“Just Kids”

Dear Jack,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Wow. What a blast from the past. I am literally sitting here in disbelief that it is really you. I went on a search site years ago, (probably the one that you mentioned) and goggled a bunch of names. Yours was among them. I am sure. I’ve also wondered about you, I mean even if you were still alive. By the way, there is nothing to forgive; we were just kids back then.

Keri

And she clicked SEND. And immediately felt a sick feeling.

mouse

 

 

 

Why did I say that?! Keri berated herself. All of these years, she wanted the chance to really talk to Jack and tell him how much he hurt her and now she had the chance and relinquished it.

frustrated on computer

 

Keri let out a loud sigh and padded down the stairs to refill her coffee cup. She poured herself another cup and let the aroma envelope her. As she looked out at the gray day. It was spring and everything was green. She watched as a school bus drove by and remembered the mornings of rushing Brynne off to school and felt a familiar twinge pulling at her heart strings and rebuffed it. As she admonished herself to not go there today. She never knew that midlife crisis was really an actual thing or that an empty nest would hurt so much but for a while now, Keri felt stuck. She would not go there today she told herself and then remembered Jack and went up the stairs and found his reply waiting.

Oh my Dearest Keri,

I was so afraid you wouldn’t forgive me. I am not proud of the way I behaved back when we were kids. Or how I treated you. I have learned a lot since those days and hope that I didn’t leave you too damaged and remember the good times as well. I do.

Jack

Keri stared at the screen and noticed how quickly he’d clung to the “just kids” comment. She found it ironic that a few months earlier shortly after Brynne left for school, she began remembering the times in the journal. One morning, when Tim was on another business trip, she was in the shower and the memories came in waves, like flash backs, they hit one after another, as she began to reflect upon her life and those days of abuse she experienced from Jack, she used to believe that most of the times had been emotional and never really allowed herself to focus on the physical part of the abuse. But for some reason that morning it hit her and she collapsed crying in the shower thinking aloud. “You hurt me; you really, really hurt me!” As she recalled the physical part of the pain she cried, whispering in sobs over and over again “You hurt me.”

shower crying

 

The pain was still raw and so she wrote about it. Now, as she remembered that post she realized that on her face book page she shared links to her blog and wondered if when he’d been on her page looking at her pictures, he also might have seen the link to her blog. She frowned and considered everything, asking herself if she even cared. He knew it happened, what could he say? But she did care and panicked a little and it all felt a little too familiar and she said to herself; “Get a grip Keri, you don’t have to ever walk on eggshells again!”

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#62 YOU CAN’T HAVE ME NOW

praying man B&w

I am lost in your shadow

as I bathe in your tears.

You can’t have me now

so stop following me here!

future past present signs

I won’t be charmed

by your pleas and your sighs.

For my tears have cleared

the sight in my eyes.

You captured my heart

like  birds who fly into their cages.

bird cage

your words were like whispers

upon old folded pages.

folded page A

Your love haunted me

until I finally gave in,

But it was too late for us,

for… we began at the end.

Keri London

1977

#51 The Calm Before The Storm

 

Dear Journal,

I think it must be that I have never had someone I loved die before. Or maybe I just don’t know what to do with the feelings of guilt that I feel. I want to ask Jack if he blames me for not letting him go see his mom when she called. I want to talk about it with him but I don’t want to make him talk about it if he doesn’t want to because after all, it has been months now. But I just can’t seem to move on inside and I still feel like I want to cry all the time.. When I wake up, I sometimes forget at first what has happened, and then I remember. I can’t stop remembering. My mom even said that maybe I need to see someone. I told her no way! That I was okay. That I would write it out. So here I am again. You know, maybe I should start praying more. I feel like this journal thing is kind of like talking to God in a way.

writingggg

I spend the night at Jack’s house a lot. I say I’m at a friend’s and they don’t ask anymore. I think they know that I’m with Jack. I’m not proud of it. The lying that is. Jack says it’s not lying. But who am I trying to fool?  Since his mom has died, everything has changed.  His house is ours  except that we  just aren’t married so I still have my bedroom at home and when summer is over I will have to go home again and sleep in my own room. But for now it is nice. We can do anything we want, anytime we want. It is so much better than sneaking around at his dad’s or at my house after my parent’s have gone to bed.  I have all my stuff, or a lot of  it at his house. Jack said that I am using him to play house and I told him that he is using me to have his way with me. He laughed and thought I was trying to be cute. I wasn’t.

  making out on top of bed

Larry kept coming around a lot when he knew Jack wouldn’t be home. I finally told Jack but he didn’t seem bothered by it. Funny, I may be young but I am not stupid. Larry is very good-looking. Did I mention that? I mean Disney Movie  Prince cute. And he knows it.  Much cuter than Jack if you liked that kind of thing. But I am attracted to the personality more than anything first and hitting on a friend’s girlfriend is not attractive to me.  I just find it strange that Jack has  been so jealous about every other guy that was doing nothing and yet when it is happening right in front of his face, he doesn’t seem to care.

