Good Times Ahead… And Behind

I’ve been taking a long stroll down Memory Lane these past few posts. Some of you may be wondering, “Why don’t you shut off those memory notifications, Sam?”

Simple. I don’t want to.

Why? Do you love being tortured?

No. No, I do not like being tortured. Honestly, I’m not tortured by any of these memories. It’s more that they pop up and I shake my head at how naïve I was. Or maybe it’s more that I shake my head in disgrace at how far I buried my head in the sand when it came to that jackass. I see those pictures, those happy pictures of us (us being me and my kids) and my overwhelming thought is, “Oh, you poor thing. You had no idea what was heading your way.” Truth.

That’s the root of it, and this walk down memory lane. I look back on those pictures and my first thought is, “What a fucking waste!” when I see my kids and I doing all of our favorite things one last time, going to our favorite places, eating our favorite foods. “What a fucking waste!” I say as I see the pictures of our house up for sale, the moving truck loading up our things, all of my goodbye gifts from my friends, last minute gatherings, saying goodbye to everyone. We moved for what? Absolutely nothing. For the promise of a new life, a chance to start over.

I see those pictures of me and the kids on our three week trip out to Indiana and Utah and while the overwhelming memory is how much fun we had and how great it was to see everyone, I am reminded that the entire time we were away Jerry Lee was doing God only knows what with Harley. As I was reading the news of my friend’s impending divorce and lending her comfort my own husband was busy betraying me. I still remember writing to her that I was one of the “lucky ones” because we worked through it. Huh. Not even two months later I would be calling her and telling her I was joining the Women Who Moved Across the Country For Their Husbands and Then Got Dumped club. It’s a mouthful.

I see the pictures of us again down in Florida on what was supposed to be our family vacation and again, while the overwhelming memory is of what a great time we had, I am always aware of how dramatically our lives were about to change.

Those are all pictures of my old life, the one I had before the last DDay. Regardless of how it ended those pictures represent what was once my life. It was a mere chapter and not the entire book, but it was mine nonetheless.

My children are in those pictures, too. My nieces. My nephew. My brother and mother and sister-in-law. My family. Videos of Rock Star at her gymnastics meets and during practice. Videos of birthday parties. So no, I won’t get rid of the Facebook memories.

And you know what? Those memories that make me cringe come up sometimes alongside new memories. New, good memories. Sometimes I see things like my trip to Hocking Hills with the mobster where we walked around this beautiful, almost magical, park all day and then had an amazing time sampling wine at Hocking Hills Winery. Other times I’m treated to pictures of our weekend in Germantown, in parks, at wineries, in Athens, at the Blueberry Festival. Or pictures of us at the Paula Poundstone concert or the Kane Brown concert will pop up. So many memories between the two of us. Other times I come across a picture of me and Sweet J hanging out at a baseball game. Or there’s a post reminding me that my long time friend took me to The Damned concert up in Detroit. There’s the picture of me and my high school friends reunited for dinner. Sometimes I get to see pictures of me and my niece and my mom on one of our town’s wine walks. And there are always the holiday and birthday pictures. They’re not all tug-at-the-heartstrings memories. Some of them, most of them, are happy memories with no foreshadowing, unless you count my entire life as foreshadowing.

I’m almost six years from DDay. The things that happened changed me forever. The life I live now is nowhere close to the life I lived before. The trick is to keep on going. Roll with the punches. Dodge ‘em if you can. 

Oh What the Hell… Let’s Keep Going

Yesterday it was the picture my mom put up back in 2016 when I picked up the U-Haul that would transport what few belongings we were taking with us back to Indiana. Sam the truck driver, read the caption.

Today it was the little timeline notice showing that I had moved to South Bend on this day five years ago.

Wow- let that one wash over you for a moment. Five years since Jerry Lee lost his job and decided financially supporting his children wasn’t a priority. Five years since I walked through my house putting price tags on everything I owned to attempt to sell it. Five years since I sold off my furniture piece by piece. Five years since I packed up and moved here. Five years since I cried as I drove out of my neighborhood. Five years since I’ve lived in a house that is truly my own.

My view driving into my subdivision.
My house
My pool
My enclosed porch

A lot has changed in those five years, as you might imagine. I finally got a better job. My daughter is beginning her final year of nursing school in a month. My son has finally graduated high school. Shockingly, I found love again. I lost my beloved Beau. My mom lost her dog. I beat Jerry Lee in court over and over and over again. Fingers crossed he’s finally learned. And in about 3 weeks my love, my mobster, will be moving to my area. Hooray! No more weekends only. No more 2, 3, 4 weeks between visits. I’ll write about that more later.

I could be sad. I could wallow in sorrow over all that was lost. My word of the year is attitude and the word the year before was change. I’m going to look at it like five years ago my life began all over again. One chapter ended. Another chapter began.

One More Stroll Down Memory Lane

Since I seem to be in the middle of the dog days of nostalgia I figured one more post on the topic wouldn’t hurt. 

