It was Super Bowl weekend and I was in the beginning of some of the most painful days, weeks, months, years of my life. It was about a week and a half after my husband of many years had informed me he was leaving. He had said, simply, “I have to go.” He denied that there was anyone else, stating merely that he was not happy and was never going to be happy.
And, like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
He had decided to leave, but I had begged him to stay, regardless of his decision. I guess I was buying time. I was still in Stage One of trying to get him to change his mind, not accepting that the marriage was in Stage Four: non-operable, treatment resistant and terminal.
A few days before Super Bowl Sunday my husband went on a pre-planned, pre-paid SCUBA trip which had been booked about six weeks before he broke up with me — really that’s what it felt like — but I digress . . . The trip itself was not completely out of character because he belongs to a club and went on trips a couple of times a year. What was odd was that he had scheduled the trip during Super Bowl weekend. What was completely crazy was that he was still going on vacation after telling me he was leaving me and while I was a sobbing heap on the floor.
What’s worse, my kids, who are unusually healthy, freakishly healthy — I mean I have five kids and I only remember dealing with two ear infections — ever — had come down with the flu, high fevers and all.
All five children had the flu. All five. Flu. They were too sick to even take to the store. I had to get my Dad to come over while I went grocery shopping.
I was housebound with five sick children. My husband had gone to the Bahamas.
Huh. Signs of things to come.
Although I was crying all the time (I told the kids I was sick, too) having him out of the house for a few days gave me random moments of clarity which tapped into my common sense.
Long story short: It was during Super Bowl weekend that I uncovered uncontroverted evidentiary support leading me to the conclusion that my husband was not in fact on a trip with his SCUBA Club. To the contrary, he was on a romantic island vacation with another woman.
Like how I lawyered that up? It’s a defense mechanism of mine to deal with painful topics. But in straight talk, I found out that my husband, who had simply announced after double digits of marriage, “I have to go” was on a beach getaway with another woman, a jaunt he had booked a month before he informed me he was leaving me. He was frolicking in the sand and surf with someone new, while I was heartbroken and housebound with five children suffering from the flu. (Rhyme unintended but I kinda like it so I’m keeping it.)
Stupid Super Bowl weekend. That was a long weekend. A long game. And the daggone Super Bowl happens every year and I get a little reminder of some of my worst days.
Just Me With . . . ghosts from Super Bowl’s past.
This happened some time ago. It’s all back story, the abridged version. I have a memory too good for my own good, see The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?, when I reflected on the date my divorce became final and damn near wrecked the car. When I’ve gone through something difficult, especially something which coincides with a holiday or special event, it is hard to ignore, try as I might. See A Sad and Disturbing True Halloween Story.
I’m better now. I’m not crying about it, at least not about him leaving me. It took years and thousands of dollars, but my divorce is final and he has remarried. He did not marry the Bahamas woman, in case you were wondering, that relationship didn’t work out — and that’s all I have to say about that.
The pain has decreased over time, but that does not negate the fact that it was a super-duper crappy Super Bowl weekend back then, by anyone’s standards, and I still remember it — like women remember (but don’t feel) labor, like people acknowledge (but don’t celebrate) the anniversary of a death. It’s just there. And it’s okay to acknowledge it — so that I’m not so hard on myself for being where I am now, and also so that I can celebrate how far I have come. Plus, one day I might even write a book.
I know I’m better off without him. But it’s like having a huge life sucking tumor removed — in the end it’s all for the best, but would it have killed somebody to give me a little anesthesia? That mess hurt.
I’m just sayin’ . . .
A couple of weeks after that Super Bowl, one of the kids announced, My Daddy Moved Out.
Here’s a fun fact: As children grow they develop fine motor skills.
So I did what everybody does, I told him, scolded him really:
“Do not ever unbuckle your car seat. It is not safe. Do you understand me? You will get a time-out for that! It is very, very, very important. Do you understand? ”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Him: “Yes, Momma.” He still called me Momma then.
He could tell when Momma wasn’t messing around. I was using my stern voice, my serious face and my angry eyes. Mission accomplished.
But my little Houdini is not my only kid. I had had five kids in all. The three-year-old was just the oldest. Twin girls, twice, came after. Yes, They are Twins, Yes, they are Twins, Too. Consequently, we didn’t get out much. Taking a preschooler, two toddlers and two infants to any store — well, this was not an outing that a person takes lightly. So sometimes when I had to run errands and my mother was with me we would buckle the kids in the car and my mom would stay with them while I would run in and out of stores. It got us out of the house, sometimes the kids would get their naps using this method, and it gave me a little break.
