo again
Date: 97-09-13 23:04:16 EDT
From: Son #Only
hay! how the hell are ya? I have been kind of busy lately. you know goen to friends houses goen to soccor games that kind a stuff. and tonight I'm going to rock(n)bowl. you know you pay eleven dollars and you get a free coke and a free piece of pizza and you can bowl as many games as you want. I just felt the need to I.M. you well its 8:00 p.M. and it dont start till 11:30 so if you get my mail by then I.M. me cause I'll be on till then. By the way I kicked I mean kissed Icho bod for ya. Well actualy i huged him because i'm not in to that sentamentle shit.
well see ya
My mom's response to the marathon e-mail I sent her earlier.
Subj: Re: Bits & *Peaces*
Date: 97-09-13 12:03:05 EDT
Got your phone message when I got home last night--too late to call. I haven't heard a word from the AH or any of the tots since they got word that I was communicating with you.
Your sister says that Daughter #2 is (according to her sister) getting more deeply into the "cult" of Rainbow. Not a bad place for her to be at this point. Daughter #1 is still working and Son#O is employed (with the help of the AH) as the groundkeeper for the doctor and his wife :-).
Deb is trying to keep her presence in the family and her eyes on the kids. She's righteously indignant (my words, not hers) about your choice to leave but in her heart of hearts, she understands more than she'll let on right now.
Hope you're OK--looking forward to hearing from you when you get to town. We'll find some time to get together. Keep me posted if you hear from the folks in TicTac.
Another long e-mail written to my mother
Subj: Saturday Afternoon Stuff
Date: 97-09-13 18:02:53 EDT
In a message dated 97-09-13 12:03:05 EDT, you write:
<< Got your phone message when I got home last night--too late to call. I haven't heard a word from the AH or any of the tots since they got word that I was communicating with you. >>
I tried calling a few more times after I left you the phone message last night, but there was no answer, which I found very strange. Eventually I gave up & went to bed. The phone here rang a couple of times around 1 a.m., but whoever it was didn't leave a message.
I've been hanging around online most of the afternoon, waiting to see if one of The Tots signs on. My policy generally is that I'm never the one to initiate a conversation online -- I never know who might be "lurking" nearby -- but if they throw a pebble at my cyber window, then I'll drop everything & talk to them. I'm hoping that Kacie or Kyle will sign on this afternoon and let me know whether or not I'm still supposed to "call" or not ... and maybe give me some sort of indication of what's going on. I'm sorta hesitant to call without having any clue what the subject matter is going to be ... y'know? We'll just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.
I talked to Kyle on the phone the other day, by the way ... did I tell you? It was sublime. We actually giggled a few times. Kyle & I are going to be OK, I think. As far as the girls are concerned ... again, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
[Basically my entire life is a "wait and see what happens" proposition at the moment.
Tim had the last two days off. We went for long drives all around the Oregon countryside, shopped for kitchen stuff at the Clackamas Mall, went to the library again (I came home with another armload of books about 1.) divorce law 2.) the Internet, my new passion 3.) women's development, including an EXTREMELY cool book called "Women of the West") and hung around the apartment talking about where we go from here.
We both seem to agree that the priorities right now are:
* Getting me employed. I have my first interview next week, for a secretarial position at a (get this) residential/day treatment "adolescent facility." Hmmm. On the plus side, it's a 5-10 minute bus ride from the apartment: on the minus side, the pay sucks. I have other resumes floating around town, though.
* Getting up to Seattle and rescuing my clothes & personal belongings from the bonfire ... not to mention (even more importantly, of course) seeing whoever is interested in seeing The Prodigal Mom.
* Tim's knee surgery.
* Trying to figure out what the heck Ray is up to, legally ... and making sure I'm not a sitting target for whatever he may be cooking up.
Anyway, Tim had to go back to work this afternoon and he won't be home until late tonight. I'm gonna goof around online for another hour or so, until the laundry's done, and then I'll walk over to the river, as I do every day, and sit in "My Secret Spot" for awhile, feeding the ducks and thinking. In spite of the muddled circumstances of my life, I am feeling amazingly clear-headed these days. Oregon has been like a balm for my soul. I imagine you understand what I'm saying ... and those who don't understand it right now, well ... I can't do much about that.
