The day the cops pulled up at my house my entire life changed. I didn’t even recall the sirens, or even feeling a sense of panic when the officers pulled up-the infusion of stomach acids and beer in my gut served as the only reminder that I skipped all meals that day-all other recall was hazy. Glassy eyed or not, I was prepared when the knock came at the door. There was no other way out of this marriage- was my initial thought. Today when I looked at this man, the one I was married to, I felt I may as well have been born a mute, no words just angry actions. This man- whose dinner I cooked for 12 years –colorful gourmet creations including all five food groups plated up on fine white bone china- from his mother- no less, never leftover, never previously frozen, and never appreciated. He had gone too far. Instead the routine of domestic urban family life ended abruptly when they hauled me way. Mommy cuffed and shoved in the back of a cop car for all the neighbors to see. Bruised wrists; and an even a bruised heart- purple forever.
It was the dinner hour and the steak had been marinating all day. It was when I pulled the bottle of wine out to drizzle over the oysters, I was baited “are you going to drink the whole bottle!” I never got the chance to voice my intentions.” Cause unlike him, I had a voice. I hadn’t planned on even drinking the wine-it was for the oysters, I hate Chardonnay. The boiling point, his response took me unaware. He had just walked in the door, I was feverish, pasty and mildly intoxicated, lamenting the monthly fever, the unanticipated nuisance of anemia and fever. I hoped he would at least see the pain welling up in my eyes but he never raised his eyes to mine. No interrogation, no demand for answers no inspection into my heart, a why… an obvious confronting of drunk pink buffoon of an elephant in the room, it’s was the same shit. It felt like all life sustaining organs had been doused with hot water, forever scalded. I melted like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. I never planned to do what I did to him.
What’s so surprising about that day is how normal it started out. The sun was bright that morning the roses were blooming in the garden, a small miracle- in that July had brought ONE day of sun and the rest record rains. If only I had stayed home to deadhead the roses and pluck weeds and observe the quiet way fragrant petals layered themselves in fluffy bunches of lingering perfume. Instead of catering to my gut feeling that I should tend to my own delicate nature on this day, I put the kids’ needs first. The kids were looking forward to the last days of summer, which in our Seattle neighborhood had come later than ever this year. But kids tend to dictate their needs loudly. They were prepared to savor every last day before school started, like licking the bottom of the ice cream bowl. Seattle summers have to be fully observed as they are so precious in comparison to the rest of the year. This summer was no gift however. Instead interrupted by a two month office job eagerly anticipated like a child handed the unwrapped sampler of chocolates it looked good at first. Once the lid was opened-I found half bitten strawberry nougat, and only dark bitter chocolates left.
Before marriage I had grand plans. I felt anchored and fearless with intellectual vigor to rely on. It slowly diminished, and fizzled then dried up for lack of use. It was overwhelming the world outside of jobs catering to all but myself. It seems almost laughable now in my studies in College that Webers’ Division of Labor made me cringe. So much of my life was foreshadowed in the books I’d read. Marriage seemed positively ill fitting in modern times- ludicrous I thought. Perhaps I shouldn’t have belittled the institution by having Elvis marry us? At least Elvis was a real flesh of flesh person with a wounded soul. An Artist like me? The first seven years I looked back at the lost me, I had surrendered all my opinions and become a Mexican made. Soon it became apparent I had traded ME for a piece of circular jewelry imbedded with diamonds that seemed to represent every character I valued in myself and lost as the union of partnership we call marriage began. Marriage, carriage, porridge, disparage, all these things are sticky, unpleasant, burdensome or tiresome from pulling the weight of others. In my twenties I thought people who married read too many fairy tales, now I was living one, and my clothes were tattered and I felt as though I was banished to the dungeon for naughty behavior.