The very next day after the car seat unbuckling incident and lecture, my mom and I decided to load the kids and run some errands. We pulled into the local pharmacy and I ran in. As per usual, my Mom stayed with them in the car. I was gone only a few minutes.
When I came out, my mom was standing outside of the car, all five kids were still strapped in — inside.
The doors were closed.
“This can’t be good,” I thought.
My mother was distraught. Almost in tears.
“I can’t get in.” She said. “The babies started to cry and I got out to calm them down. I — I — I — closed the door . . . and now it’s locked.”
We, the adults, were locked out. The children were locked in. Turns out I was right. This wasn’t good. The keys were in the car.
I tried not to panic. After all, the car was running and the air conditioning was on, so they wouldn’t cook in there . . . but still, it’s not good to leave five children alone in a car and I didn’t know how much gas I had.
Options: I could run home and get an extra set of keys. But that would take too long, and my mother was losing it. I didn’t want to leave her alone with the kids. My husband was never really available during the day and worked too far away, anyway. I could call my Dad to do it, but he’s hard to get a hold of . . . so . . . I guess I’d have to call the police to break into the car. This was not a proud moment. “Why? Why, do I ever leave the house?” I wondered.
Well, hello there, Mr. Panic.
Then I remembered — my son — the big boy, the one who has motor skills!!! The boy can get out of his car seat and unlock the door!!! He has the ability. He has the manual dexterity. I’ve seen him do it — just yesterday. “It was worth a try,” I thought.
And so . . . one day after having scolded the boy for unbuckling his car seat and making him promise never to do it again —
I begged, “Honey,” I spoke kindly but loudly through the closed window, “Momma wants you to UNBUCKLE YOUR CAR SEAT and UNLOCK the door!”
He looked away from me. “Clearly,” his three-year-old mind must have reasoned, “This is some sort of test and I’m not going to fall for it, nope nope.”
I cooed, “No Honey, it’s okay, it’s okay, really, Momma says it’s okay, PLEASE get out and let us in. Please, you won’t be in trouble!!!! I promise!!!!”
I saw him roll his eyes toward the ceiling, away from me. His hands stayed at his sides. He was more still than any three-year-old could possibly be. It was impressive, really.
My mother was crying by this time and apologizing, she felt really, really badly. But I had to get to the kids.
Me to my statue-like son, “Honey, please. Please!!!!!! It’s okay, I promise. Get out of your car seat. Momma needs you to get out of your car seat! PLEASE!!!”
This child would not even acknowledge that I was talking to him. Again, it was impressive. And comical. I had literally just made him promise never to get himself out of his car seat and here I was begging him to do just that. It was like a sitcom.
“Pleeeeeeease!!!! Momma says it’s okay.” But that boy was NOT going to fall for my obvious trickery. “Momma said no,” he must have thought, “Momma said no.”
We had started to draw a crowd. I was beginning to tear up, too. The girls were useless, too young to manipulate their car seats, arms to short to reach the locks. And . . . they’d started to cry again.
This was not good.
In the end, my obedient son never unbuckled his car seat. Some nice gentleman drove me home (I wasn’t far, and thankfully I’d left the house unlocked). I got my spare keys and everybody was fine.
—- Except my mother. It took her a long time to recover.
We didn’t go out for a while after that and when we did, no matter what the kids were doing, my mother never got out of the car again.
Just Me With . . . five car seats, a mom, and a son who had learned his lesson, damn it.
I was a couple of weeks shy of eighteen, we’d been dating for two years. He had recently become my first, I was not his. I loved him. He loved me. One of the things I loved about being with him was the fact that I could be myself. Ididn’t have to prove anything or act a certain way. I didn’t have to try to fit in or be a certain type of girl. He gave me something– not school related — to do. In hindsight, what he provided me was a way to escape those awkward teen years of discovering myself, making choices and mistakes, finding my own way, being proud of who I was and who I wasn’t, making new friends, and learning how to be social. He had already made some decisions about life, had some bad experiences and had strong opinions about almost everything. He was an old soul. I was not. It ate me up.
