Time flies when you’re having fun. Six years ago today I had my U-Haul packed up and I loaded my two kids and the three dogs into our multiple vehicles and headed off towards Indiana. My brother drove the U-Haul and took Picasso with him. My mom had her own car, although I’m not sure if Rock Star drove with her or me. I’m fairly confident I had all of the dogs.
I remember crying as I drove out of the neighborhood. It was not supposed to be like this; however, with Jerry Lee basically getting fired and deciding that he wasn’t going to go back to work anytime soon, I didn’t have much of a choice. Even if I started working right away I wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage, even if that’s the only thing I paid each month.
I remember pulling into my mom’s driveway, going into the house, and thinking, “Now what?”
Now shit would get real. I had to enroll kids in school. I had to apply for Medicaid because this was back when you were fined for not having insurance. I had to apply for free lunches and textbooks. I had to find a job, which would end up taking three months. I would end up getting hired on at the bank in another month but wouldn’t start until January.
Six years. Huh. I suppose a lot has changed in those six years. I made it through the divorce. I made it through working two jobs. I met the mobster. I finally have a bed and a bedroom of my own. I finally have a job where I make a decent amount of money instead of crossing my fingers each month that Jerry Lee will pay his support in full and not modify it yet again. I finally have a kick ass legal agreement that puts Jerry Lee in jail if he fails to pay. Rock Star will soon graduate and will be fully launched by this time next year. Picasso is working on it.
And while this happens EVERY year today is also National Cheesecake Day. If you live close to a Cheesecake Factory you can go in and get yourself a slice of cheesecake. I think it was free, but it may be half price now. You can’t get carry out but you don’t need to order anything other than the cheesecake in the restaurant. Go get yourself some cheesecake! Make this day a happy one!
Eight years ago today I climbed in my minivan with my daughter, my niece, and my three dogs and 2 cats and began the drive from Utah to Virginia. It was supposed to be the beginning of a new life. In a way, I guess it was. Just not the way I had originally thought.
The trip would take 3 days. We would stop the first night in Grand Island, Nebraska. It was a good 12 hours into our trip. Maybe more. We would make it to South Bend the second day so I could drop off my niece. Plus, I wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel room because I would stay at my mom’s house. The third day Rock Star, the dogs, and the cats, and I would finish up the trip- a mere 8 hours.
If you remember anything about foreshadowing from your days of high school English then you should know I should have realized this move was going to be a disaster. The engine in my car was overheating, or doing some other funny thing. I took it into a dealership the following morning before our trip began. They couldn’t get the part in that day but were willing to try to rig something up for me so I could make it “home”. Looking back I remember thinking I absolutely HAD to be there for when the movers came. In hindsight I should have waited for the damn part and just hung out in Indiana. But no! I was so worried about poor Jerry Lee, and how he would deal with the movers all by his little self. So I got in the car and preceded to listen to the damn door chime for the next 8-10 hours. I had asked them to pull the fuse at the dealership and they looked at me like I had grown a second head. Jerry Lee helpfully sent me a diagram but I’m no mechanic. The fuse remained and I got to listen to the door chime all the way to Virginia. But wait! There’s more!
The trip to Harrisonburg from South Bend is mainly toll roads so why I had my GPS on from the beginning I don’t know. I had bought a new charger for my car. I’m not sure what exactly happened. Maybe the charger wasn’t pushed in all the way, but about 2 hours before we hit our destination my phone died and my brand new charger wasn’t working. My GPS was my only source of directions. I had been to my new house twice and both of those times had occurred over a month prior to this visit. I wasn’t sure I could find Jerry Lee’s hotel. I was panicking. With some quick thinking we managed to contact a friend back in Utah who placed a call to Jerry Lee. I think we were able to get directions off of Rock Star’s iPad. She wrote them down so we would have them if her iPad died. She told me later she feared I was going to drive off the mountain.
I don’t recall being that upset but between leaving hours later than we planned, the dinging that went on for approximately 10 hours, the fact my engine light was once again coming on, and having no fucking clue where I was going, I might have been a little stressed.
That trip was my harbinger of doom. I ignored it. Just like I ignored all of Harley’s pictures on her Facebook and the fact she had taken her wedding picture down. Just like I ignored the supposed name snafu where Jerry Lee was going to register the deed to our new house in his name only because one of our names had a typo in it. I still remember telling him, “You better make sure this is what you want because once I make this move you’re stuck with me.” I was telling him he had one last chance to pull the plug on our marriage and go chase down the gold digging whore. Go get her if that’s what you want, but if that’s the case then don’t drag me and the kids away to Virginia away from all of our friends and the lives that we love. You know the story. Liars lie. Turns out he wasn’t stuck with me. He just up and quit his job and moved out of the state he drug us to.
A year after moving in I found out Jerry Lee and Harley were back at it. If they had ever stopped. Two years after moving in I sold off all the furniture I could, had a giant yard sale, and left everything else behind when the kids and I moved to Indiana and in with my mom. Both of the cats that made the trip with us died while we were in Virginia and I only have one of those dogs today. My kids have grown up, too.
Eight years. A lot has changed. Looking back at those pictures and those of the days leading up to the move, I had no idea what was in store for me or my kids.
It’s trigger season- that lovely time of the year when all of my Facebook memories show me visiting with my family and friends in Indiana and Utah right before the axe dropped. It’s full of updates about my pool. The trip out to Virginia to buy a house. Our bucket list of things to do before we moved. Pictures of our house in Utah up for sale. Pictures of us moving into our new home in Virginia. Pictures of all of our new furniture and how I decorated my house. It’s right around the time I found out about Harley the first time. It’s June now which means, not D Day, but the day he texted me to tell me he had lost his job and wouldn’t be sending anymore money my way. June 10th. And Father’s Day. Always a jolly holiday in our household. I’ve still got pictures of me renting a U-Haul so the kids and I could move to Indiana after Jerry Lee lost his job to look forward to in late July and August is the month of both of my D-Days- the 10th and the 14th. So many memories to trudge through. Or avoid.