OK, off I go. Thanks for the updates on the tots, and for always answering my e-mail. Talk to you soon.
Letters to Kyle, Mom & Robbin ... long & newsy
Subj: Re: helleo again
What a sweet, tender, loving little e-mail. LOL.
Actually, I was online for most of the afternoon yesterday, using my "other" screen name ... mostly checking out weird websites ("The Most Fucked-Up Person Alive Tells All Home Page" ... "The Squishy Bearz Home Page" ...) and looking for employment information. At 7:00 I turned off the computer, though, and watched TV for the rest of the evening: didn't get your e-mail until after you'd already left for Rock & Bowl.
Your dad called me from work last night, around 8:30 or so. Guess he just wanted to know when we'll be coming up to Seattle. Right now we still haven't decided for sure whether it will be next weekend or the weekend after that: we'll make the final decision later today. Mostly it's up to Tim, and when he feels like making the drive. (He's going to be having surgery on his knees sometime in the next few weeks, and a long drive can be sort of hard on him.) It really doesn't make a lot of difference to me -- whenever is most convenient for YOU guys is fine with me -- except, of course, that I'm anxious to see you ... AND it would be nice to have some of my clothes, especially now that I'm trying to find a job and everything.
It's pouring down rain here this morning. Tim works all day today, so I've got the apartment to myself. I'm going to walk over to Winchell's a little later this morning and get a newspaper and a latte, and then I'll probably spend the rest of the day writing e-mail to all the people who think I've totally forgotten them.
I have a couple of computer-related "favors" to ask you to do for me, btw. I'll write to you about it, later today ... some of it is a little complicated, so I'll probably send you the instructions and ask you to print them out, to make them easier to follow. Think you can handle it?
Anyway, gotta go grab a shower & get dressed & get my day started. Look for more e-mail later. How was bowling?
Subj: The Folks In TicTac
Sunday morning. Tim left for work at 6 a.m. and I've been online ever since, trying to catch up on my e-mail. He'll be home early this afternoon and we're going to go grocery shopping, but until then I've got the run of the place ... AND the run of the computer. (How interesting to be living with a fellow computer junkie, by the way ...)
Got a cute note from Kyle last night. Profanity aside -- (he learned from the best, dammit!) -- it sounds to me like he's working to keep his emotions balanced ... letting me know that he misses me, while at the same time reassuring me that he's still full of the same old piss & vinegar. I miss him like crazy, of course, but I think I am less worried about him than about anyone else in that household.
And I finally spoke to Ray last night. I walked into the bedroom around 8:30 p.m., just in time to hear his exasperated voice on the answering machine, saying "HELLO TERRI ARE YOU GONNA CALL RAY OR WHAT ?" Grabbed the phone before he had a chance to hang up -- he was calling me from work, I guess -- we spoke for about five minutes, more or less amicably. He SAYS that the only reason he was calling was because he wanted to know when I'm coming to Seattle to get my stuff, but I suspect there are other issues on the agenda. He wants me to call him sometime this afternoon, and we'll see what else he's got percolating in that head of his.
Well, that's all for now. I'm going to throw some clothes on and walk over to Winchell's for a Sunday newspaper. Talk to you soon.
Subj: Re: hello
As always, I'm sorry to be so darned elusive lately. I'm hoping that it's only temporary, and that once I feel more "settled-in" here, I'll find a way to balance the new life with the old friends more evenly.
For one thing, my online time has been dramatically curtailed since I moved here ... primarily because I'm now living, for the first time, with a fellow computer junkie/cyber addict (sorta reminds me of the early Bobo Days, when you & Steve were sharing one AOL account ...
). We're trying to figure out ways to equitably share the computer & the online time, but right now his idea of "sharing" is happily pulling up a chair beside me and watching absolutely everything I do online. (Acckk.) Obviously this *system* needs some work. :o\
Also, a lot of the time when I AM online, I'm off exploring the *wonders* of the Internet. God, Robbin: I'm like a little kid with a brand-new TOY. It's a whole new world for me ... I LOVE it ... I could probably spend all day cruising from one ridiculous pointless site to another ... but then again it's a pretty solitary pursuit, and doesn't allow for much contact with others. This will probably change, once some of the "newness" of it wears off.