He was completely against drinking (which is not a bad thing for someone underage, but he would not even go to parties where others might be drinking, even if they were hiding it.) I respected him for that. I supported him in that. He had had a rough upbringing. His mother had a bad reputation, his brother was the local drug dealer, other family members, including siblings and his mother’s boyfriends had addictions, and teen pregnancies were the norm in his family. So having been brought up in the underbelly of suburban drug and alcohol addiction, he swore never the touch the stuff and forbade me to get near it. Forbade. In his family, he was the one good child. He wanted to stay that way. He was painfully shy unless involved in a sport, so he wasn’t one for hanging out. He didn’t want to travel because he didn’t see the need, and was uncomfortable out of our town. He hated the beach, sand; he hated crowds. He was also very possessive and jealous, so he kept me close and would become angry if he felt threatened.
But he was very cute, tall, slim with haunting light eyes.Teachers loved him, though he was not academically oriented or talented. I think, like me, they saw a polite guy who, despite his family, seemed to be a good kid. He was charming that way. People wanted to help him. People wanted to forgive any shortcomings. He had a smile that could and did charm everyone — that is, when he did smile. Most of the time, unless people were looking, he appeared sullen, angry. Some folks were a little scared of him. (Years later a friend described him like this: He’s the kind of guy where when he walks into a room, the temperature drops ten degrees.)
Me? Well, I was an achiever, academically, musically and athletically, but socially I had struggled, been a victim of past bullying. I was a book smart girl from a good (if not wealthy) family; my parents were teachers. My siblings were in college, they had gotten away from our suffocating suburb. I was lonely. I wanted to have fun but I was basically the stereotypical “good girl” from a stable family. I would never want to do anything that would embarrass my family, and my girlfriends weren’t drinkers or party girls either. Still, we liked to go to parties and dances and just have some sober fun. Before I started dating him, I had had only one short relationship with a boy. Nothing to speak of. No broken hearts. I don’t think we ever even went anywhere together. My hymen was still intact.
At my tender teen age, I thought I’d never have a boyfriend. I just wasn’t seen as girlfriend material in my circles. At the time, I truly thought he was my only and best chance at having any attention from a boy, at least any attention from a boy who was respectful to me. He was what I needed.
Miraculously, once I started dating him, the bullying stopped as well as the false rumors about me. (Somehow, I had gained the reputation of being a slut according to popular, misinformed opinion, even though I was a virgin.) But with him, I had support. No one wanted to mess with his girlfriend.
I see now I was co-dependent. But then? I was in love.
I didn’t know. I had nothing to compare him to and no one to talk to about it. My girlfriends weren’t dating, they didn’t know any better than me. My siblings were gone. After having been treated so badly by other kids, I thought this was right. In a way, it did save me. (The reasons for the bullying primarily have to do with race, and are just too much to get into now.) I never told my parents about how I had been treated at school. I should have. An early, huge regret, one of many to come.
He and I were inseparable, but completely antisocial. We rarely went anywhere with or around other people. He didn’t want to be around people. Usually we went to movies or hung out at his or my house. He met me at my locker every morning. We met between classes. (We never had classes together, I was in the college prep courses, he was not). We were such a cute, dysfunctional couple. Both tall, and we even looked a bit alike.
One night, there was a Friday night basketball game, as usual. He was a star player, I was a cheerleader. (I know, gag me, and this did not mean I was popular). We never went to the parties afterward, though, if there were any. But this night, for some reason, he decided he wanted to go to a party. I don’t know why. I never knew why. He usually was against such behavior. He told me to go home, I wasn’t allowed to go with him. Obediently, I went home. Telling me what I was allowed or not allowed to do was normal for us.
I didn’t see him for the rest of the weekend, which sometimes happened since neither one of us had a car, and in addition to my studies I had a part-time job.
The following Monday, he did not come to my locker. When I found him, he seemed distant. He wouldn’t make eye contact all day. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was different. Paranoid, and suddenly needing reassurance, I asked him,
“Don’t you love me anymore?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
My very being shook to the core, I felt as though I died a bit. My knees buckled.
In another cruel twist of fact, it was Valentine’s Day, the day we celebrated as our anniversary.
I was still reeling from his answer when he added that — he wanted to see other people!
Then he finally looked me in the eyes. He said, “I don’t want you to, though.”
“Okay,” I said.
I know, I know. In my head the voices still scream No! But I was already under his thumb, caught completely caught off guard. He had unilaterally changed all the rules without any warning. I was still freaked out just because he went to a party! And now this? I had given myself to him in every way possible, and now, it wasn’t enough, or it didn’t matter, or — I didn’t know what was happening!