I was going to throw this in with yesterday’s post but that one got kinda long so I’m doing a separate one. Facebook hasn’t just been busy reminding me of all the “lasts” we did on our bucket list before we moved from Utah to Virginia. The kids and I created a list of everything we wanted to do one last time before we moved 2000 miles away. It isn’t just busy showing me pictures of the the new house we bought and then furnished and decorated. It has greater tricks up its sleeve than reminding me of our expedition to Indiana to see my niece graduate. We left the day after Rock Star and Picasso got out of school and Jerry Lee took that opportunity to shift his affair into high gear. It’s not content with taunting me with happy pictures of our return visit to Utah, one year after our move to see friends. All while I’m sending him pictures of me in my new dresses, smiling and checking in on him. And, of course, it’s not going to settle for only reminding me about our family vacation in Florida, the one that happened without a care in the world while he screwed his cousin. No, those aren’t the only pictures it likes to have pop up. It also likes to show me the progress being made on my pool.

I believe as far back as April I get a reminder: I signed the contract for our pool today! Hooray! Then again in May: They are finally out here digging! Progress!

I think I’ve told the story of how the pool construction was cursed. The surveyor who was supposed to verify where the power lines were didn’t do his job; he simply signed off on it. The guy who came out and began digging the hole for our pool ending up running over and cutting a power line. I had what felt like the entire electric company out in my backyard attempting to fix the problem- the problem being, of course, exposed live electrical wires.

It didn’t stop there. It rained like crazy that summer so construction was delayed. Then someone else was building a home and putting a pool in at the same time and I agreed to let them go first since it was supposedly an easier job. We had large boulders where the pool was supposed to go and we weren’t sure they were going to be able to dig 6 feet, much less the 8 feet I was hoping for so we could have a diving board. It cost $11,000 to remove them, on top of what we were already paying. It kept raining. Then the dye machine exploded on the day they were supposed to come over and do my concrete. Three weeks turned into six weeks turned into nine weeks. I know it was at least ten weeks. Instead of enjoying our pool sometime in late June or early July it didn’t get filled until August. Our contractor had someone come out and run the basic electricity so that the kids could swim, but we never had it set up completely with the lights.

This picture pretty much sums it up. My mom had captioned it something along the lines of: Sam enjoying her pool. Not!

I remember trying to be very Zen about the whole thing. I kept telling myself that while this was taking a lot longer than it was supposed to in the long run it would all be worth it and we would have years and years of enjoyment. Next year there would be no waiting. Ha! Next year it would be so impossibly dirty we couldn’t ever get it clean and we never swam in it again.

Believe it or not, I’ve made peace with that particular pool. In fact, I would go so far as to say that pool was my saving grace. Had it been finished earlier I would have already paid for it. That money set aside for our pool was what gave me a cushion. Plus, as I’ve always said, if he’d had more stock options he would have simply spent more money on the whore. In the end that big hole in the ground actually saved me. It’s disappointing as hell to know how much we paid for that and how little we got to enjoy it, but it saved me and my kids. There’s got to be some kind of metaphor or catchy saying here. You know, like, “It wasn’t the pool I wanted but it was the pool I needed.” Something like that. Maybe it’s as simple as that pool came into my life for a reason and everything worked out exactly like it was supposed to. 

Anyway, I try not to dwell on it. I loved that pool. I made all the decisions regarding it- the liner selected, the color of the concrete, the deck jets, the solar lights built into the pool deck, the colored lights, the bench, the steps to enter the pool. All of those things were my choices. Knowing what all it took to get the finished product it tugs at my heart a little when I see these updates in my memories. One more thing he took away from me.

I’m going to be glad when September rolls around. LOL

Damn You, Facebook!

I hope everyone reading my blog by now knows that I am completely over Jerry Lee. That shipped sailed the moment The Saint told me he had been spending his weekends with Harley while he lied to me and made up story after story. And I am probably somewhere in the 95-99% range of being over all the shit he put me through and the havoc he created. With that said Facebook can be a real meddlin’ bitch who stirs shit up!

If I let triggers rule my life I would have to be put into a coma somewhere around the beginning of May and be kept unconscious until the end of August. That’s pretty much when Jerry Lee pulled all his shit- both times! Much like my children have June and July birthdays which means I can pretty much always say, “They’re two years apart,” Jerry Lee was “kind enough” to make sure that both of my D-Days were in August. Four days apart! Except for the original D-Day which was not much of a D-Day because I was so stupid. That one happened in May- hence the medically induced coma beginning in May.

I looked on my Facebook memories and was treated to pictures of my kids and I on a “family” vacation in Destin with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 2 nieces, and a nephew. I’m not triggered by the pictures of us on vacation so much as I am by what was going on behind the scenes.

See, poor Jerry Lee couldn’t come with us because he had to go on a “business trip” to Tennessee. That was the trip where his counselor and I both coached him on the arduous drive that he was unsure he was going to be able to make. We cheered him on and gave him all the atta-boys his little heart could handle. And then while the kids and I were in Destin Jerry Lee drove to Tennessee and met up with Harley. We’d been in Virginia one year exactly.

I look at those pictures and I see me and my kids enjoying our vacation, having a great time, with absolutely no idea what was ahead of us. We were carefree and happy. Approximately two weeks later I would find out my husband was a lying, cheating shit eating chimp, and about two weeks after that his kids would find out that the family they grew up with was no longer. In a 10 minute come-to-Jesus confessional they both found out not only had their father been spending his weekends hanging out with his new girlfriend in Kentucky but also his entire family knew about it and condoned it. His mother organized it and went on a date with them. It was to a funeral but still…

While the kids and I were on vacation, thinking that life was going on as normal, my husband was busy stabbing me in the back. I look at those pictures now and I think, “Oh my God! You were completely clueless.” And it makes me kind of sad.

