Monday, January 09, 2006

The First...And Worst Of Three

The B4B gauntlet was tossed - write about an ex. I really wanted to write something totally positive. I read a few of the entries so far and was really impressed. Could I find a way to make a negative situation positive, when the only good thing that came of it was a wonderful daughter? We'll see.

The First and Worst of Three

Where we've been is who we are. This is my mantra. The benchmark by which I measure myself and consider what makes others tick. That means my ex’s have helped mold me into today’s woman. That’s right one husband, two ex’s, three mothers in law. One daughter, two step daughters,and three dogs. They are all a part of who I have become.

Ronnie? My first love, the boyfriend that got away? Does he ever think about me, because he’s indelibly tattooed on my heart, soul, and psyche? He is the want I have deep in my heart. He was benchmark that all males had to surpass. But we never knocked boots, never did the deed, never got down, dirty, and nasty. Hmmmm, maybe that is why I became the town slut. It was a heart breaking job, but someone had to do it. It helped mold me and believe it or not, it is something of which I’m kind of happy about.

No, we’ll go with mate number one. Despite it all ending on a very sour note, there had to be a good beginning. A moment in time when my heart and head collided to say he is the one. Okay, it didn’t happen that way at all. It was two moments separated by time and space….and people present.

My family had just made the thousand- mile trek from southern California to the small coastal Oregon town where I still live. I was 17, trying to rise out of the destruction that was my former life. Given the opportunity to change who I am and will become, the proverbial path chosen. I dropped my first name, developed a wise mouth attitude and sense of humor, and survivor mentality (which in hindsight was left over from my LA existence.) Sitting in the back of the school bus with several new “friends” I saw a cool fifty-three Chevy panel wagon and proclaimed to all within ear shot, “I’m going to marry him, there is my future husband.” Within a month or so my father, upon making acquaintances with area businessmen would come home and proclaim, “You’re never to have a relationship with that Wilcox, boy.” So I went out and married him. But wait, I’m rushing things.

That Wilcox boy was tender and sweet looking, with a wild streak that drove the area police officers crazy. He had soft velvet brown eyes with a sad droop, a quick laugh, and loping walk; he was taller than me. He’d dropped out of school at 16 and began fishing, a dangerous and hard working profession he soon gave up for roofing. Which if you’ve ever roofed you’ll know is a hard working and dangerous profession if you don’t’ have a sense of balance. He never seemed the quitter, he never seemed lazy, he never seemed hateful.

A year after that first sighting we finally met, fell in lust, and moved to Portland. All seemed happiness and light. He worked nights, I worked days, and we had crazy sex in between. Then he lost his job and proposed to me. He joined the service, we got married, and I found out I was pregnant. It was to become a series of important events for which he was never there. But I understood he was in the service. First he was three thousand, then six thousand miles away. I suffered (and so did my family) an extremely long and painful pregnancy, which ended with the birth of a beautiful, large baby girl, and the loss of her twin. He was still at the Proving Grounds, I understood he was in the service, sending me a hundred dollars a month while I lived with my parents.

I really should have seen it coming, hindsight is so clear.

Two weeks after our daughter was born, he was shipped out to Germany. On Easter morning 1976 with our two month old daughter in arms, I flew to Germany to be with our man. I found baby sitting jobs and was soon caring for six other kids, raking in good money during the days while he worked. It all went into the same bank account and he loved the children. But it was taking a toll on me. The answer came in the way of a job at a near by mess hall. He was not a happy camper, long shifts meant I wouldn’t be home, my cousin would care for our daughter, and I would be making more money than he did.

I didn’t see the changes in him. As long as I didn’t interfere with his television all was peaceful. His drinking increased from one or two a night, to a six pack. But you know, “you can’t be an alcoholic to beer.” I’m not sure where he bought that logic, but I couldn’t change his mind and make him see. Our first Christmas party in Germany he spent passed out in the backroom by the keg. New Years he spent passed out in the poolroom of a Gaus Haus where we’d gone with friend to ring in 1977.

There were good times. Barbecues with friends every Sunday afternoon, picnics at the lake – again with friends. Trips to Heidelberg, Munich, Karlsruhn, Frankfurt, Ulm, and other points of interest, that surprisingly all had beer festivals going on during our visit. He was becoming infamous among our friends for passing out at concerts.

I didn’t see the drugs. I didn’t’ see, well yeah I did but was clueless, the girlfriends. Then one night in July of 1977 it all came to a crashing crescendo, when in the wee hours I was awoken to him straddled across my chest trying to choke the life out of me. I’m a fighter. I’d survived LA, I’d survived rape, I’d survived not being popular, hell, I’d survived being me, I definitely was going to survive him.

Two days later he showed up at the mess hall begging forgiveness. I’d seen the writing on the wall. Now was the time to walk, but I was stuck in Germany with a man who hated me. He had my passport, our daughter’s passport and all the money. I had to work to save money for our plane tickets home, it took three months. I found friends who became my support system, my refuge from his wrath…

…Until the night before our flight to freedom. The plane was scheduled to take off at 5:30am, he came home to repeatedly dump out my luggage and take anything he’d thought was ours or his. Then he knocked my head into the cement floor until I faked unconscienceousness and he left. I feared his return, I feared his not returning, and I definitely feared missing our plane. But he did show up, he did drive us to the airport, and I did get on a plane with our daughter, a suitcase of her clothes and two dollars and nine marks in my purse. I’m a survivor. I landed in New York and called my mom. She is my hero.

I’m not afraid of my first ex anymore. He has no power over me. I rue that he has the ability to screw up my daughter to this day. He’s switched from beer to Night Train, he’s been married three times and divorced three times, none of his children talk to him for long. He is lonely, he is sad, he is still a nasty drunk. But once upon a time there was this sweet guy with puppy dog eyes who loved to race the wind. Now he just races to his bong.

I, on the other hand survived, and grew.

© 6 January 2006 Calista Cates


Sideon said...

Amazing story. It's incredible, the way long-lost relationships can still have an effect on us today.

"...this sweet guy with puppy dog eyes who loved to race the wind..."

There are times that the memories of those long-lost loved ones are the best things that will ever come of their lives.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your wonderful comments. I'm in a mad dash to catch up on reading with your site.

Be well.