For about two weeks, heartbroken, devastated, and confused, I nevertheless continued to allow him to meet me at my locker, walk me in the halls, kiss me hello and goodbye. I was still his girlfriend (property). But there were more goodbyes than hellos, and I saw him flirting with other girls, one in particular. He didn’t hide it.
He had a swagger about him. I felt small.
Since we’d been dating for two years, we were quite an item. But kids talked. Through the high school rumor mill I found out later that during the party he attended a girl I knew had flirted with him. Well, she grabbed his crotch, is what I heard. That must have been enough to turn the tide, to make him take the next step after control and isolation, to further humiliate me, his girlfriend of two years — but still keep me at his beck and call. He acted as though this was completely normal. And I allowed it. It was the beginning of a hurtful and unhealthy pattern of accommodation I have struggled with ever since.
One day, a friend of his and fellow basketball player who was in one of my classes said to me, unprovoked,
“I don’t know how you put up with it.”
I think I visibly shuddered. I was trying to operate under the illogical belief that no one knew what was really going on or at least wouldn’t acknowledge it in front of me.
The nice boy continued, “I mean, given his family and all it’s amazing he’s turned out as good as he has, but still — he shouldn’t be doing this to you.”
Hearing that from another boy, a boy who was a old friend of his but who didn’t know me that well, got to me. Then, I did some thinking. I had more time on my hands, after all. Throughout this whole thing I kept coming back to the fact that I loved him. I kept telling myself, “But I love him.” But then I asked myself, is being in love supposed to feel like this? Because this doesn’t feel good. This isn’t fun.
Love shouldn’t feel like this.
The next day I was not at my locker when he arrived to meet me.
He had to find me. When he did, I told him I wasn’t going to do this anymore.
When an abused woman hits back, it’s useless unless she kills or runs. Hitting back and standing there just sets her up for another beat down. Mine was coming.
I cannot remember what he said exactly, I do know that he was angry, that he demanded to know why I wasn’t at my designated place. He also told me he did, in fact, love me. I think I may have blocked most of the rest of it out, because it was so contrary to my sense of self-preservation. I’ve beat myself up for years because of it.
Bottom line: He got me back.
He said he wasn’t going to see other girls. We were monogamous again. (Well, he was monogamous again, I had never been free.) I didn’t date anyone else in high school.
He was still my boyfriend when I went to college.
Years later, I married him.
Months ago, our divorce became final. He has since remarried.
Interestingly, I heard later that the girl who had felt him up at the party told him she couldn’t actually date him because her family would not accept her dating a black boy. His would-be conquest wasn’t having it – or him. Whatever. His coming back to me had nothing to do with me — except that he wanted to keep me — unto him, under him.
When I started to pull away, he pulled me back — and he was stronger.
With him I had traded one kind of bullying for another, really.
But something broke inside me then, not because of how he treated me, but because I allowed it —- and I think — just now, I’m trying to get it fixed.
Just Me With . . . a love story?
P.S. Why all the Twilight pics? I have a hard time with the series because of my romantic history. A high school girl who does not fit in should have a chance to experience life outside of high school before changing her DNA for a boy. Bella is so sad and tortured and Edward makes her feel better, but I want her to go to college, get a job, move to a place where she chooses, and have fun, make friends, have boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, without all the danger and without having to forsake her belief system, family, and biological options before she’s had a chance to even develop them.
It’s okay not to have a boyfriend in high school. It really is. And it’s okay to break up with your first love.
For a story on what it was like to still have this boyfriend when I went away to college, see The Night I Became Cinderella.
And for how I feel about him now? I Don’t Love Him.
Weddings are everywhere now. Movies, royals, my ex-husband, . . . everywhere. So I thought I’d write about my own bride story, hopefully not in a “I should have known” way, but just the facts, ma’am.
I was having an evening church wedding. My bridesmaids were my sister, my best friend, and two close friends. The rehearsal dinner was meant to be casual, pizza and soda/wine at my parents’ house. The rehearsal itself had gone pretty well, I’d done the “get someone to stand in for the bride” thing . . . so I watched.
Probably not the best idea.
I got in the car and said to her, simply.
“I’m not going to do it, you know.”
My Bridesmaid was very calm, and, after she’d gotten me to clarify and repeat my confession that I was not going to get married, she replied,
“It’s nerves, it’ll be okay.”