And of course when Tim's not working, we're doing other, non-computer-related "stuff" (and no, I don't just mean *THAT*). We like to drive around & explore the Oregon countryside, or wander the local malls shopping for kitchen gadgets or computer hardware ... or else we just sit here at home and watch TV and talk, or walk a few blocks over to the Clackamas River and sit by the water and watch the sunset ... all very nice and sweet and NEW for me, this business of actively sharing my life & my time with someone ...
It's not a total "honeymoon," of course. In our haste to get together we didn't have much of a chance to discover the differences between us, and now those"differences" are beginning to manifest themselves. Nothing insurmountable, yet ... mostly things like our taste in music and movies ... certain mannerisms/cultural differences we've got to adjust to ... I've sunk into one of my silent, moody depressions on him, once or twice, and we sorta had to work through THAT ... etc. I still can't honestly tell you whether this is "The One," or whether we'll even still be together six months or a year from now ... but he's very special to me, no doubt about that. I love him. He loves me. We've got a chance, I think.
Jaymi is still not speaking to me, but I hear from Kacie & Kyle nearly every day, either via e-mail or i.m. I can't call as often as I would like, but once or twice a week I get a huge craving to hear their voices and we talk for a couple of sneaky wonderful minutes.
I also talked to Ray on the phone last night -- he called to see when I'm coming up to Seattle to get my clothes & stuff -- we talked for a few minutes, and it sounded like things are going as well as can be expected. My main source of "family news," actually, is Mom. She sends me e-mail three or four times a week and brings me up-to-date on what everybody is doing. According to her, Ray is running the house with an Iron Fist right now ... Mr. "Super Dad," making sure that everyone does their homework & is home by a certain time every night & stuff like that. I always secretly felt that if I ever left, the four of them would pull together & make things work, and I guess it turns out I was right.
My main goal right now is to GET EMPLOYED. Money worries are absolutely consuming me at the moment ... I just spent my last $1.25 this morning on a Sunday paper ... I feel a huge financial responsibility to the kids, I should be contributing financially here to Tim, AND I know I need legal help pretty soon. I've got resumes floating all over the immediate area (two call backs so far) and I'm going to take the first semi-decent offer that comes my way, period.
Anyway, Tim just got home from work and I'm going to *let* him sign on and check his mail. I'll try and get back on a little later, and maybe we can chat. I'm glad to hear that things are OK on your end ... care to elaborate, a little?
Talk to you soon.
One of those irritating *Dad wants you to call* messages ... plus "nutten bot love for ya"
Subj: : )
Date: 97-09-21 00:19:15 EDT
From: Son #Only
yo mom hows it doen? anyways dad wants you to call either tonight or tomorrow afternoon.
nutten bot love for ya
Quick e-mail sent to Kyle before l left for Seattle.
To: Son #Only
It's 6:30 a.m., Friday morning, and we're going to be leaving for Seattle in an hour & a half or so ... should probably get there around lunch time. Looks like we won't be staying overnight, after all, but if you've got some time after school (or if you want to get out an hour early or something), we can go run around for awhile this afternoon? I know you've got your Open House tonight -- Dad mentioned it on the phone -- but at least we could go grab some food & talk for awhile.
Leave me a note in the laundry room before you take off for school this morning, or send an e-mail back to this screen name & I'll check it when I'm there. See ya later.
Disappointed that I couldn't spend more time with Kyle while I was in town.
To: Son #Only
It was great seeing you yesterday, even if it was only for a few minutes ... but I want you to know that I was VERY disappointed that we couldn't spend more time together (and disappointed also that I didn't even get to see either one of the girls).
I promise that one way or another I'll get back up to Seattle at least once in October ... and then maybe we can think about shipping you down here for Thanksgiving weekend? What would you think about that idea?