This year, though, it’s been kinda “meh”. Maybe I’m simply too busy with work. I had already put in 38 or 39 hours by the time I logged onto the computer Thursday morning. It’s going to be a hell of a week this week, too.
June 10th came and went with no fanfare, which is exactly what I want. When it first happened it overshadowed DDay as the worst day ever. I thought that day would be a looming anniversary forever. An indelible memory. But once again it passed with almost no notice. I was actually sitting on the couch and I thought to myself, “Oh! Did I completely miss it this year?” I was quite excited and happy. And then I realized it was June 10th. So, it’s still there slightly niggling at my brain, but it’s like a cobweb that I can swipe away.
Today was Father’s Day. It was no biggie. I guess I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t had to deal with my kids happily trotting off with Jerry Lee and Harley, playing happy new family. I do, however, think about my kids and the fact that their father is such a piece of shit. I’ve said before it will never NOT hurt when he hurts my kids. The fact that neither of my children has a real father they can rely on hurts them, so it hurts me. I believe that in past years Rock Star and Picasso would acknowledge me on Father’s Day. One year I bought myself a Father’s Day gift. This year, though, it was very “meh”. None of us acknowledged it. It was just another day.
It’s nice when it gets to that point. It’s also a little weird. I often think it should mean more. I’m glad it doesn’t.
Next month will mark 6 years since I moved back to Indiana. It will also mark 8 years since we left Utah. I was all set to write a maudlin post next month about how July marks a turning point. We’ve been out of Utah as long as we lived there and every day henceforth would mark more time out of Utah, than in. Perhaps that’s when it becomes a reality. You realize the life you left behind has been gone longer than you had it.
Then I did the math and realized that we weren’t there for a full 8 years. We moved there in November of 2006. We moved to Virginia in July of 2014. We were in Utah 7 years and 8 months. Without even realizing it we were already living this new life outside of Utah longer than we had been living our lives in Utah. Once the math was done and I acknowledged that July wouldn’t be the start of the time clock, that the countdown clock had in fact already begun, it quickly became another “meh” moment. No use in reminiscing. What’s done is done.
It is getting late and I have another long day tomorrow.
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.
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.
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.
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
I hope everyone reading my blog by now knows that I am completely over Jerry Lee. That ship 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.
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!
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.
I met my cousin in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart less than a mile from my former home. She is a float pharmacist so she has an area where she will fill in where they need help. That particular Wal-Mart is one of the stores where she fills in, and that’s why I chose to meet her there.
It’s a strange thing. I lived in Whoreville, or Harrisonburg as the natives call it, for only two years. I was learning my way around. I wouldn’t call myself a pro but I was definitely learning the tips and tricks to make navigating the city easier. When Picasso and I got into the city we went directly to the lawyer’s office and then off to Wal-Mart. I was amazed that I knew the way still. I passed by Waterman Street (or maybe Avenue, I don’t know for certain), and remarked to Picasso, “I used to always call this Watermelon Street because I didn’t read the sign correctly and thought that was what it was one time.” I passed by the city high school and one of the houses that had been on my list to look at when we were house hunting.
I missed the hidden turn off as I drove by. I knew it was there but I wasn’t sure that was it. I ended up having to go to the intersection and then turning. I passed by the “Jesus Barn”, as Picasso called it, and the Exxon where I used to put air in my tires. I passed by the KFC where I bought our last meal we ate while living there.
The Wal-Mart is part of a shopping center. To the left is the nail salon where I would go and get my nails done. To the right of the nail salon is the liquor store where I bought CF his last anniversary gift from me- 3 bottles of bourbon. And further down you can spy the stalls for the horse drawn buggies.
That was my Wal-Mart. That’s where I grocery shopped most of the time. That’s where I ran to when I was out of something, or had forgotten an ingredient for dinner. It was about a mile from my house so it was my go to store whenever I needed something quickly. It’s where Rock Star and my two nieces drove to buy more butterscotch chips so I would make more Scotcheroos right after Thanksgiving.
For some unknown reason Madonna’s song “This Used to Be My Playground” popped into my head. I tweaked the lyrics a bit to fit my situation.
This used to be my Wal-Mart
This used to be the place I shopped
This used to be the place I ran to
when I would run out of things
Or when I
Forgot something I needed
I know; I know! Get a grip, Sam. Stop being so maudlin! It’s a damn Wal-Mart. They have them all over the country.
I do know that. I think part of it is simply the whiplash I experienced in those two years. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t particularly like it there. It was too small. I had no friends. I missed my old life. I was starting all over again and it was proving rather difficult to do. Then again, I only had two years there. I only had one year before my life blew up.
I saw how much my daughter loved it. I feel an intense connection with the state (commonwealth) because it’s where I was born. It’s where my Mamaw lived. It’s where I still have dozens of cousins. It’s also beautiful. There’s so much to see and explore. I may not have been particularly fond of Harrisonburg but I love Virginia and I was beginning to warm to the place. I was beginning to truly love my house and feel like it was my dream home. I finally had my pool. Then BOOM!
I still remember driving into my neighborhood. The view was breath taking. I remember wishing so badly that I could stay, that I could continue living in my house and my kids could continue on with their lives they had forged there.
That Wal-Mart is simply another piece of the puzzle that was tossed aside and discarded. It’s almost like a dream. I’m pretty sure it all happened but it was over so quickly I can’t be certain. Of course, if it didn’t happen how in the hell did I end up back in Indiana?