Of course, this was also the trip where I spotted the Walmart purchase in Whoreville, otherwise known as Winchester, Kentucky. Looking back on it it’s quite insulting how stupid he thought I was. “D’oh, I gave my debit card to my mom so she could get a new tire for her minivan. That’s why that’s on there. I don’t know why it says Whoreville. She bought it in Lexington.”

Actually looking back it’s kind of insulting how stupid I allowed myself to be. In my defense I thought he was a whole lot smarter than that. Who in their right mind moves their family across the country, buys a brand new house, fills it with brand new furniture, buys their wife a brand new car, and agrees to install a brand new in-ground pool in the backyard which takes almost all of your stock options and requires a loan, and then turns around and cheats with the same damn whore you cheated with 2 years prior? Even more stupid than that, who in the hell buys the whore something from Walmart and uses their damn debit card when they know damn well that the other spouse can see the bank transactions and is checking on a regular basis because they’re on vacation with your kids? I do remember saying to myself, “He can’t be that stupid. He’s a smart man.” Not smart enough apparently.

God, he was such a shit. I remember being in Florida and him telling me the trip lasted longer than he expected. Then he told me that since he was already in Tennessee he was going to “try” to drive and see his mom. Would I be okay with that?

Would I be okay with him seeing his mom? Absolutely. I said as much. Something along the lines of, “She’s your mom. Of course I don’t have a problem with it. How could I say no to that?” Would I be okay with him fucking his cousin? No. I had no idea that to him they were one and the same. Okay with him continuing to slough off on our family vacation? Well then I must be okay with him fucking his cousin. And going to a goddamn family reunion that was set up knowing his wife and kids weren’t going to be there. It was probably their fucking engagement party knowing those inbred motherfuckers.

I don’t remember what set me off. All I remember is thinking that if he could spend money freely on his “mother” then I was no longer going to be keeping the purse strings closed for my kids. I took Rock Star on a very nice shopping spree. All the clothes she wanted. A Coach purse. Another Coach purse for me… after I had already bought a Kate Spade purse and wallet because the Coach purse I liked was a little too expensive. Oh you better believe I went back there a day or two later and bought the one I wanted. It was an outlet mall; it wasn’t that expensive. I bought for Picasso as well, but he had no interest in coming along.

I guess that seeing these memories pop up so close to my return trip to Utah has hit me in some way. I don’t want him back and while I freely admit I miss the lifestyle I used to have I can’t envision still being with him. The thought of being married to him and living life with him makes my skin crawl. I am 100% happier in this new life. Yet I look at those pictures and I can’t help but know that I thought I was happy and I was definitely a lot more innocent. I had no idea the hell that was about to be unleashed. I had no idea the changes and the hardships that were about to befall me. I was a sheltered, pampered stay at home mom with no financial worries and plenty of (maybe too much) time on my hands. Those pictures represent me before life kicked me in the throat. They’re a reminder of my old life, a life where I didn’t struggle and where I thought things were okay, maybe even mostly good. Those pictures are me and my kids before our lives were imploded and we were forced to change everything.

It’s not a bad life anymore. I’m not even sure I’m sad about it. It’s more like seeing a picture of a loved one shortly before they die. You look at that picture and you think to yourself, “I had no idea at the time that this would be the last time I saw them.” That’s what those pictures do to me. I look at the happy faces, the smiles, and I think, “That’s the last time my life was normal.” Approximately two weeks later I would join the ranks of women whose husbands had cheated on them and were planning on leaving for the other woman. I went from being a stay at home mom to being a working mom. I went from being a great mom to just being a mom. I went from living in my own home to living in my mom’s house. I went from no financial worries to worrying about money constantly. I went from being married for 20 years to being single. I went from living in Virginia to moving back to Indiana. I went from having furniture and dishes and towels to getting rid of probably 95% of everything I’d ever owned. Absolutely everything changed. Those pictures are the last pictures taken of me before I died, along with my old life.

Oh, don’t worry. Like the Phoenix I rose from the ashes. Maybe I’m even better than I was before. All that forged in fire shit. Not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain. I did that. I’m still standing. But that woman in those pictures? She’s gone forever.

Back In Time

We got back from Utah last Sunday. Rock Star, her boyfriend, Picasso, the mobster, and I all went out for 10 glorious days. We went horseback riding, rafting, and hiking. We visited some of our favorite places and visited some new ones. The mobster finally got to see the Great Salt Lake and if asked, he would tell you, it smells to high heaven. We probably wouldn’t have gone if not for the fact we went horseback riding on Antelope Island and Antelope Island is in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. It was a great time and yet… I felt myself overcome with the feelz more than a few times.

I don’t know why. It’s not as if I haven’t been back since DDay and everything that happened. Then again, our other two trips were pretty quick and were for a specific purpose. First trip back was for Rock Star’s college visit. It was a long weekend and we weren’t even back in our area. We flew into Vegas and spent the entire time about 4 1/2 hours away from our town. Our second trip back was for our friend’s son’s wedding. We flew out Friday morning and flew back home Sunday afternoon. It was the mobster’s first trip to Utah and we tried to cram as much as possible into the time we were there, but the wedding itself took up almost a full day. Again, there was a purpose for the trip.