The drive back was a nightmare. Every few minutes the rain would start again & traffic would slow to a crawl. On top of everything else, Tim decided that he absolutely HAD to have Taco Time before we left Washington State, so every time we saw another exit that seemed "promising" - Federal Way, Milton, Centralia - we would get off the freeway and look for one. We've got Taco Time here in Oregon, but the food is completely differently here. It doesn't even taste the same at all. For one thing, they don't put sour cream in the soft tacos .. they use some kind of weird salsa with a lot of vinegar in it. And everything else just tastes "different," from the meat to the tortillas they use. Anyway, we spent at least an hour's worth of driving time merely looking for a *$#@ Taco Time ... finally found one in Chehalis ... stuffed our faces and then got back on the road, forty minutes later. It was almost 8 p.m. before we finally got back to the apartment, we were both exhausted (we'd been up since 5 a.m.) but TIM insisted that we cart all of my boxes of stuff inside, right then & there. Now they (the boxes) are sitting smack dab in the middle of the living room, all piled in a heap. I know it's going to take me the entire weekend to sort through them & find places for the stuff I decide to keep. (Mind you ... this is a VERY small apartment.) But at least that'll give me something to do.
Anyway, going to blast this off to you and get started on my day. How's the computer running today? I couldn't believe how much junk you guys had managed to accumulate on the hard drive in just one month!! Sheeeesh!! I have a couple of little defragmenting things I think you should do, sometime this weekend ... I'll send the instructions in a separate e-mail ... they're really simple, but they'll help the computer run a lot faster, I guarantee you.
I'll talk to you very soon. Give the girls a hello from mom.
I love you.
The JEWELRY BOX Fiasco. Accccck. It begins with an e-mail from my mom:
Subj: Re: The Folks In TicTac
Date: 97-09-28 11:28:27 EDT
This is my Sunday morning and I'm wondering what happened to you on Friday. I waited till nearly 4:30, still hoping you'd show up.
Jaymi called me, nearly hysterical because you had taken the jewelry box (yours?/hers?). It contained the jewelry you borrowed from Debi for your trip to the Caribbean, which Jaymi had promised to return to Deb, as well as a pair of earrings she borrowed from a classmate to wear to the homecoming dance.
Whatever else you do or don't do, you need to get the jewelry back up here so it can be returned to its owners. If there's something I can do to help with that, let me know. Either Express mail or insured UPS would be a good idea.
I love you and I'd like to hear from you.
Subj: Re: hi
To: Daughter #2
In a message dated 97-09-27 17:30:59 EDT, you write:
<< hi mom. jaymi wants 2 know if you still have her film or pictures or whatever they are and were her jelwery that was in your blue box in our room is cuz some of it was debis and shannas. shes upset cuz her homecoming jelwery was in it. write me back soon k- cuz dad and debi are mad 2 now.="-)">
I think the operative statement here is "... HER jewelry that was in YOUR blue box in OUR room."
First of all ... why was MY blue box in "HER" room in the first place? I think I have just as much of a right to be annoyed here as anyone, but I decided not to make a big deal out of it. I was in a hurry, I saw something that belongs to me & that I want to keep, sitting in your room, and I grabbed it. I wasn't committing a felony here.
The contents of the blue box are as follows:
1. Pearl necklace or choker of some kind. Probably a Homecoming item.
2. Broken gold-toned necklace chain.
3. Silver necklace/choker with black onyx setting, originally Aunt Debi's, loaned to me for my trip to Bonaire. Also matching earrings.
4. Small gold watch originally belonging to MY Grandma V., given to ME.
5. Small guitar-shaped pin, originally belonging to MY Grandma V., given to ME.
6. Gold lattice ring, purchased by ME (from Avon, in the early 80's), for ME.
7. Four different-sized hoop earrings, none matching, one broken, one w/o a back.
8. One small pin shaped like a mouse wearing glasses, Christmas present to ME in the mid 1970's from a FRIEND.
9. One pearl & gold earring, part of a set I purchased for MYSELF a couple of years ago.
10. One small pin shaped like a little guy playing an accordion: I've had this pin since I was in third grade.
11. One pair of drop earrings, silver and pearl. I assume these are part of the Homecoming ensemble, since everything else in the blue box is either mine or else is crap.
