An eye for my mind CC
Alone, mostly. Angry, sometimes. Or awestruck. Able, for sure.
Before the virus was even a thing, John asked if I planned to watch my four-year-old granddaughter EVERY week. Right before lockdown, say, March 15, he said my babysitting was putting his life in danger. “Then LEAVE,” I boomed. Triggered my mama bear. He boogied back to Washington.
Coronavirus. Contagion. Cooties. So far, the CDC says children are rarely the contaminators. Note: I’ve always liked children better than adults. Canines, too. Note: Couldn’t NOT watch her.
Drugs addict, devastate. When someone you love loves drugs, it’s like a series of daily deaths. My daughter disappears into them. Is devoured. It all started with booze. Her dad, her brother. Don’t get me started.
Escaped. Or, I tried to.
Fled to Tacoma. Lived there part-time for a couple years. Flew back and forth – AZ to WA, where I focused on roses, fixer-upper, sea lions. Five states away, I didn’t have to look at the fucked-up-ness of my family.
Gave up, for a while. Game over, I thought. Grieved. We’d run the gamut: counselors, behavioral units, suggestions of rehab. Get out of your dad’s house, I’d said, for your own good.
Hid from reality as long as I could.
I flew back to AZ in October. Met my daughter, her dad/my ex, his girlfriend at Peter Piper Pizza for my granddaughter’s preschool Halloween party. Molly in a pink princess floor length and fairy wings. Her guardians in their cups. Intoxicated? Well, under the influence. Fuzzy eyed. Pitchers of beer center of their table.
Jolt of reality – bad juju. John was still in Tacoma. I’d flown back early with one dog. We’d argued before I left. Again. I wondered about the jam I’d gotten myself into…living in a man’s house miles from my own.
Kate and her dad, after the party, had another knock down. In the parking lot that night, she’d leaned into me and whispered, “I wanna run away, enlist in the army.” Kicked out or her choice? She moved in with her boyfriend, told Molly’s dad to keep her kid far from her father/my ex. Accusations, keening.
Lies or truth? Who knows. Lariat or noose? It all led to leaving. Molly left the house of he who she calls Papa to live full-time at her own father’s house. Loss. Lament. But, let’s face it: Lots of drugs, dysfunction, glue loosened on that lair I left 15 years earlier. Let go, let go.
Molly’s dad, Micaiah, gathered us – me, my ex, Molly—told us he would honor Kate’s mandate that Molly stay away from her grandpa’s house. Micaiah works, so his mom and me will mind Molly, transport her to Montessori. Mostly, we’re mum about who’s right or wrong.
Nightmares. Molly tells me about hers from her car seat. She’s scared, wants me to sleep right next to her, touch her arm at night so she knows I’m there. No more Tacoma. I know I can NOT leave this little girl. No more nonchalance or closed eyes.
Oh, just buy a house in Northern Arizona, I tell John. I don’t want to live in Washington anymore. We tried it. Over, that dream. It was his dream really, my overpass, my way to omit truth.
Pissed, and who could blame him. He didn’t parent drug-addicted offspring. His expectation of me persevering as a part-timer between Phoenix and Pacific Northwest goes POOF! As a peace offering, I guess, he puts in an offer on a place in Flagstaff—seems partially in. Renters live there now, tenants. He gets the place, spends winter at my house on Pershing Ave, although it pains him. Holds memories in the pit of his gut of when we parted there five years earlier. My push away, that time.
Quietly, we co-exist for months, but there is a rumbling in the foundation, a quagmire.
Ran, that’s what it felt like he did. Like high-tailed it away from me, my granddaughter’s germs, my rebellion against what felt like his rules – and after he ran and ran, I felt remorse.
Suck, yes, I do...at relationships with men. I have good ones with my father and oldest son, but I am the sorriest of wife material. I thought I was good mom material, but it didn’t turn out that way. I suck at being submissive, suck at subservience, suck at riding shotgun in the car of life. I have way too saucy a tongue and spicy a temper.
Tacoma – John hunkers down solo for almost four months. We text, call, try to talk it out, tune in. But we are tangled
up like a snarled ball of sharp wire. Unproductive patterns, unrelenting storylines, undercurrent swept under the rug.
Vaccine must occur before he’ll feel safe around me, he says. Virus rages. Violence in the streets. U.S. economy poised to fall into the valley of red ink. His Flagstaff tenants vacate, one with COVID. He sells Tacoma house, voyages back to AZ with U-Haul. Valiant, stoic, hang dog.
Welcome, welcome! I wine us, dine us, want us to be wonderful, to wipe slate clean, wash away the negative, wrangle a co-mingle, masks, yes, wink, wink. But wishful thinking. He is wary of me.
XOXO! Can’t we ex out disharmony? Exalt extraordinary sex? Exhale? I don’t want to be exes.
You know, when Molly is at my house, she sings. She hums hi-ho the derry-o as she draws. She makes spiders out of pipe cleaners and buttons, a brown bear out of a popsicle stick, sunflowers out of coffee filters. Yesterday, she glued a big yellow flower onto the center of white paper, then drew herself and me smiling next to it, her with long eyelashes, me with glasses and short hair, the dogs between us, lots of hearts, and a tiny speck in the background. Look, she says, pointing to the speck: That’s John.
Zero chance I’m going to leave her.
Susan Vespoli writes from Arizona. She's had work published in spots such as Rattle, Mom Egg Review, Nailed Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse.
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