This time we were there to relax, reconnect with friends, and do all the things we used to do but could no longer because we don’t live there. There were a few bumps in the road but overall it was a great trip. I missed seeing some people but a week really isn’t long enough to see everyone, do everything, and eat all the food you’ve missed. You think it will be, but isn’t.

I didn’t spend my whole trip bemoaning the loss of my old life but there were times I did get hit with jolts of nostalgia. They were mostly tiny triggers but I could feel them some days. I would have the question, “Why was I being triggered?” but the answer to that is in the first sentence of this paragraph. I was constantly being reminded of my old life, the one that is gone, obliterated. I will never have it again.

So many things have changed out there and it was super frustrating. I kept feeling like I should know where I was going, especially considering the entire city is set up on a grid, but I kept getting so turned around. It’s not just that there are new stores and restaurants. They have new roads and highways. The Mountain View Corridor had just opened a year before we left, or rather, parts of the Mountain View Corridor had just opened. I remember it ran much further west than it did east. Now it connects to the freeways. 

I also remember driving along the opened parts, talking to myself or envisioning what I would say to Jerry Lee, Tammy Faye, or Jezebel, when shit first started going down. I remember screaming and crying after Tammy Faye had commented on how pretty Harley was in one of her profile pictures. I wondered at the time how on earth she could possibly compliment my husband’s mistress, knowing we were together still. It hurt me to the core that she could spend so much time telling her how pretty she was every two weeks when she changed her profile picture, but she couldn’t be bothered to tell me even once.

That new-to-me, finally completed corridor brings up a lot of memories, and not all of them are good.

The highway with the funny name (Bangerter) that ran from one end of the Salt Lake Valley to the other and which was dotted first with stoplights at the major streets, and then with weird left turn interchanges has been changed to overpasses with exit ramps where most of the lights used to be. There is still endless amounts of construction going on.

I would get on a freeway and think I would know where I was and then pass a store I recognized and realize I wasn’t where I thought I was. That, or the freeway was taking me in circles and I didn’t realize it before. Or perhaps I forgot.

There was the moment at Lagoon when we were standing in a massive line to buy tickets, only to turn around and stand in another line to enter the park. I looked over at the kiosks where the season pass holders could enter and recalled all the seasons we had summer passes. We’d go up for a few hours sometimes because it didn’t matter if we rode everything or not. We’d be back later that week, or maybe the next week.

I did laugh about the time I lost Rock Star and her best friend. They had gone off to ride the roller coaster and we somehow got separated. I came up with the genius idea to crumble up Doritos so I could spell out a message for them: Stay here! I came back twice to find the crumbs were scattered all over and thought birds had pecked at the pieces and helped themselves to a tasty treat. I found out much later that those two rotten girls had seen the message and just wiped the Doritos away so that they could keep riding the rides without interruption.

As our week progressed I pointed out places that meant something to us. Here’s Scheel’s, a huge sporting goods store with an aquarium that goes around the store and a giant ferris wheel in the middle of the store. That’s the aquarium I took the kids to; they just moved from Sandy to Draper as we were leaving. They’ve got penguins and an anaconda. Lots of cool displays and set ups. Here’s where we lived. That’s the grocery store I ran to when I was out of something. There’s Jordan Landing. Look at how much it’s changed! They’ve got a Cafe Rio and a Waffle Love now. That’s the Walmart where I grocery shopped. There’s my kids’ dentist office. This is where my kids’ pediatrician was. That’s where I used to get my hair done until my stylist started doing hair out of her house. Hey, where’s Lani’s Snow Cones? They used to be right here, in the parking lot across the street from my former vet’s office. And that’s the Real soccer stadium. Huge controversy when they built that despite the voters saying, “No!” Oh, and there’s the ER where I spent many a days with my kids. And here are the malls we went to. There’s the Trax station; that was just built about a year before we left. We used to take it downtown so we didn’t have to worry about parking. We even ended up stopping in Park City and going right by one of the gyms where Rock Star competed every February once she reached Optionals. And although we didn’t spend a lot of time hanging out downtown going back there and seeing the outdoor shopping malls, especially the one that opened shortly before we left, was difficult. This all used to be at our fingertips. There was so much and we gave it all up to move to Harrisonburg, VA where they didn’t even have an Olive Garden and the food court at their mall consisted of one Chinese place and an ice cream shop. There were so many memories that accompanied this trip.

The hardest part though was hearing my friend tell the mobster stories about me and who I used to be. It wasn’t a bad thing. She was being very complimentary. More of a, “Oh my gosh! Let me tell you how amazing Sam was!” 

Let me preface this by saying I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people in my day to day life about what my life used to be like. I’m pretty open about what happened to me as far as my husband cheating on me with his cousin, leaving Virginia without a word to me or the kids, and abandoning his children, but I don’t talk about what my life used to be like. I don’t go on and on about my former life as a stay at home mom, or a PTA president, or all the places I took the kids, or the things that we used to do. I do occasionally talk about missing my pool, but aside from that I don’t talk about the big house I used to live in or the shopping sprees I used to be able to go on. I don’t talk about my walk in closet or my multiple bathrooms or how I decorated the house because I had nothing else to do. The mobster and I talk about that part very little because it doesn’t matter anymore. It used to be. It’s not anymore. And to be clear it’s not as if that’s all my friend wanted to talk about but when telling the stories of our girls growing up together you end up talking about that previous life because that was the way things used to be.