Notice I don't even make a big deal out of the fact that, when I got there on Friday, both of my jewelry boxes -- and EVERYTHING in them -- had mysteriously *vanished*?
This afternoon I will put the pearl necklace & earrings and the Aunt Debi jewelry into the mail and send them back to Jaymi ... but I owe her no apology for reclaiming something that not only belongs to me but was ALSO specified in my original list of stuff I wanted back.
So what is DAD mad about? He sat right there on the loveseat while I moved my things out, and I asked him if it was OK if I went into your room. He said fine. I said, "I will only take things that belong to me," and then I SHOWED him everything that I brought out, including a whole bunch of **MY** CD's. He seemed to have no problem with it then, so if he's upset now it's because Jaymi is leading him to believe that I "stole" a bunch of jewelry from her ... the same way she's attempting to make everybody believe I "stole" a bunch of money from her. I'm not interested in playing these dumb hurtful little games with her, and from conversations I've had with your father, I doubt that he is, either.
I'm not mad at you. I'm not mad at Jaymi either, for that matter. I love all three of you kids equally and unconditionally, whether you choose to believe it or not. But like I said, I'm not going to get sucked into little baby games over each & every issue that comes along.
Talk to you later.
This is the letter I included when I mailed Daughter #1's jewelry back to her:
Don't throw this letter away.
You may not feel like reading it right now ... or tomorrow, or next week, or next year, for that matter ... but there may come a day, believe it or not, when you do feel as though you can get all the way through a letter from your Mom without wanting to kill her totally dead.
I don't expect you to ever fully forgive me for leaving. I know I never completely forgave my mother for doing the same thing, not even when I was old enough to understand why she did it.
I only hope that someday you can look at the big picture and understand that it had nothing to do with you, or with Kacie or Kyle, or even with Dad, for that matter. It was all about my own weakness ... my stupid "mid-life crisis" or "clinical depression" (or whatever else you want to call it) ...
... and the fact that I just never was able to get over the stuff that happened earlier this year.
I'm still not over it. I doubt that I ever will be.
I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. Interestingly enough, 99% of them have occurred in the last year, beginning that morning when you & Justin put me on a plane to Bonaire. If I could go back in time ....
... I would probably do it all over again. Sigh. That's what makes me the screwed-up mess I am, I guess. I would do it all over again, except that I would PROBABLY be expecting things to turn out *better* this time. It's like watching "The Last Of The Mohicans" for the bazillionth time ... still hopeful that Alice isn't gonna step off the edge of that cliff ... but knowing that there's no way to stop her ...
I did not take your money. The truth is -- I didn't even know, that day, that you had any money, or I very well may have tried to come up with a way to scheme some of it out of you. I arrived in Oregon with the remains of my second-to-last paycheck from CNG and a laundry basket filled with a few of my clothes, some cassettes and a box of computer disks.
Once I start working, I fully intend to help Dad & you kids out financially -- and any other way you may want, need or accept my help.
And I did not take your Homecoming jewelry away from you on purpose: that was an unfortunate accident, and I'm returning it to you now in hopes that it reaches you in time for the dance ... and that you have a wonderful time.
Whatever else you choose to believe in this sad, silly, screwed-up situation ... please believe that I still and always love you with my whole heart. I will always be here for you.
I started to feel bad about the e-mail I sent Kacie, so I followed up with this:
To: Daughter #2
I am genuinely sorry that I keep doing things to upset all of you.
I should have checked the contents of the jewelry box when I was packing on Friday ... but there just wasn't time & I was under a lot of pressure. I just tossed it into a box with a few of my other things, grabbed the stuff you guys had already packed for me (thanks), did some work on the computer and then left.
Jaymi is determined to hate me, no matter what I do, but you can let her know that her jewelry is on its way back to her. I won't even ask what happened to some of *my* things ... because it just isn't worth it.
If it makes anyone feel any better, though ... I am absolutely miserable here, incredibly homesick for all of you, and wishing like hell this had never happened.
It felt like all I did was apologize.
Subj: Re: The Folks In TicTac
Sorry about Friday. What a fucked-up-all-the-way-around day THAT proved to be.
First I had to spend two and a half hours under Ray's mournful, watchful eye, moving as much of my stuff out of the house as would fit into the truck (and even so, I walked away leaving a good three-quarters of my worldly possessions behind, not really expecting to ever see them again). It was just as wrenching - for both of us - as I knew it would be. I felt emotionally levelled when it was over, and I'm sure he did too.
But my day wasn't over yet. When I got back down to Southcenter, Tim threw an incredible hissy fit when he saw "how much" stuff I had packed . He said that the truck was "too crowded" for him to drive on the freeway safely ... or at least that was the concern he was voicing at the time. For one horrible moment I thought he was actually going to make me stand there in the pouring rain, in tears, and decide whether to keep my journals or my yearbooks. Luckily we managed to scooch things around and give him a clear line of vision out the back window eventually, but by then he said there still wasn't any way we could drive around and visit people, let alone take Kyle anywhere. I got to spend exactly ten minutes in a Bow Lake Elementary storeroom with my son, cramming a month's worth of conversation and apologies into a few minutes. I cried the whole way home. As a matter of fact I've spent this entire weekend, pretty much, alternating slapping on the Maybelline .. and then watching it drip back down my face.
Tim and I are having problems, which I'm sure comes as a surprise to no one. I'll detail this in another e-mail soon.
As for the jewelry box .... Jesus H. Christ. I went into the girls' room - with Ray's permission, I might add - to retrieve my CD's. There on the dresser was the little blue jewelry box that Les gave me on Christmas Eve last year. I looked inside, and all I saw was (what appeared to be) a jumble of junky, broken jewelry. Jaymi had three or four other jewelry boxes sitting in the vicinity ... how was I to realize this one contained the Royal Jewels?? All I knew was that I'd specifically asked for this box ... and here it was in her room.
Anyway ... things are about as bad as they get. No one to blame but me. Sorry you keep getting dragged into the line of fire.
Talk to you soon.
A follow-up e-mail to my mom, after I'd had some time to think about everything that had happened.
In that (e-mail I sent to Kacie):
* The word "my" appears 17 times (including once when it was in capital letters and surrounded by astericks)
* "Me" appears 12 times
* "Mine" and "myself" make one appearance each
* "I" appears ... [cringing] ... a grand total of 53 times
*I* am stupidly self-absorbed and drowning in *my* own pain at the moment.
*I* don't really like *myself* very much right now.
Please bear with *me* as *I* attempt to morph back into a human being again.
You Know Who
Subj: Hi ... HowYa Feeling Today?
Hey kiddo ... feeling better today? Did your stomach ache go away?
I wanted to get online & check on you yesterday, but one of Tim's friends from work came over to the apartment and borrowed the computer for the ENTIRE DAY. (Grrrrrrrr!!!) I kept waiting & waiting for him to leave ... but he never did. Finally, in frustration (and boredom), I walked over to the river and sat on the beach for a couple of hours. It was raining, but it was so warm I didn't even need a jacket. I sat there on a log, getting soaking wet, watching the ducks swimming by and the boats out in the middle of the river and the geese flying overhead ... until suddenly I realized that it had gotten dark (by then it was about 7p.m.) and that the entire beach was deserted, except for one creepy old guy who was walking around picking up garbage. I found the biggest stick I could carry and made my way back through the pitch-black woods and onto the main road, looking over my shoulder the entire time. By the time I got back to the apartment I was completely drenched, totally paranoid and utterly exhausted ...
(God I love going to the river.)
I have another big interview tomorrow morning at 11:00, this time with a temporary employment agency right up the street from where I'm staying. I've got to take a typing and spelling test and go through a couple of interviews, but if I pass then they'll start giving me temporary job openings that come up, until I can find something permanent. It won't be much fun but it'll give me some money until I can find a real job that I like.
Tim has Friday & Saturday off: if the weather isn't completely crappy, I think we're gonna go camping. He's a total camping fanatic. I said that it sounds like fun, but he'd better bring a LOOOOOOONG extension cord so I can plug in the COMPUTER ....
Anyway, just wanted to check in & see if you were feeling OK. Drop me a line when you get a chance.