Larry look alike

I introduced Larry to my friend Lindsay and they have been dating for a while now but Larry’s made it clear when they are not around that he wishes we were together. We hung out at the beach together a few weeks ago and in the waves, he was all over me. I am not sure how Jack missed it.

ocean playing

 

#49

Dear Journal,

It has been a while since I last wrote in you. And it is hard to believe that it is almost summer again! I got Jack a little kitten for Easter. When I was doing our laundry at the laundromat around the corner a little girl and her dad had a box out front with four kittens in them. There was one boy left so I got him and named him Schweitzer after the kind of Sail Plane that Jack has.

kittennn

Jack loves him and calls him Schwites. He is a funny little kitty and sometimes it seems as if he is trying to make us laugh. Jack let me invite Jess and Louise over for strawberry shortcake and it was a nice evening so we served it out on the patio. Jack took Jess into his shed to show him his workshop while Louise and I chatted. It was a nice night and as I was doing the dishes Jack said something about using HIM to play house. I was so hurt I just stood their washing dishes crying. I don’t even think he knew he’d hurt my feelings cuz later he grabbed my hand and said “lets take a walk” and everything was okay. We still haven’t set a date and it’s been almost six months since he proposed. I think that he really just wanted to make sure that I was not going anywhere but maybe he doesn’t really want to get married.

I had Finals last week and Jack was so proud of me. Even my dad joked about how he was glad that he wasn’t still paying me for my As! I now have a 3.8 average and I am so proud. I think that my dad thinks that Jack is good for me in that way because I never really got interested in school except for writing and my dental assisting classes helped boost up my GPA. Though that was all it was good for since I obviously have not done much with dental assisting.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the summer. The Center is trying to talk me into going to camp again but Jack does not want me to go at all this year. Everyone at the school goes on unemployment but they pay $100 for the week at camp so I told him I wanted to go and he told me that he’d pay me $100 not to. I think he is joking but he sounded kind of serious. He really likes to mess around and so do I but he seems to need it and in a way I am feeling a little used. I sometimes feel that maybe he would have set the date if I’d not given in to so much so fast. He is always jumping all over me and touching me and I love it because I love him but it bothers me sometimes that he doesn’t like me to say no.

couples kissing on bed

Anyway, Jack said I should work on my modeling and stay home and take care of him. (What do you suppose that means?) He is doing well at work. Did I tell you that Jack got promoted and switched to the day shift at work?  My dad was pretty impressed because I know he had nothing to do with it and Jack got a raise all on his own merits.

Lori is coming home for the summer and a few of my other friends have been asking me to do things again so I am glad that I will have my days free for them. They have been kind of annoyed that Jack consumed so much of my time the last couple years. But I was going to school and working and barely saw Jack as it was so it really was my choice and not his fault like they seem to make it out to be. But I think that this may be my last year to just be a kid and I am going to take it and enjoy it.

 

#32 The letters

old letters

 

 

Dear Journal,

Settling into our little house has been such fun. Though when we first rented the place we’d discussed possibly talking to our landlord about maybe leasing it with an option to buy. But Jack has since discovered that there is something not right about the foundation. Either it doesn’t have one all together or there’s something really wrong with it. All that I know is that when I serve our soup, it leans to one side! But it’s okay. We just laugh about it. Though Jack says he wouldn’t be laughing if we’d bought the place. But I do love it!

eating soup

There are these lovely built in dressers in each of the two bedrooms and in our bedroom, which must have been meant to be the masterbedroom it is  much more elaborately made, built right beneath the two windows facing the front of the house. It has two little cubby drawers on top of each side of the dresser that are darling. And as I was papering the drawers with liners I pulled them all the way out to make it easier to measure and  and I discovered these amazing letters tied up with a stained old pink satin ribbon.

letters tied with a pink ribbon

The post mark says that they were written in 1941 to 1944 and then they just abruptly stopped. It sounds as if they were from an older man and woman who’d been each other’s first loves and then bumped into each other years later. I can imagine them in my head and they have sent pictures back and forth but for the most part they are very discreet. From what I have gathered in what I have read so far, they both were married and raised families. It sounds as if he is free. His wife may have died. I am not sure yet. Maybe some of the later letters will say. But she sounds to still be married and not very happily. She sounds so sad and yet happy to have found him again.

 

forties pic hugging

 

I’ve been reading them to Jack and he thinks it is cute the way that I can’t help but cry when I read them, they just are so sad.  I made him promise that would never happen to us and that we would never end up like that and just lose touch. I cried when I made him promise. It was weird. I’d never felt that feeling of panick before and the crying just wasn’t tears. It was the sobbing, the I can’t catch my breath till I get a headache kind of crying. Jack was really sweet and just kept promising and rubbing my back and pushing back my hair from my face and telling me he promised. I have become very invested in their story and think about them a lot and wonder whatever happened. He never wrote a return address on the outside of his envelopes. I only have his letters to her and so I have to just guess what she might have said to him first. Though in the end of 1944 there are a few unmailed letters that she wrote.  They started…”My dearest C”  and all of “Cs” letters were addressed to Annie Madison at this VERY address! He’d start each letter… To my sweet little Annie and end each one, Love Always, C. I can’t help but wonder why she never sent those last letters.

 

WRITER BLACK AND WHITE

 

At first the letters sounded formal and happy to have found each other. C was on a business trip and Annie had just finished lunch with friends. They hugged because they talked about that hug a lot in later letters. And exchanged addresses. And then the letters began. There are 83 in all and I am only through 34 of them. Now as I read more, they are much less formal and beginning to sound like they have always loved each other. They have begun to stroll down memory lane and it is fun to follow them through memories of their first dates and kisses and I am trying to keep them all in order.

letters

 

I know that I could have sat down and read them all in one sitting but I wanted to make it a special thing between Jack and me. I like to wait until he is there so that I can read them to him too. He listens sweetly and tells me to wait for him before I read ahead though I’m not really sure he cares like I do. Though he does make a big point to tell me to wait for him. Probably because he knows that  I am so wound up inside about lost loves by the time I finish each letter that it makes me not want to take ours  for granted. Though I already told you that I jumped way ahead and read Annie’s last few letters and I’m not sorry that I did. It made me understand it all better and made me feel this weird connection with her.

reading letterssss

 

 

#30 Dear Journal

Dear Journal,

I have to say that the week at camp was a lot of work but so worth it! The kids were really good. We didn’t have our regular class. They were too young to go this year. We had eight – nine year old girls and had two assistants in our cabin, along with Kathy and I. Some of the kids needed meds and others just needed closer supervision but they were much easier than our class of five and six year old. Though every single minute of every single day was filled. But the ratio was two kids per counselor in our cabin so it wasn’t  bad at all. The nights were so fun. All the counselors would get together and have what they called RnR around the campfire.

bonfire2

We took turns where two stayed with the cabin while two of us went to RnR and then the next night we’d switch. Kathy and I ended up volunteering to stay with the cabin more nights and we’d stay up and talk long after  our two assistants would come back. We talked about everything… What she wanted out of life, how she became a Speech Therapist,  what I wanted out of life and my career goals. About her wanting to have a baby, about her marriage, about Jack and I  and then a couple of nights into really getting to know each other, I told her that I was still a virgin and that I was saving myself for marriage. She kind of flipped out. And told me that I needed to go right home and do it. She was joking, but I started thinking a lot about it.

sunshine coach

Jack was right there waiting for me when our bus pulled up. He grabbed me and picked me right up off the ground and swung me around . When he set me down, I caught Kathy smiling at me with a little twinkle in her eye. And I glared at her but smiled. I knew exactly what she was thinking. All the parents of our girls had already been picked up at camp so Kathy and I were free to go as soon as our sleeping bags and suit cases were unloaded. Her husband pulled up and got out. He sure is cute! He is a lawyer. He put her stuff in their MG little sports car and came over and shook Jack’s hand and admired his spitfire. I waved goodbye to Kathy as we both turned in different directions.

hugging jumped up

All the way home, I talked nonstop, about the kids and the activities and about RnR. I told him about how after the first few nights we’d opted to stay in and let our assistants go to most of the RnRs  and then I let him in on  some of  the conversations Kathy and I had about us and Jack just smiled and reached over and held my hand without saying anything. When we got to his apartment his dad was working the swing shift and was not due home for a few more hours and so we went up.

inbed2

I don’t really think that either one of us planned it or thought anything was going to happen that day, but we really missed each other and one thing led to another and  I’d been thinking about what Kathy said and  reasoning with myself ever since our own private RnRs.  I knew that we’d be together forever and so lets just say that Jack should be very happy that I care about Kathy’s opinion so much. He usually gets mad when I put so much value on what other people think but this time I think he was glad. He was so gentle and sweet and I was’nt as scared as I thought I’d be. Afterwards we just kind of lay there in the after glow and ended up falling asleep and almost getting caught.

hugging lying down

Jack was the first to hear his dad pull up in the garage below and just happened to hear the car door slam. Luckily that woke him up out of a deep sleep.  He jumped up and woke me up and we stumbled around getting dressed really fast and and then turned on the TV. It was way  too close that time!

tv watching

 

When Jack took me home, he told me that he wanted to speed up the search for our own place and said that he figured out that he  could afford Five hundred dollars a month! Which is enough to get a little two bedroom house. We looked that next weekend instead of going soaring  and it was so much fun going through apartments and peeking into windows of empty houses. But the next week, I  happened to be driving by a cute neighborhood in Lomita when I found our house! I wrote down the phone number and I can’t wait for Jack to come see it with me!

Journal Entry #20

Dear Journal,

Well, my mom and Lonnie are in Seattle and my dad is traveling so much that it is hard to keep up with if he is home or not but he calls me everyday and I am supposed to be checking in and staying at Laurie’s when he is out of town. Now that school is out, Jack and I drive together in the morning and come home at night. Liz like’s me working full time and I have to admit that it is pretty nice having my own money. I put most of it away. Jack spoils me and won’t let me pay when we go out. So I try to make lunch for us and pack it and I usually eat through lunch anyway. Sometimes Jack will come and pick me up and we will go get something quick. But Liz is beginning to depend on me more and sometimes I am the only one in the office.

The other day one of the truckers came in and asked me to hold something. He motioned for me to hold out my hand and I did and when I realized that he had poured a bunch of “whites” in my hand I pulled my hand away and they spilled all over my desk. He and the other guys laughed. They think I am innocent. And well yeah, when it comes to stuff like that I am!

white pills on a desk

 

I guess they take them to stay awake but I hate drugs and Jack didn’t think it was a bit funny when I told him about it. Though for the most part, they are nice guys. I love to look inside their cabs. Some of them even have refrigerators and toilets and one even had a water bed! He told me I could try it out but I rolled my eyes and said “NO thanks!” I am beginning to catch on to their jokes.

 

Liz seems to be showing up less. I think that she and Richard might be having trouble. I can tell that Jack is worried. Things are tense when she is around so I like it when she is not there. I know how to answer the phones and do the billing now and if I can’t answer a question, I just take a message and know someone will answer it. Jack has been telling me about some horrible dreams he has been having about his childhood. I think being around his mom more stirs up a lot of pain and memories. He has been doing so well and his mom seems proud of him. I really have not seen her evil side yet but he keeps assuring me it is there. He kind of reminds me of a little boy just wanting to please his mom. It makes me so sad.

fog couple2

I’m a vapor falling upon your skin

You are my favorite scent

I breathe you in

Your words have filled me

Your sorrow has killed me

crying couple

I try to pull you out of your pain

and watch you wander there again and again.

I want to kiss your sadness away

to erase your memory of yesterday.

sad corner boy

but a thousand kisses can’t pay the debt

kissing

or pay the ransom that will make you forget.

Keri London

1974 c

STAYING

breathe

You fill a room so full

that I can’t breathe,

You make me feel your need

so I can’t leave.

doorway

I try to catch my breath

and gasp for air,

you are my oxygen

no longer there.

I feel like a game piece

folded pagesssssss

just being played,

an unread book not  sure

I’m glad I stayed.

game pieces

And then you come in

and mess up the game,

and nothing inside

is ever the same.

I’m not sure I like

the way that you play…

doorway kiss

And yet I know

I’ve decided to stay.

Keri London

1974 c

#18 Journal Entry Job Changes

writing in diary on bed

Dear Journal,

I finally have a night to myself so I thought that I’d spend some time here with you!

I am not sure what to think. It is all still so good. I mean everything….. Is sooo good! Jack quit his job when his mom offered him a position at her company.  So he is working for her and Richard, his mom’s husband. He is so happy and is making quadruple what he was making at the gas station and the best part is that he has weekends off! Though I do have to admit, I miss those late nights studying up on the racks in his Triumph when he’d work on it’s rear end suspension problems. Which always seems to need working on.

We are spending almost every night going somewhere with  his mom and Richard. Richard has a Jaguar so we end up going in his mom’s Cutlass and Jack ends up driving because they both drink a lot.  I mean a LOT. Jack hates drinking. He says that it runined his childhood. I can tell that it bothers him when they begin ordering more drinks. He looks really uncomfortable after the second round, but since it is usually a work night, we try to cut the nights short. But all and all, Jack seems happy at the oil company and very happy to be getting along with his mom. Richard is teaching him sales and he’s told me that Jack is a natural.

I really like Richard. He is that old school kind of classy guy. You know, like part of the rat pack. It’s hard to explain but when I hear a Frank Sinatra song, I automatically think of Jack’s mom and Richard if that make any sense at all. They like nice things and it is really fun to hang out with them. They laugh a lot and love each other. It is really hard to believe that his mom is that same monster that Jack told me about.

#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