My friend works full time. Always has. Our girls were the same age and best friends. I frequently took her daughter to Lagoon and the water park and hiking and the roller skating rink and all the other places we would go in the summer. Her daughter was the only kid I allowed to spend the night on a school night and vice versa. On late start days in middle school, if she slept over, I’d take them both to Kneaders for breakfast. The mobster was regaled with stories of how I did everything with and for my kids. I was constantly running them from one activity to another. I took them places constantly. I was always busy and always doing things with them.

My friend went on to tell the mobster how her daughter would come home and tell her, “She’s the best mom!” Yeah, that was me. I was the best mom, was being the important part of that sentence. Now I’m the barely-ok-sometimes-adequate mom.

The mobster was also treated to stories about how I was Ms. PTA President. I knew everybody. I did everything. I was so involved up at the school. As my friend put it, “Sam worked her ass off up at that school!” Yes, I did put in quite a bit of effort for Teacher Appreciation. I wanted my teachers to feel appreciated and loved. I enjoyed doing it. Everyone knew me. Everyone raved about me. Everyone loved me. I had a purpose. Today? I couldn’t tell you the names of Picasso’s teachers the last four years, with the exception of his biology teacher. That’s only because it was the same damn teacher I had for biology back in 1983.

Don’t get me wrong. This new life is not the path I thought I was going to take; it’s not the life I thought I was going to live. But it’s a good life. Most days I enjoy it and I’m happy. I met the love of my life. I have a job finally that will actually support me. I just moved into my new office. I didn’t sacrifice my kids for this new life and my happiness. Despite both of them struggling with mental health issues they are doing well. Rock Star is entering her senior year and moving in with the boyfriend. I have high hopes Picasso will return to work soon. I have accepted that the old life is gone. But damn- all of those memories, even if what my friend was doing was bragging on me and lifting me up, they still hurt. It was another realization that that life was over. Who I was back then is nothing like who I am now. I went from PTA mom who knew all the teachers to the mom whose son barely graduated high school. I went from being the mom who kept my kids busy five days out of seven (I rarely took them places on the weekends) to the mom that can literally stay in her pajamas all weekend long. I went from having good, close friends that I hung out with, went to lunch with, went on trips with, to having mostly acquaintances. I am not the same person I was and I don’t necessarily think it’s a positive change.

I think my kids got cheated out of a great mom. I had to go back to work and I had to work a lot in the beginning- 6 and 7 days a week in the beginning, crazy hours, very little sleep. Even now I don’t have time to myself like I once did and they suffer because of it. Instead of running everywhere with them and trying to find things they might like I would rather hang out at home and chill.

Going back there brought back how much Jerry Lee took from us, especially how much he took from Rock Star and Picasso.

It’s a bit overdramatic to proclaim that I will never forgive him for what he did; however, out of all of the things that he’s done moving us out of Utah and then ditching us for Harley is definitely one of his all time lows. I truly don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for that.

Ironically, my daughter’s boyfriend fell in love with Utah the moment he landed. They are legitimately looking into moving there after she graduates. It’s not only because of the boyfriend. 

Rock Star recalls her childhood as being amazing (and it was). Her friend told her she really appreciates how I didn’t let them stay on their screens all the time and took them places, which I found a little funny. I never restricted TV or phones. I just found things to do with them and took them. Plus, I didn’t have a smart phone myself for most of their early childhood. They didn’t have phones either until they were 5th or 6th grade so it wasn’t even me keeping them off of them. Rock Star envisions raising her children the same way, keeping them off of their phones and making sure they have plenty of adventures outdoors. The problem is my kids had that life because I didn’t work. I’m about 99% sure we would not have had season passes to the amusement park if I had to take them on the weekends throughout the summer. The lines are horrible. I hate crowds. I wouldn’t have done it. Our weekends probably wouldn’t have been jam packed with activities because I would have been tired after working all week. She’s comparing what I did for her and her brother as a stay at home mom to her being a working mom. I hope she’s better at balancing the two than I am. But she also talks about how everything feels so much safer out there. She wants to feel comfortable letting her kids ride their bikes and wander around their neighborhood.

If going back to Utah is what she really wants then I hope she gets the chance to do that. I know Picasso would return in a heartbeat as well. The mobster loved it out there and was ready to move, too, but he needs to be practical. His kids are all in the eastern part of the United States- West Virginia, Virginia and New Hampshire. As for me? I would love to return but there’s no way I could ever afford it. Thanks to the smartest man you’ll ever meet we sold our house for $20,000 less than what we purchased it for 8 years prior in order to make this cross country move for his “dream job”. Seven years later it’s going for around double what we sold it for. His genius continues. Because he let our house go into foreclosure neither of us has any money for a down payment, not that we would have made much of a profit seeing as how our mortgage was less than a year old when Jerry Lee took up with his cousin again.  Average homes in average subdivisions are going for $500,000 or more out there. I can’t afford a $200,000 home, much less a $500,000 home. You need a $100,000 down payment and your mortgage is still over $2000 a month. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m stuck here because returning to Utah permanently is out of the question for me. Instead, I’ll have to be content going back every few years and trying to relearn my way around the valley. Grrr!

