The House on Country Road

forties porch

 The house on Country Road is empty now
The shadows hesitate as the memories linger

Liz
No love is lost as my heart goes back
listening for the melody of the singer

forties shadows dooe

The scent of lives once lived inside the walls
stays upon my skin like notes inside my head

forties smoking

So strange the way life once so alive,
is the part inside of me that is now most dead.

Keri London

1977

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#47 Dear Journal Suicide

ironing board waiting

Dear Journal,

I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted after I told you that Jack and I got engaged and I am sorry but it’s been hard to sit down to even think or gather my thoughts like I like to when I write to you. But let me explain…

I guess there is just NO way to say it but     bluntly.

I am not sure how such joy can turn into such sadness in just the blink of an eye. Like I said, it’s been a few weeks since the funeral and I am not sure how to even begin. I know I need to, because writing in you has become my soft place to fall, a place to perhaps even help me remember someday. But this is something that I don’t need to write down because I know I will never forget these last few days.

I don’t know how to even write it except to just say it. Liz is dead.

We were going to tell her about our being engaged that night of the day that they found her. I guess Rachel had been keeping in touch with her. The pattern usually was Jack would run to her from wherever he was. Even another state going to school. But I was the one who’d stopped him from doing that. I thought I was protecting him. I thought that I was helping them break a bad habit and to stop the madness. I didn’t expect her to kll herself.

I was ironing what I was going to wear that night. I was so happy. I was suprised that a lot of my friends were not thrilled about my news about being engaged, including my mom who kept saying that we should have a LONG engagement. I just knew that Liz would be happy for us. But I wanted to be firm with her and set up boundaries. I kept thinking about if we had babies how I would feel uncomfortable leaving them with her and how I didn’t want to feel that way about my own mother in law and now I didn’t have to worry. She was gone. I would never have to worry about that again.

I kept looking at the clock. Jack was over an hour late. Finally his dad called me and said “Keri honey, I am sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, but Jack’s mom died, he will call you as soon as he can.” At first I thought something had happened to Jack but his dad is a man of few words and cut to the chase. I just hung up the phone and crumpled to the floor and stayed that way sobbing and remembering Liz from the beginnng, the fun times, and the long talks and then the not so good times and the times Jack had shared and wondered what I was thinking butting in. I just hated myself for a while and was feeling so guilty.

crying on the phone

In the days that followed Jack was stoic. We’d learned that she’d taken a lot of valium but not a lethal dose so we don’t think that this was another actual suicide attempt. The findings were that the combination of alcohol and valium is what caused her to die. But I couldn’t help but think if I had just stayed out of it and let Jack go when he wanted to, and bring her the stupid cat food she might still be here. No. She would still be here. I wonder if Jack felt the same. He was being so sweet to me but I couldn’t help it. I truly felt that I killed her and Oh Dear Journal, I am just so sad for Jack and for me and for Liz and for everyone. I can’t stop crying.

sad woman2

 

 

 

 

 

#45 New Year’s Eve

Sorry, I have been away for a while. This has been pretty exhausting to have to go back and remember, almost like walking through all the old doors. Thank you for following and commenting… it is motivating me to finish!

Dear Journal,

fireplace beanbag under Christmast tree

My dad was not too happy when he came down  the next morning and found Jack and I asleep in the living room together. Though he knows I’m at Jack’s a lot now, I know he just doesn’t want us to throw it in his face in his own house. So when I heard him get up, I slipped away and caught him walking out the door on his way to work. He saw that I was still wearing my long dress I’d been wearing the day before and I could tell that at first he looked upset and then confused.  But after I told him what had transpired. He sat down in his suit on the front porch step with me and listened. Then he told me to run up and tell my mom before Jack woke up because he didn’t want her to get upset  in front of Jack. Sometimes my dad just blows me away by being sooo great and understanding!

french toast

The rest of the day I was pretty proud of my parents. My dad was right. I was glad I’d told my mom right away. I guess my dad had mentioned before he went downstairs that he’d thought Jack had stayed over and they both weren’t happy about it. But my mom was just as great about it as my dad and made us french toast and was so sweet to Jack. I kind of think maybe I should have told them more about Jack’s childhood because it seemed to really touch them. My dad even called a couple hours later and told Jack that he’d arranged a few days off for him so he didn’t have to go in that night or the rest of the week until January 2nd!