“Oh, I’m not nervous. I’m just not doing it.” As if I was talking about getting on a ride at an amusement park.
What could she say? I think she just said okay. She must have felt horrible. I was so matter-of-fact about this huge statement. I went through our rehearsal dinner, and it was, as I’d wanted it, informal. My husband-to-be looked so veryhappy, I remember. Still, I didn’t say or do anything that revealed my discomfort. I did love him. Something was pissing me off, though. For a fleeting second I felt like he’d won, he “gotten” me, clipped my wings.
The next day, I did the whole wedding day prep thing, got my makeup and hair done, put on the big white dress. I guess I thought I was over it. But I wasn’t excited.
Once we were at the church, we realized that someone forgot to bring the flowers for the flower girls. Silly to have little girls with nothing in their hands. Someone had to run back to the house to get the flowers.
This gave me time. Maybe too much time.
As we all waited in the vestibule at the back of the church, I walked myself and the big white dress into a corner . . . way into the corner . . . facing the corner.
Later, my bridesmaids told me that at first they thought I was praying. But I wasn’t a praying kind of girl, not in a room full of people, anyway. Maybe praying is what I should have been doing. What I was doing was seriously considering making a run for it, big white dress and all. I pictured myself running out of the church, across the busy street, and through town, like in a movie.
Awkward. I heard the bustling around me, wondering if anyone noticed that I had put myself in time-out and that I wasn’t speaking to anyone. Ironically, the big white dress — with a train– created a physical barrier from everyone. I was hard to get to. My body was in the corner, my face was down, the dress fanned out around me. Still, I think I was waiting for somebody to do . . . something.
It started to get uncomfortably quiet.
Finally, my best friend slid herself between the wall and my dress to get close enough to me to say,
“Are you all right?’
“Yes,” I replied, curtly, but I was not a happy bride. I think I might have told her or even waved her to go away. I didn’t speak much.
I was thinking, though. I was thinking that if I did this, got married, I mean, it was for life. I didn’t believe in divorce, not a religious thing, just not an option for me (at the time). I was thinking I didn’t want to hurt or embarrass anyone. I was thinking that if I ran, well, that would be bad.
Someone came back with the flowers for the flower girls.
At the last minute me and my big white dress turned around and got married. And, by the way, he was so nervous, he did not even look at me while we took our vows. I joked later that he really married the minister, not me.
Does anyone remember Charlotte’s first wedding on Sex and the City? Charlotte expressed second thoughts to Carrie at the back of the church (because Trey couldn’t perform). Though Carrie at first responded that it was just nerves, she eventually told Charlotte that she doesn’t have to get married,
“We can go get a cab and everybody will just have to get over it“
Sex and The City, Season Three, Episode 12, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
I have wondered over the years — what if someone had said to me, “You don’t have to do this.” I’m not sure if it would have changed anything. Like Charlotte, even the most ambivalent of brides would probably go through with it anyway.
Still . . . it makes a girl think.
This is in no way a criticism to my bridesmaids for not uttering the Carrie words. We we all so young. None of us knew what we were doing. I was the first of our age group to get married. It takes a very mature person to actively assist a runaway bride. So I know why they didn’t say it.
But what if someone had?
The institution of marriage should not, as the preacher says, be entered into lightly. So for all you bridesmaids out there, who have promised to wear the coordinating dresses and walk ahead of the bride down the aisle — don’t forget to look back to make sure she’s there. Well, actually before that, let her know that, if need be, you will run out to the street and hail a cab for her . . . big white dress and all.
Just Me With . . . a bride story.
Funny, when my now ex-husband got re-married, I was just The Nanny. But I did have dinner with one of my former bridesmaids that day. Perhaps she didn’t know what to say when I got married, but she knew what to say when my divorce was final. My relationship with her has stood the test of time, hopefully, until death do us part. See To My Best Friend On Mother’s Day
My Marital Home was large Victorian fixer-upper still in progress. I had accumulated a lot of children and stuff over my years there. One of my forms of therapy has always been to get rid of things and rearrange furniture (I know, a little weird) . Consequently I’d been cleaning crap out with a vengeance after my husband left (so much so he thought I was moving way before I even thought about it).