Here’s to my next trip and fewer triggers.

The Terrible Tragedy That Time Forgot

Do you know what today is? It’s June 11th. That means yesterday was June 10th. It went by without notice by me. I mean, obviously I knew the date. I wrote several reports that day at work citing the date, but it did not give me a single pause.

I went back to see what I wrote about the date last year. Apparently I forgot about it last year as well. The year before I didn’t realize the significance until the day was almost over.

When my world came crashing down on me on that date back in 2016 I thought for sure I would never forget that day. That was the beginning of a very dark period in my life.

These last two years it’s gone back to being just another day and I am so thankful for that. Life does indeed go on. 

If there is one thing I could burn into the brains of those people who are just now going through what I went through it would be that it gets better. It really does. You may not believe it now but the pain will go away. You will gain a life. You will smile and laugh again. You may or may not find love again. You will find happiness. And you will forget those horrible dates.

The Warm, Soft Glow of Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is to sit in the still darkness while the Christmas lights softly glow around me. There is something so peaceful about this. I think the best time to do this is in the early morning when everyone is sleeping and all you can hear are the quiet sounds of the household. I sit there quietly, sometimes reading on my phone, sometimes doing nothing, and let the feeling of Christmas wash over me.

It seems like every time I’m with the mobster we are going, going, going! We go a hundred miles an hour, trying to wring every last second out of our time together. It’s usually on that very last day or evening that we finally sit and simply take it all in. It’s kind of like those moments in the dark in front of the Christmas tree.

This year when I went down to visit him for our Christmas together we made it a point to sit on his screened in porch in front of one of his two Christmas trees and just be. We had a cup of coffee and there may have been food. I don’t remember. We looked at the lights and simply enjoyed our quiet time together. In fact, that’s where we ended up opening our gifts to one another as well.

I think that maybe what I’ve been searching for these last few years is the feeling of Christmas. The Hallmark movies I enjoy the most are the ones that show the town coming together and people enjoying traditions and time spent with loved ones. It’s the spirit of Christmas and how they show that. I don’t care about the love story. They could have an entire movie about the town’s Christmas festival and if they didn’t showcase a single romance I would not be sad at all. Sitting quietly while I watch the lights brings that feeling back to me, if only for a few minutes.

Now, in our household, all things Christmas are done. The decorations are put away. The lights will wait until next year to make another appearance. My daughter is already headed back to school. Thankfully I have the mobster’s visit on New Year’s Eve to keep the holiday blues at bay.

Now it’s on to holiday leftovers. Get ready for the New Year, everyone. 

Huh… So This Happened 8 Years Ago Today

I came across this tonight.

Screenshot_20200406-191012_Facebook

Just to be clear the original post was simply about setting Jerry Lee up on Facebook. I added the rest of that a few years later. 🙂

We were in Kentucky for Easter when I did this. Staying with Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake. He had resisted forever and I thought it would be funny to create a profile for him. In hindsight I don’t think funny was the correct word. Tragic. Life changing. Foolish. Let’s go with a moment in time that irrevocably changed the course of my life and the lives of my children. But that’s not all!

This was the same weekend that Jezebel took Jerry Lee to meet her future husband, #3. Completely excluded me. Gave me a bullshit story about how they never got to do anything just the two of them. I was stupid enough to believe that. He was already lying and I hadn’t a clue.

By April or May of the next year, 2013, Jerry Lee was cheating on me with Harley. In May, Mother’s Day weekend in fact, he admitted to texting her and swore he would end it. In June, Jezebel and #3 got married. Good ol’ Jerry Lee went by himself to the wedding. By himself I mean without his wife and children. I’m fairly certain that they met up that weekend. They certainly had plans to. They were even going to get tattoos together. And in August I found out he hadn’t ended it with Harley after all.

This time of year in 2014 we were replacing carpet and flooring in our Utah home as we prepared to move across the country to Virginia. Two months later we would buy a home in Harrisonburg and three months later we, the kids and I, would make the move and join Jerry Lee.

This time of year in 2015 I was suicidal. My gut was screaming at me but I continued to bury my head in the sand. Surely he wouldn’t move us across the country, invest all the money we had invested in this new life, and then turn around and take up with Harley again. Oh, but he would. Almost four months to the day I would find out about his affair with Harley.

Eight years ago today I ended my life as I knew it. I had no clue at that moment what I had just done.

 

Life’s About Changing… Nothing Ever Stays the Same

As you know my word for the year is change. Since choosing that word I’ve noticed how much change happens, regardless of what we may choose. Honestly, I’ve known that for a while but with this being “my” word for the year I will probably be writing quite a bit about it.

Change is inevitable. People die. People move. Friendships fade. New friendships are made. I’ve experienced a lot of that over the course of my life. When you move every 2 1/2 years for the first five or six years of your marriage you get used to the constant upheaval. Then you start to settle in after that 2 1/2 year mark and you begin to think, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the place I’ll remain.”