Jack had been prepared for the worst reaction from my parents I think. I told him last night that I’d explain to them but he’d been worried. Later he told me that he couldn’t believe how wonderful they were and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him that most parents would have understood. It really has begun to hit me that he has never really ever experienced what normal parents are supposed to be like.

It didn’t take long. Liz has been calling poor Jack none stop. And my mom has even talked to her a few times. I finally put my foot down and told him that he needs to let her think about it a while longer and then we need to figure out a place for her to go get treatment. Not just a hospital with a sitter after the fact but some place to help her really get better.

catfood in cupboard

She keeps calling saying that her cat, Bootsie needs cat food and I told Jack that her cupboard was filled when we’d helped her move in a few weeks earlier,  I lined her cupboards myself and told him that there was absolutely no way she was OUT!  I think that in the past, Jack has never had anyone to help keep him strong. His mom has selfishly called him home from two different schools twice in the middle of semesters and totally messed his education up. I told him ENOUGH and that if he let her yank him around again, I wouldn’t be there to watch it. He has stayed strong so far.

#43 The Worst Christmas Ever!!!!

 

Dear Journal,

I hate even remembering this. But on the way to the restaurant Liz kept complaining that Jack did not have a dinner jacket. Of course it didn’t matter to her that the plans had changed and if we’d known that he would have worn something different. Fortunately Rachel and I had on long dresses so we were dressed up enough. As the valet opened the door for us Liz still was going on about it and Jack stayed silent. When we checked in, Jack traded his coat for a dinner jacket and  Rachel and I breathed a sigh of relief.

perinos

 

I have to say that the place was lovely. Our booth was set beautifully and I eyed Jack as we slipped in and sat down. He was not the happy relaxed Jack with so much hope that I’d seen earlier that morning. We got the menus and Liz ordered a cocktail before we even had a chance to open them and she also ordered a bottle of wine. Though I couldn’t drink and Jack doesn’t drink and I was pretty sure that Rachel wouldn’t have more than a glass and she said as much so Liz changed her mind and said that she still wanted the cocktail and to bring two glasses of wine. At that point I hoped that Rachel was going to have at least one because Liz was getting sloppy. Rachel complained that we hadn’t even ordered yet and perhaps white wine would have been a better choice to go with turkey and then got up to go to the restroom and I had to go so I followed.

We walked into the room and immediately a woman dressed like a nurse handed us steaming moist  white wash cloths. We both were kind of taken off guard but Rachel motioned to a woman in front of us who wiped her hands and then placed the used wash cloth in a copper bin below the counter. When we walked out the woman offered us another washcloth and we thanked her and left. Giggling all the way back to our table. Rachel said “Did you see that money in a bowl?” I nodded and said I wonder if we were supposed to take some for using the bathroom and we both started laughing until Liz said sternly or as sternly as someone half sloshed can sound and said “Oh girls that was the antendee’s tips and you were supposed to leave her one.” We looked at each other and said “OOOOooooh” and then couldn’t stop laughing.

drinks

I noticed that our maitredee must have made a mistake and there was a bottle of wine on the table along with a cocktail and two poured glasses of wine when we returned. All I could think was, Oooh boy! Jack looked miserable but we ordered dinner and it was very good. We all had the prime rib so Rachel was fine with the red wine. We even began to have a nice time and even Jack seeemd to relax until Liz motioned loudly,  pointing out a woman across from us who had a nice white pants suit on. I actually thought it was very pretty, but Liz started in loudly again about Jack not wearing a proper jacket and saying, “How would you like me to have worn pants like that?” and actually pointed to the poor woman who graciously ignored her.

perions1

 

I am not sure what may have happened when Rachel and I were in the restroom but Jack calmly said, “I warned you mom, that’s it.” And got up and waited for me as Liz raised her voice at me and said that I better not go with him. I wanted to just melt under the table. But I slipped out of the booth and glanced at Rachel apologetically as her brother grabbed my hand and guided me out the door as  I heard her yelling but didn’t look back. We only stopped long enough for Jack to exchange jackets and for me to get my coat and we walked out the door as I felt a thousand eyes burning through me. In my lifetime I’d never been so embarrassed.

#38

Dear Journal,

We have a break for Thanksgiving. It was nice not to have to drive all the way to Buena Park. I have four days off from everything and I am so looking forward to having it off. Jack got promoted at work and so the new guy is going to work this weekend so Jack has four days off too!  And the cool thing about it all is that we are both getting paid. It seems as if we are never just home. My mom invited Jack for Thanksgiving. She invited his dad too but he is going to his sister’s house. I wanted to invite his dad first but now that I know he has somewhere to go I was kind of wondering about his mom. But I brought her up last week and he was in a bad mood the rest of the day. So when my mom asked me if I’d invited her I just said she probably had someplace to go. Last year she went to her dad’s. Remember the one that I took home in a cab? I am worried. Jack told me that a lot of her drama happens on the holidays. Poor baby. Every year he hopes it will be different.

teddy boy holding hanging bear

I think I love Jack more because I want to make up for all the horrific things that happened when he was little. The suicide attempts and the fights with knifes and guns. I want to just love him happy. To make it all better for him. One day we lay in bed all day and he told me every bad memory that he could remember about every holiday. He said that they were either really happy or really horrific.  He told me about this old raggedy teddy bear that he loved and how his mom ripped it up and threw it away and called him a “girl” when he cried. She told him, “You don’t need a doll anymore and I will make sure of it.  And then tore out the stuffing with a knife and then shook it at him to stop crying.

All I know is that he has been really happy just being part of my family and I’ve told my parents that I want to make him feel special. My dad is very nice to him but a little more formal than usual. I am not sure if that is because he is dating his daughter or he is his boss. And my mom, well, I know she has seen me sad because of him. I have tried to not let her know too much exactly because I don’t want her to hate him. But she is different with him than with Laurie or my other friends. I am not sure that he notices. He just seems to be so grateful to be a part of our family. Part of any family I suspect.

Dear Journal #28 Adult Children of Alcoholics

Dear Journal,

I love my new job! The kids are so great! Kathy, the teacher that I am assisting is amazing.

school class

She lives in Newport Beach, right on the water with her gorgeous husband.  John Wayne’s boat is docked just a few boat docks away from their’s.

dock

I have signed up for college at Harbor and am taking a full load at night. I am going to major in Speech Pathology! My dad seemed so proud of me. I was surprised. I didn’t think he cared if I went to college. Jack also said that he was proud too, but he complained when I told him that I have classes every night but Fridays. He didn’t seem too happy about that. So on Friday nights I’ve started to bring him dinner. He is still working at night, at the job my dad got him in the basement of the City Hall and runs the city’s payroll there and then works at Amber Oil a few days a week with his mom (when she shows up.) THAT is another story for another day! But I don’t think that is going to last for too much longer!

The fact that we see each other much less than we used to seems to have helped in one way and yet put more pressure on us in a totally different way. Jack has been talking about looking for a place. It is too hard for us to be alone at his dad’s or at my house and he is really getting more pushy about sex. Even thought I keep telling him that I want to wait until we are married. But I have to admit that we both get pretty carried away at those Friday night breaks.

kiss kiss

Since we are the only ones in the building at night, and there is a lock on the computer room door, Jack usually eats the dinner I bring after I leave and takes his dinner break with me. Maybe it is a little longer than he might normally get if he had the day shift! But his boss told him that as long as he was there in case something went wrong, he didn’t care what he did as long as the work got done. At first it all startes with just  kissing  and then we started messing around a little more each time until we ended up on the office floor!

kissing on the floor

His mom kept bugging me to go to her doctor and so I did get birth control. Liz and I have become good friends but I still find it a little creepy that she talks about sex with me considering it is her son that is the subject. So now I have birth control pills but I’m not taking them because I don’t plan on needing them. There are other things we can do. Which she also talked to me about and I changed the subject. That was way too much information from my boyfriend’s mom! I think she tries to be a parent but I am beginning to realize that she just doesn’t think the same way all the moms I know do.

Liz is different than anyone I have ever known. A few months ago, we went out with her dad and his wife. She was treating them for their anniversary and wanted us to come along to drive. I am not sure what happened but someone said something to tick her off, I think it was her dad. Well, she just flipped out. The thing is, my parents never fight. I just am not used to adults being so crazy. I just wanted to slide under the table. Jack  paid the bill and then wrote down his grandparent’s address for me and told me he’d call a cab and asked if I could stay and go with them and make sure that they got home okay and then have  the driver take me to his mom’s. He handed me a couple twenties and guided his mom out of the door. I just sat there staring at this old couple that I barely knew and started apologizing. I’m not sure why I was apologizing, but I couldn’t help it. They just looked so miserable and helpless. But somehow, I kind of think that this wasn’t their first big scene that they’d experienced with their daughter.

taxi sign

taxi

It is hard for me to look back and remember the details, I think that I have already blocked that night out of my head. Though I am kind of proud that I was able to navigate everyone to the places that we were supposed to be and help Jack. I feel bad for him. He keeps trying to create these normal family times and they always seem to backfire. I think he thought that his mom was doing better. She was on a new medication and showing up to work pretty regularly but she was not supposed to be drinking. I personally don’t think that she can go OUT and not drink. I also think that we shouldn’t have gone to a place that she used to go with Richard.

dancing out

When she ordered that first drink, I saw Jack tense up. By the third drink, I think we both knew that we were in trouble.

drinks

Dear Journal Entry #23 Catching up!!!!

Dear Journal,

Liz is back at work and seems to be doing better. I was able to help her get caught up or should I say, had been keeping up with most of her  duties along with mine, so she didn’t have so much to do when she returned. She seemed grateful and pretty surprised. I think that she thought that she was going to come back to a huge mess.

woman sitting at typewriter

I  think that Richard stays on his boat some nights and at their house other nights but they laugh and joke in the office like old friends so it’s nice to  feel the positive change, which has taken some of the pressure off of Jack who always seems to feel as if he has to shoulder the burden of whatever is going on with his mom. He shared more stories  with me about how he received scholarships to go away to two schools and his mom called him both times with emergencies interrupting his semesters, causing him to lose a bunch of credits during both school years. It made me so angry to hear that. It made it a little easier for me to tell her about my job at TheSpeech and Language Develpment School in Buena Park but she sounded so happy for me. Happier then Jack seemed to be. She was so nice when I told her that I had to leave that  I felt a little guilty. Not that I would have stayed longer at Amber Oil, school was starting and it was all supposed to be temporary anyway, but I did learn a lot and I could even have more work experience credits if I needed them, which I don’t! If I took a test, I could probably graduate this month!

I do have some exciting news to catch you up on! My dad came home about a month ago, with a new job possibility for Jack! He is one of the Vice Presidents of Marketing at his computer company in El Segundo and he said that there was an entry level computer operator opening there and I know Jack was touched that my dad would even think of him. And I was happy because I think maybe he was thinking about our future together! Anyway, I wasn’t sure that Jack would even be interested. I mean, he’d never even talked about computers and he was already working for his mom and Richard. But he did seem interested and took the card he gave him and decided to apply and he got the job! My dad just told him that no one but Jack’s bosses boss knew his relationship to my dad and he was to keep it that way!

business card

Jack was so serious and cute and shook my dad’s hand and said “Yes sir.” I laughed so hard later mimicking him. So now he still works for Amber Oil three days a week in the day doing sales and Monday through Thursday nights from 3 to 12 he will work at CSCC!. He is so excited and wants to go back to college to finish his degree in Computer Sciences and my dad seemed so proud and came home the other day and said he heard good reports so far and to keep up the good work.

shaking hands2

We took a drive that night to go celebrate everything while it was still getting dark later. Earlier that summer, we’d found this spot on the cliffs nearby, where we’d watch the sun set and sometimes even watched it rise on the days we’d wake up early enough in the summer when my parents were out of town and it was really warm outside. Jack would pick me up and we’d pile up a bunch of blankets and pillows in the car and go up there when it was still dark.  It was so fun kind of like camping out just waiting for the sun with a thermos of coffee. Half the time we’d  miss  it because we’d get caught up in kissing or whatever else we happened to be doing and lie half naked, tangled up in each other, on the top of the hill looking up at the stars,  as we could hear the waves breaking below.

kissing on the beach

#17 Jack’s Mom

Dear Journal,

I feel kind of funny writing this. I am so confused. I was ready to really hate Jack’s mom. I can’t even write about the things that he said that she’s done to him. Or when he was just a little boy what she would say. I am not even sure how he has turned out to be half as great as he has. Both his parents should not have been parents according to what he has shared with me. Though I love his dad. He is very quiet and has only been kind to me. It is hard to believe that he ever had the kind of temper that Jack talks about. But his mom is a different story. She has destroyed him from the time he was very small. And most recently, he had to leave yet another school to come home for some emergency that his mother seemed to create.

So by the time I’d heard everything, not to mention the memory of the sailing trip that was supposedly provoked by something in Jack’s past that most likely had to do with his mom, I was not the least bit interested in meeting her except perhaps to dump water on her and watch her melt!

melted witch

Having said all that, I must admit I was extremely surprised when I found her quite charming, considering the fact that I was pretty guarded. We picked her up at her office because Jack wanted me to  see her Company. We met her at the back door and Jack took me on a tour while his mom finished up doing what she was doing and then we followed her to her house so that she could change and so that  we could all drive together.

opening door woman

Liz was beautiful and engaging and immediately began asking me all kinds of questions.  . She took us to this great restaurant on top of a hill overlooking the city lights and freeways for dinner. Jack drove us so she ordered a bottle of wine and drank it all herself but seemed to stay in control as she told me how happy she was that Jack finally had found such a wonderful girl. Now how could I hate someone that had such good taste in her son’s girlfriends?

wineglasses

Anyway, we drove Liz home and she insisted that we come in. She showed me Jack’s baby albums and we all laughed at how cute he was. Even Jack seemed to be enjoying his time. We planned to meet for dinner again next week. Liz wants to talk to Jack about helping her out at her oil company downtown. It would mean quitting his job at the gas station and more money. But driving farther each day and working longer hours with his mom which has not always been the best mix. Jack was quiet on the drive home. He caught me looking at him and reached over and squeezed my leg and then grabbed my hand and drove that way the rest of the way home.

holding hands driving

Entry #10 Sailing trip Continued

Dear Journal,

So as I sat on the bow of the boat, as far away as I could get from Jack, my world stopped. As my mind reeled. My heart was broken but at that point,  I was too angry to feel that yet.  No one ever talked to me or said things like he did that day. We’d never even had so much as a cross word before, so I didn’t know how to fight back so I just didn’t.  His sandwich was still on the floor of the boat and he seemed to stomp around and yank “lines” and basically had to sail by himself. It wasn’t a big boat but I wasn’t sure what to do. He still seemed pretty mad and I kept replaying it all in my head as if I had a rewind button. At one point he did a turn about and saw that I was crying which infuriated me because I did not want him to see. But when he saw the tears streaming down my face asI quickly wiped them away,  something seemed to click in him and though he didn’t say anything I could tell the rage he’d been in, left as fast as it had come.

He managed to pull the boat out without my help. I am not sure how he did it because I walked up the ramp and sat on a bench near the parking lot. When he finally pulled up he rolled down the window and asked me to get in. I just stared at  him, thinking that he must think that I was crazy to really believe that I would climb in that car with someone who had behaved like a lunatic for whatever reason, I still was not sure of. “Come on Keri, I promise that I will just drive you home.” Jack pleaded with me and since I couldn’t think of anything else to do other than call my parents  to come and pick me up, I got in. I leaned against the door, and looked out the window and I cried all the way home.

tears