When the real move was on the horizon, I was faced with moving from this big house to my new little project where Piss Man and his GF were living (See Piss, Puke and Porn). So I basically decreased our belongings by — my guess — around two/thirds . . . Mind you the kid count was remaining the same and they were/are growing by the minute and although some days I’d like to sell them, I’m aware that generally this is frowned upon. Consequently, other stuff had to go.
Since I’m a purger by nature I drop by Goodwill often; they know me (even got hit on there). But since I was already doing this massive move by myself, including getting the Marital Home ready for sale and fixing up the new old hoarder’s house, I was quickly tiring of schlepping my stuff to Goodwill. I also tired of selling individual items, you know, meeting strangers at inconvenient times, etc. to maybe or maybe not make a sale. (Sounds a little like dating, but I digress.) I’ve never had luck having yard sales. So I started posting things for free.
We’ve all seen those ads, “Free Stuff” “Moving” etc. Well, I became one of those people. I decided to give away everything I could on one beautiful weekend. I took pictures, posted them on Craigslist and said FREE — come get it . . . first come, first served.
When living in a smaller space you don’t have the luxury to store certain things, one of them being holiday decorations. I’d already gotten rid of much of that stuff, but I was ready to let go of almost everything else. I told myself, and I was right, that I probably wouldn’t miss it and if I wanted more decorations later I’d start fresh.
My kids’ babysitter (now a good, good friend) had given them these beautiful angel decorations — you know the kind with the velvet gown and fur and whatnot — I had four of them for the girls and she’d given the boy a big nutcracker (heh heh). The angels had looked beautiful in my formal dining room when I had my Christmas sing-along parties. But, that life was . . . over. Still, even for me, it is a bit harder to get rid of items that were thoughtful gifts from a loved one– so I struggled a bit.
I knew I couldn’t store the angels and I knew that in the new old house I wouldn’t have a place to display them at Christmas . . . so . . . I took a picture of the kids’ pretty angels, posted it on Craigslist and put them out on the street, convincing myself that my friend would understand. It felt kinda like giving away my four girls, except my girls aren’t always angels . . . but I digress.
After posting, I got an email right away from a guy wanting to know if I still had them. I checked outside and they were still there. He asked me to hold them until he could get to my house.
I mean, they were pretty, but I didn’t know they’d be hot property — in June. I moved them to a more secluded place and told him where he could find them. He came and got them right away. I never saw him.
“Cool,” I thought, “My stuff is going.” It’s amazing how you can’t sell something for a dollar but if you offer it for free — it’s gone.
A couple of hours later I got an email from the man who took the angels. He thanked me for the them, telling me that they were for his mother who was going through Cancer treatments and having a pretty rough time. She didn’t get out much, he said, hardly ever. But when she saw the picture of my Christmas angels she wanted them so badly that she rode with him to get them.
He said those angels made her so happy. He was thrilled to be able to make her smile.
He just wanted to let me know how much I’d done for the both of them.
I almost cried. I’m lying, I did cry.
Oh wait, it’s Just Me With . . . tears in my eyes . . . again.
For what happened when I prepared the Marital Home for sale, see My Panty Drawer/Your Panty Drawer
For my purging of marriage related material, see:
and for what I wish would happen with Craigslist, see, A Craigslist Fantasy.
Piss, Puke and Porn. Ahhh, my new house. Just Me and the Kids had been living in the marital home since the Husband moved out. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t take care of it. But I have five big kids so it’s not like I could hole up in a one bedroom apartment. Plus, the kids and I loved their schools and I did not want them to have to change, for academic and emotional reasons. So, I bought this little house because I could make the bedrooms work and my kids could stay in the same schools.
But the house was in deplorable condition (which is how I could afford it). The people living there had owned the house for generations but had done no maintenance. Plus, they were sick and poor. The house looked like it should have been condemned. Actually the back part of it was condemned by the county and had to be demolished.
I couldn’t even tell the kids about the house because it looked so bad it would have been too traumatic for them. We drove by it every day and the kids had no idea. The prior owners rented it back from me for 6 months and I worked on the outside of it when the kids weren’t around so that it wouldn’t look so bad when I told them.
Meanwhile, the marital home finally sold. I would have two weeks from the time the prior owners/renters left the new old house before I had to move the kids and I there. The prior owners were heavy smokers, and I say this with no judgment, just the facts — and nasty. I knew that I would be undertaking an extreme makeover but . . .
I get that it was a tough move for the prior owners. Their family had lived there for over 60 years. I stopped by on move out night and they asked if they could leave a couple of boxes to pick up the next day. Sure, I said, because I’m nice that way. But when I went over there the next day and could see in broad daylight what was left behind, it made me sick.