I thought that way after we moved to Michigan the second time. It was different. We had a child now. It wasn’t just the two of us. Jerry Lee settled in. Until that call came six years later, telling him they had an exciting offer for him. They wanted him to take over as the production manager in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City? I knew nothing of Utah except Mormons. I’d never lived west of the Mississippi. Nevertheless, I gave him the go ahead and we moved. I called my best friend crying only weeks before we moved. I watched my precious children flounder in their new surroundings. I missed having family close by and missing out on so much. Yet somehow it all worked itself out. I fell in love with the state. I made great friends. I got involved. My children made friends. Rock Star devoted her life to gymnastics. Picasso fell in love with hockey after trying out just about every other sport under the sun. We spent eight amazing years out there.

Jerry Lee always said we would never leave so I began to feel like Utah was the place I would remain. Until Harley came along.

But this isn’t about Michigan, or Utah, or even Virginia. It’s about my 2 1/2 years living in Olive Branch, Mississippi. It’s about the fact that living there was one of the happiest times of my life. It’s also about the fact that now Jerry Lee and Harley are there, defiling this place that I once loved so much.

We had been married less than a year when Jerry Lee took a job with PCA up in Michigan. While living there we took a week long vacation at the end of May and visited Memphis to see Graceland and the zoo, and then headed over to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I’m sure the fact that Michigan was experiencing a very cold spring (that morning I left for vacation the wind chill brought the temperature down to zero) didn’t help, but we both fell in love with Memphis. I loved Beale Street. I loved the food. I can’t explain it; I just loved it. I didn’t even mind the humidity. A little less than two and a half years later he was offered a job in Olive Branch, which is right outside of Memphis, Tennessee. In fact, when I lived there I would often hear it described as, “Memphis’s fastest growing suburb”, which I always thought was interesting considering they were in different states.

We had an amazing group of friends. Jerry Lee was actually social. There were quite a few transplants working at the plant so they hung around together quite a bit. It was nothing for us to go out to dinner in a group of 12-14 people. Robert and Judy. Bev and Tommy. Arch and Alice. Kevin and Kelly. The good Aunt Judy (who would later turn out to be the bad Aunt Judy) and her daughter, Sheri. Julie. Eric. We went to each other home’s. Some of us bowled together. We had parties. We went out to dinner. We went to football games (okay, once we went to Knoxville to see a football game but we couldn’t get tickets). I had a key to Bev and Tommy’s house. We were such good friends we were at the point where we just walked into each other’s homes. I spent a lot of time in their above ground pool and hot tub. I went out to dinner with Bev, Judy and Judy every week while Jerry Lee and Tommy played golf. Arch and Alice trusted us enough to leave their son with us on the rare weekend they managed to get away. We exchanged Christmas presents and spent holidays together if we didn’t go home. We would go to the restaurant Robert and Judy owned, The Oasis, and eat dinner, talk with the locals. One time the place got overwhelmingly busy and neither Judy nor Robert was  there. Bev and I jumped up from our table and began helping out. We ran the register, got drinks, ran food out. I got pregnant while living in Olive Branch. I had three separate baby showers and lovingly decorated a nursery in classic Winnie the Pooh. I  brought my baby daughter home to that house. They had a brand new high school there and I envisioned my little Rock Star graduating from that high school one day. Rock Star was surrounded by people who loved her. Judy, Judy, Bev, and Tommy were all at least 10 years older than me, and in some cases 20 years older. A baby was a welcome addition. We finished our upstairs and now had a five bedroom house. I had a life there and I loved it.

Then Jerry Lee got fired. Seems he and his boss didn’t get along. So he was hired back on at PCA. He had an area VP that loved him and had stayed in contact since he left the first time.

At first he was assigned to Manufacturing Services, which is a team of people that travel to various problem plants and try to help them fix whatever issues are plaguing them. That lasted for four months before a position opened at one of the plants. As luck would have it we moved back to the same area and he was at the same plant as he had been before.

We moved, and despite the fact I would once again be only two hours from most of my family, I was devastated. I was losing my friends. I had to start all over.

Now, Jerry Lee and Harley are living there. Funny aside- I think he’s actually in the subdivision his old boss that fired him lived in. Her kids are going to be the ones graduating from Olive Branch High School. She gets to shop at all the great places in Memphis. She gets to visit Graceland and go down to Beale Street. She gets to marvel at those beautiful red clay roads. She can eat all the fried catfish and BBQ she wants to. She can go to the fantastic Memphis Zoo. In short, she gets to pick up where I left off, in one of my favorite cities.

When I first heard the news that they were living in Olive Branch I’ll admit it took me back a moment. I had this, “WTF” moment and probably a brief feeling of jealousy. They moved back to one of my favorite places and they replaced me with her. How did I feel about that?

I’ll be honest. When I heard that the Olive Branch Catfish Company was no longer in business I felt a little better.

Oh, such great memories of time spent there. Our realtor took us there when we were down looking for a house. If you like catfish you would have loved this place. It was amazing. And always packed. They had added on at least twice to the original restaurant. Our large group of friends would gather there on a Friday or Saturday night. Wait an hour or more to get a table. And then enjoy that amazing fried catfish (although you could have it grilled if you chose). We always took visiting friends and family there as well.

