A lifetime of bad decisions, broken hearts, therapy, answers, and coming Home to God.
|A Yet to Be Named Memoir - Chapter 1
Damn the rain! Rain for days and weeks with no end in site during the months of January and February in Southern California. Rain, rain, always rain. I had spent the last two weeks packing my apartment and preparing for a very long drive across the country, 2,500 miles away from Los Angeles where I would begin a new life. The last few days at the office had been melancholy. I had worked for six years under the careful guidance of my mentor, Marcella, a Vice President in the corporate office of a large NYSE corporation.
Marcella had hired me when I as but twenty years of age. I began working at the company only a year earlier as a relief receptionist and gal-Friday type position, which I didn’t mind taking. I just wanted to get my foot in the door. But after less than a year, I saw an opening for a more prestigious position and I applied for it. Marcella hired me immediately based on the excellent recommendation of her current supervisor. Not to mention the fact that she was born and raised 60 miles away from the place I still call “home”.
I would become the Administrative Assistant to Marcella, working closely with her on general insurance matters. I was ambitious and the job was both lucrative and interesting. The corporate headquarters were located on the top floor of a Century City, California high-rise, adjacent to Beverly Hills, Fox Studios and Century City Shopping Center. Even more ambitious than I was my lover, “Sam”.
Sam had been the love of my life, or at least the first love that was truly mature in nature. I had never experienced an orgasm with a man before Sam. He had fallen in love with me by the second date and it was a little scary. But he had also taught me many things about life, being tough and independent, and he managed my every move. He loved saying to me, “I taught you that,” and he meant it with the greatest sincerity. It was a an often-use phrase that was said with more than a hint of boastfulness. Sam, I later decided, was the epitome of a Svengali. And vanity was his strong suit.
I had stayed with Marcella at her home in Rancho Palos Verdes the last two nights that I would live in Los Angeles. My furniture and belongings, except for my clothes, were already on their way to Birmingham, Alabama. Marcella and I shared some close time together; we had become like mother and daughter over the years. Marcella had lost her husband in that time, and I looked to her for motherly advice, and stood by her not just as a loyal employee, but as a daughter to her mother. We shared cocktails and chatted easily, although the pit in the bottom of my stomach never eased up. This would be the second time I had left Los Angeles, but this time I knew that I would never live here again. I was so torn. I wanted to stay, but something deep inside of me, probably from my roots and upbringing, told me that my daughter deserved to be near family. Here, it was her and I, and no family. Sam’s family had become mine, and my daughter’s.
I had lost Sam completely, and I would never be happy with stolen moments as if I were some kind of tramp. I tried my best to look forward to the future in a new city where my sister and other family had lived for years. I had an uncle, an aunt, and cousins where I was going, and with my rose colored glasses still excellent in shape, I was completely optimistic, albeit a bit naïve. As I look back, it is rather humorous and reflects my naivety when I recall my sister begging me, “move out here with us, get married and have babies like me!” Babies! That was the very last thing on my mind. Happiness was first, and I had been so unhappy and disappointed in just about all of my male/female relationships, but more so in the last couple of years. I just couldn’t see myself continuing in the role I had unintentionally cast myself. The only way to break the pattern was a major move. I always do everything in extremes, so it was no wonder that I would pack up and move to the other side of the country now.
The move was set off when the corporation where I worked had been sucked up by another corporation based in Greenwich, Connecticut. As mergers often do, many were left without jobs or asked to move to another division, subsidiary or even offered a job in the Corporate Headquarters of the new company in Greenwich. I received an offer to move to Greenwich, but I had begun a whole new life in Los Angeles by myself with a small child at age 18, and now at age 25 I could not see myself starting over in Greenwich, Connecticut, of all places.
California had appealed to me since I was a child in the 60’s. I wanted to be a part of life in the fast lane, the first to do everything, living among the rich and famous, the up and coming musicians, and the ambiance that came with the territory. I had visited California twice, at ages 12 and 15, on family vacations. The first was full of Disneyland, Knottsberry Farm, the was museum, and star searching. On the second family vacation, we went to visit friends when Iwas 15 years old. I longed to be there at the epicenter of everything. California was happening and I wanted nothing more than to be at the center of it. My gene pool had doled out generous portions of attraction to danger, risk, independence, willfulness and traveling to the beat of my own drum. I followed rock music intensely in the 1960’s. I read magazines full of current events on the music scene in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I thought Haight Ashbury had to be THE coolest place in the entire universe and I wanted to go there and live among the hippies and be a flower child. I was also star-struck and had visions of being an actress, making a lot of money and being famous and living an avant gard lifestyle.
Everything had come unglued at lightening speed, and the aftermath was emotionally trying, especially trying to fix what had gone wrong in my relationship with Sam. He was stoic. His mind was made up and there was no turning back. He had forced me out of his house by leaving and staying gone for weeks at a time, “working” is what he said. But mysterious mail in the form of greeting cards began arriving here and there and of course, I was too curious about them to not open them. The one that had stunned me most was from the wife of Sam’s best friend in Marin County. Inside the card she had written, “Variety is the spice of life! Love, Patty”. Why would Patty, who was married to Sam’s best friend write something like that to him? At that point, I didn’t even care if it made Sam angry that I’d opened his personal mail. I wanted to know what was going on during these trips to Northern California. Of course, he denied any wrong-doing, and never let up on each return to their home in his insistence that I should find an apartment and move as soon as possible. He was trying to force me out, and I was doing my best to stand strong against his insistence, all the while sleeping in the same bed with me and making love morning, noon and night as we had done since the beginning of our relationship. I was receiving mixed signals and the confusion of horrid. Why would he make love to me, tell me he loved me and I would fall asleep in his arms as always. There would come the day that he would leave me again for a week or two more, saying on the way out the door, “you need to find an apartment and move.”
With each of Sam’s absences and subsequent reunions, I was further tormented by his insistence that I move into a place of my own and become more independent. It was tearing me apart. Sam was truly my first love, and my “firsts” with Sam were embedded in my mind, where they are to this day, and branded upon my heart. I belonged to him and he belonged to me; it was fate, destiny. But Sam was not cooperating.
If I had just not had dinner with one of the internal auditors at the company; if I had not danced with him and his heavy perspiring had not gotten on my clothes, none of this would be happening. Stephen was a tall, slim and dark-haired man about five years older than I. He was married, unhappily, and when he came to conduct the audit on Marcella’s department, he and I had been thrown together to work through the audit for several weeks. Stephen was a nice man, and he still sported the Afro hairstyle of the hippies in the 60’s, although this was 1975. He was charming and sweet and complimentary, but one drawback was the fact that he wore this gosh-awful musk cologne every day and wreaked of it. Unfortunate for me, when a few of my co-workers went to the Charter House in Westwood after work one evening and I danced with Stephen, I went home wreaking of his cologne as well. Sam had been sitting on the sofa visiting with a friend and had told me afterward that they had both smelled me as soon as I opened the door.
I cried and begged Sam to believe me, that nothing out of line had happened – it was just a dance. But Sam had decided that I had gone further and he was adamant that he did not believe my story. He could not understand how I could smell so strongly of Stephen’s cologne unless I had been intertwined body-to-body, but still it was untrue. Stephen’s cologne was that strong.
My insecurities took over and I could barely function at work. I began having conversations with Sam when he was home, and those visits didn’t last but one or two days and he would be gone again. Sam was an independent “handy man”, something he picked up when he lost the job that threw us into each other’s path. After going to college and earning a degree, his prospects dimmed and he needed something to pay the bills. He was anal about everything he did, so in his work he was exceptional. He went to Orange County frequently to do work for his aunt and grandmother, and for a rich old lady that his aunt had worked for for many years. After weeks on end, there was nothing to do but relent, and I found an apartment that was about ten minutes away. Sam was there to move me and he made sure me and my daughter were settled and comfortable before retreating to his own house to stay.
I was left in this apartment having to walk all the way to the back to a laundry room that was shared by all tenants to do my washing, living alone (alone in my own mind), eating alone and sleeping alone. This seemed like the worst time of my life. It was only yesterday that Sam and I had met and it was love at first sight.
As I loaded the last of my things into the car, the rain poured by the bucket-full outside the confines of Marcella’s garage. Marcella and I said some very tearful “good-byes”, the pouring rain adding to the drama of it all. I got into my car and backed out of the driveway, waving through the pouring rain to only a feint image of a woman standing in her bathrobe in the garage. Even now, I had never felt more alone in my life than at that moment. I cried a bit, and then picked up my map to review the course I had outlined for myself toward Alabama. As I drove, an enormous wave of regret, sorrow, heartbreak sense of loss and abandon swelled inside me. I couldn’t help but cry as I drove in the blinding rain, my windshield wipers on full speed and still I could not see. It was rush hour traffic and it was doubly horrid due to the weather circumstances. I watched as I saw people making their way to their jobs or other appointments, and here I was leaving an entire life that I had made for myself and my daughter, a life that I had dreamed about, loved and lived to the fullest, and a love that had been the deepest and fullest of any she had ever known. There was no turning back; I was beyond the point of no return. My furniture had left days earlier, I had declined the job in Greenwich, and there was nothing left for me in Los Angeles, nothing but the possibility of starting over. But, as long as she lived anywhere near Sam, her life would be a tangled web of hurt and emotions. All of my friends were Sam’s friends. I would have to forge new ones, and I did have a few from the office. But Sam would never walk completely away from me, and I felt cheapened by taking him whenever he called and I could get him to stay the night with me. Eventually, he came to make love and then left. It made me feel like his whore.
I hopped on the San Diego Freeway heading south, where I would pick up the Long Beach Freeway and made nt way to I-10 east. That would take me through Houston and to New Orleans. In a few days, I would be in a whole new world. I felt my aura had been left and would remain in Los Angeles forever.