These people kept cats but did not take care of them. They left me litter boxes with cat poop and no kitty litter. The boxes merely had newspaper lining the bottom of the pan. They also left used wet cat food cans. This was late Spring, people. Temps were in the 80’s and rising. Also, there was cat poop that didn’t make the cat box at all. They had apparently kept a cat locked up in what would become my room. The cat had yacked numerous times and they hadn’t cleaned it up. Add that to the cat urine which had soaked into the floors and the remnants of wet cat food — the smell was indescribable.
But the third floor attic bedroom was even worse. A grown man (like in his 40’s) and his girlfriend had lived up there — like hoarders. The side of the attic which was used for “storage” had clothes and debris thrown over there, not in boxes, not in bags, and another cat had free rein up there. Think about it. The storage area was nothing but a big litter box.
Anyway, after the move out there were some boxes and debris left there. Well, okay, I thought, they said they’d leave some things and be back to get them. But I had to inspect the property anyway and start to clean. I had to.
This is what I found: bags of trash, well, actually garbage, including used tissues and vintage porn with sticky pages, more cat poop and litter boxes without litter, an adult diaper (used), little green baggies (which I’m told was crack), and, 2-liter soda bottles — a lot of them strewn about, in boxes, under debris, etc.
These soda bottles were not empty — but no soda, either —
I found approximately fifty 2 liter bottles of HUMAN PISS!
Understand that the bathroom was always in working order. Understand that the guy who lived up there, though collecting disability, was not immobile — he could walk, climb stairs, etc. Understand that he was not developmentally disabled to the point that he was incontinent. In other words, he was capable of carrying his lazy ass to the bathroom and knew that’s where people are supposed to urinate! Understand also that he had a girlfriend who must have allowed this!!!! (What kind of woman would . . . ??????)
That whole Hoarders TV show — finding piss collections? Turns out it is very very real.
Let me say it again — 50 bottles of human piss — in my new house. I knew I’d have to do major renovations, but piss removal?
Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me when I made this discovery. Even my therapist said she’d never heard of anything like this. (This was before the show Hoarders was so popular.) I stopped looking through stuff. My daughters’ future bedroom was a toilet, literally. And people, this was an attic bedroom — in June! It was ten degrees hotter up there than outside. It was nauseating. Truly. And I was going to move my kids in this house in a matter of days. Looking back on it I still shudder. Yeah, I’ve been through some crap . . . and piss.
Just Me With . . . 50 Bottles of Piss in My House, 50 Bottles of Piss . . .
For more new old house stories, see:
Yes, I had twins, twice — back to back, plus a singleton.
Yup. Yup. Yup. I can’t count how many times I’ve said this. It never gets old. Sometimes I have to say it to myself just so that I believe it.
The husband and I had been happily child-free by choice for years, but it was time to have some babies. Because of job issues, we wanted to have two in a row, God willing.
We had one, a boy. According to plan, by the time our son was 11 months old I was pregnant again. All was well until I had some spotting. I was terrified. Before my son I’d had a miscarriage and I was really afraid of having another. I didn’t want to relive that pain of being told they can’t find a heartbeat. I felt okay but because of the spotting my doctor sent me for an ultrasound immediately. I went alone. I was thrilled when they showed me the heartbeat!
And then . . . they showed me another heartbeat!
It was twins!
Twins? Twins. Two strong heartbeats. The spotting stopped and I had full-term fraternal baby girls. The boy was just 19 months old when the girls were born. I didn’t get my tubes tied on the table because it was a vaginal birth. My husband didn’t get snipped, which he would never do anyway. I wasn’t planning to have more children but I guess I wasn’t ready to make that an impossibility. I did know that after having gone through a twin pregnancy and childbirth I didn’t want to go through a separate procedure to get my tubes tied. So, I didn’t.
When the girls were about six months old and the boy was two there was trouble in paradise: my husband had an affair.
It was more of a fling that I found out about — immediately. He voluntarily ended it. It was a difficult time. I did not take it well, but I had three kids in diapers, two of which were nursing. It was an incredibly challenging time, parenting-wise, having a toddler and twin babies. Frankly, I needed my husband’s help.
Months passed, and we hadn’t really reconciled. We hadn’t really dealt with it, the demand of having three little ones took most of our focus. My husband was still sleeping in the guest room. I was still nursing the babies, but less often. They were getting some solid food.
Then one night, I was feeling amorous. Who am I kidding, I was so freaking horny out of my mind. Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow. I should have known I was having some sort of major hormonal surge. I just had to have sex. Had to. I told my husband that it didn’t mean anything it was just about the sex. I simply required his services. (I’m so romantic.)
We’d both been tested by this time . . . so . . .
A few weeks later I was missing something — but I was still nursing, my body was not yet my own, let alone my cycle. Still, something was up. In addition to missing my period I had the signs. Frequent urination, I was even nauseous and starting to show — strong and early — just like with the twins. My best friend the gynecologist brought over a pregnancy test for me when my husband was out. I couldn’t face the possibility on my own and couldn’t deal with my semi-estranged husband.
Like so many women before me I engaged in the peeing on the stick ritual. It was positive. Right away, no faint line. It screamed PREGNANT! Of course.
I couldn’t tell my husband. We were barely talking. My pregnancy symptoms worsened, and they were heightened just like with my twin pregnancy. That’s the thing about pregnancy, it just keeps going, even if you don’t tell anybody.
Then we got a very strange phone call. My mother-in-law called and told us she had dreamed of fish — twice. Well, there is an old African-American wives tale: when you dream of fish, someone in the family is pregnant. She’d had this dream before, and it was accurate last time. Shortly after my mother-in-law dreamt of fish my sister-in-law announced she was (accidentally) pregnant. But this time, no one else in the family was reasonably likely to be pregnant so . . . she was checking on us. After all, she had dreamed of fish —- TWICE!!!!
When I finally told my husband I was pregnant and described how I’d been feeling, he laughed and said, “I bet it’s twins.”
(What a prince.)
I retorted, “No, that doesn’t happen.”
I don’t necessarily believe any of those old superstitions, but my mother-in-law’s call, my husband’s teasing, my overwhelming pregnancy symptoms which were so similar to my last twin pregnancy, along with the scientific fact that pregnant women have no patience and suddenly become very superstitious — well I just had to know.
I begged my doctor for an ultrasound. There was no real medical reason for it, really. I wasn’t spotting or having pain and it was early on. Still, for peace of mind and to ease my anxiety I just needed to know that it was not twins. I needed to know. Plus, it was time to tell folks that I was pregnant — and I wanted to assure them that it was just one baby this time.
My doctor prescribed the test.
When I went to the ultrasound (again by myself) the technician asked me why I was having the scan. I told her “to rule out twins” — since I had just had twins. “Oh.” She made small talk and asked me how old my kids were (2,1, and 1). But once she started the scan she got very quiet. Small talk was over. Even though the pregnancy wasn’t planned, I didn’t want to lose the baby. I didn’t want to relive the heartbreak of not being able to find a heartbeat. Deja vu.
Again, I was terrified. The technician left the room without saying a word. This was unnerving. I was so scared, pregnant, emotional and laying on that table in the room alone, without a clue as to what was going on.
A few minutes later, the technician came back — with her boss.
I asked them, “Is there a heartbeat?”
“Oh yes, there’s a heartbeat,” said the boss lady.
Then they showed me the screen. “Here,” she pointed, and . . . “here,” she pointed again. Deja Vu . There were two strong heartbeats — again.
After I dressed, with mind reeling or alternatively in complete denial, I called my semi-estranged husband from the exam room and left him a voicemail, “Yeah, it’s twins.”
Months later, I gave birth to full-term fraternal twin girls — again. This time I had to have a C-Section and at my request, they performed a tubal ligation while I was still on the table. No more babies, and that’s alright with me.
So there you have it. This is how I ended up with five children in about three and a half years.
Because of the circumstances of their conception, I sometimes refer to that second set of twins (behind their backs of course) as “Oops and Uh-oh.”
Oh yeah, and my first-born Singleton Boy? He started out as twins. My hormone levels had been high, I was measuring large, and was sent for an ultrasound after my doctor said, “You might have an army in there!” By the time I had the test done, it showed that his twin had been “absorbed” in utero early in the pregnancy. I didn’t think much about it — at the time. Sometimes I call the boy “Jeffery Dahmer” though, (you know, because he ate his twin and all). Ha!
I had conceived twins three times in a row, like a boss.
Just Me With . . . almost twins, twins and twins.
I asked my doctor why this kept happening. She simply said, “I don’t know.”