I’m glad Harley doesn’t get to experience the Olive Branch Catfish Company. I’m happy that Jerry Lee doesn’t have access to it either. Ha! It’s a small, selfish, silly victory.

That aside, I realize that my Olive Branch no longer exists. Kevin and Kelly moved away probably a year before we did. Robert and Judy, who had been together for many, many years, went their separate ways and Judy spent most of her time in Hot Springs, Arkansas after that. I found out years later that Robert had died. As I said earlier the good Aunt Judy turned out to be the bad Aunt Judy. She had an affair with Tommy, Bev’s husband. They divorced. Bev put the house on the market and it sold within 24 hours. I held onto my key to their house for years until finally I threw it away. Bev eventually moved down to Jackson. Judy and Tommy got married and then divorced 2-3 years later. Arch and Alice moved back to Chicago. Eric moved back to his hometown of Corinth, which was probably 2 hours or so south of Olive Branch. He got his ex-wife pregnant and married her again and then went on to have one more child with her. He left Menasha sometime after Jerry Lee got fired. Julie went to work at a different corrugated plant and then eventually remarried her ex-husband and moved back to Tennessee, although I’m not sure what order that took place. Sheri, who was just a young teen back then, is married with a daughter and a son on the way. She lives in Florida now and is a stepmom to two older girls.

Life’s about changing; nothing ever stays the same. Even if he didn’t get fired the Olive Branch I knew and loved wouldn’t be there. All of our friends are gone. We would have watched as Arch and Alice moved back home, and we would have had a front row seat as Bev and Tommy’s marriage exploded and we were faced with the fact that Judy was the other woman. And then I would have been left behind when Bev made her move to Jackson. Maybe there would have been new friends as Rock Star, and then Picasso, began high school. Or as new people were hired on at the plant. Then again, maybe those few years were like lightning in a bottle- never to be captured again.

That high school I envisioned my daughter going to? It had only recently been built and they were already using multiple portables because they had outgrown the building. Apparently a lot of parents were not fans of the Memphis school system. That high school probably doesn’t exist anymore. My guess is they have already built a new one.

If I were to visit I’m not sure I would know my way around anymore. It’s been 19 years since I lived there and 17 years since I last visited.

I can still see that shopping area with the Kroger, the cheesesteaks, Applebee’s, and Cookout. I think there was an eye center there as well. I remember where the new Wal-mart was built. But who knows what’s there now?

I would love to take my kids to Memphis one day because I love the city. Maybe I would take them over into Olive Branch as well. Show Rock Star where she lived when she was a baby. Show them where Bev and Tommy lived. Show them where the Olive Branch Catfish Company used to be.

I know it’s no longer the Olive Branch I once knew and loved; it’s only a treasured memory now. What made it so special was the people, and the people are all gone.

I’m fine with Jerry Lee and Harley living there. It takes nothing away from me and my memories. It won’t ever be replicated. I doubt very much that they’ve made friends, and that was the best part of it. Even if they have it doesn’t change the fact that they’re not living in my Olive Branch. My Olive Branch is gone. They can have this new one.

Sunday Dinner

When I was a little girl I remember my grandma making Sunday dinner. Beef and noodles. Fried chicken. Ham loaf. Pot roast. Pork chops. With side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, wilted lettuce, many different salads, cinnamon rolls.

I always thought it would be nice to have Sunday dinners again. Most of the time, of course, I lived several hundred, if not over a thousand, miles away. Then I moved back to Indiana. It’s been three years and I kept thinking we should have a Sunday family dinner.

Yesterday, I finally followed through. I invited my brother and his family, a few single friends, and Rock Star and her roommate. We ended up with seven people gathering round for dinner and an eighth showing up after work.

I made two meatloaves, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, and a salad. All topped off with a cake. It was delicious. It was also a lot of work!

I started making the meatloaves around 10 in the morning and just kept cooking. I didn’t use instant potatoes this time. I peeled those suckers, cut them up, boiled them, and then mashed them. The green beans were fried up in bacon grease and then simmered for almost an hour.

It got super hot in the house. We were opening windows and changing into shorts and short sleeved shirts.

After dinner I was ready for a nap!

It was a good time. I’m going to start out slowly. My goal is once a month, and I’ll work my way up from there.

Here’s to Sunday dinners!

This is the meatloaf recipe I used. It’s a combination of two different recipes I’ve posted before. I really feel like this is “the one”. It combines all the best parts of each recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m going to toot my own horn for a minute, and I really hope I’m not overselling this recipe but my niece and both friends told me it was delicious. Queen B had second thoughts about showing up because meatloaf isn’t her favorite but she said this one was really good. She loved how moist it was and raved about the glaze. My friend Sweet J asked me to share the recipe and my other friend agreed that it was amazing.

Sam’s Amazing Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ c milk
  • 3 slices of bread torn into small pieces
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1/2 c ketchup, divided
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • ½ c onion, diced
  • 1 oz pkg ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese

For the glaze:

  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard
Instructions:
  1. Combine your eggs, milk, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine gently.
  3. Now you have two choices. You can shape it into a loaf and bake it on a cookie sheet with a lip, or put it in a loaf pan. Or you can make a mound in your greased slow cooker.
  4. Combine the three ingredients for the glaze and spread over the meatloaf.
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 90 minutes. Or cook on low in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours,