"Wishing For Another World" (Part One)
A woman sat on the side of the bed. She was not an unattractive woman, even though she never wore make-up. Her pale blue eyes still shone, and her figure still resembled that of her teenage years. Her face bore few wrinkles, but was slowly being worn by time and worry. And amongst her fine dark hair small tiny flecks of grey had begun to appear. Still, many mistook her for several years younger. She looked over her tiny frame, still clad only in bra and g-string. She felt satisfied that she had kept in such good shape.
Yep, I knew those times at the gym were worth something, she thought thankfully to herself
She fingered the small tassels of the bed cover and sighed. She glanced around the motel room taking note of the decor. She thought it probably would have been very trendy in 1968. Tacky tan coloured wallpaper peeled off the walls. Brown mesh curtains hung limply on their rod, backed by a creaky water stained blind. On the floor there was an orange shagpile carpet stained by years of spilt alcohol, cigarettes, and just who knows what else. The smell hung heavily in her nostrils. Jeff had just left saying he was going to get beer.
God, she needed one right now...maybe two.
She wasn't sure when he'd be back, whether she should wait or not. She was used to waiting. It had been a long journey in life that had brought her here to Seattle and Jeff. The thought struck her that Jeff had many of the attributes of the previous men in her life, just a bit older.
Yes, even Michael, she chuckled to herself, he's a lot like Michael.
And now, strangely after all these years, the image of him came to her...
Michael was her first serious relationship. She had met him at university in Nevada. He had been the original wild boy. Lots of late night parties, days missing, always pleading with lecturers for extensions. They had been one of the better known couples on campus and were inseparable for nigh on eighteen months. Always at the right parties, band nights, college events. They were even immortalised in a promotional college handout. They were kind of different, but they were young. There was no looking to a big future in those times.
Then came graduation time. Michael 'walked' with her at the ceremony, but held back by a dissenting professor, still had one semester left when she had gone off to San Diego in search of work. Uninvited, he trailed his Kombi van out a few months later.
She had made the transition from college to the work force, but he found it difficult. He quickly ensconced himself into her living space without permission. He was eating her food, sitting around all day watching TV, ocassionally smoking dope, and night clubbing till the small hours. He didn't feel bad about it, nor did he see the changes. He saw their tensions as something natural - but he also sensed her resentment, and wanted to show his commitment to the relationship.
She recalled a conversation they had one night. He was lying on the couch watching TV, while she tried to do some work at her desk.
"Can you please turn that down?"
"I'm trying to work"
"You're always busy with work or books. Why don't you try to talk to me instead? We never talk."
"Maybe I've got nothing I want to say to you."
"Well, maybe you could at least try..."
She scowled at him, picked up her things, and went to sit in the kitchen.
When he did propose she finally realised how far they had grown apart in such a short time. She asked him to leave but he refused. The home situation became tense and she spent more time at her work just to avoid him. He would call her at work and regale her with crap like,
"I'm at the top of a building and will throw myself off if you don't change your mind".
Her heart hardened, and any compassion she had left drained away. In desperation she packed her bags and headed east, leaving him to pay the five weeks rent arrears. As her car pulled out through El Cajon she made a vow to herself,
"I will never, ever let that happen to me again".
She gripped the wheel tightly with resolve and sped into the night. At 3am she stopped at a ramshackle roadhouse somewhere near Yuma. Over a dark brown coffee she kept reaffirming her decision. Never, ever, again.
She felt strongly the humiliation of the experience. In her younger years she remembers crying - alone, ignored, uncomforted. Now she felt no pity for herself, nor for her parents, nor for anyone else. As the oldest child her parents has constantly shamed and disgraced her as an example to her younger siblings. The worst example was once being made to sit naked for hours for the simple indiscretion of 'forgetting' to do the ironing for her mother - exposed, helpless, humiliated.
To avoid the shame she would spend long hours alone in her room, finding consolation and a temporary respite in her books. She could enjoy the imaginary lives of others even if she couldn't enjoy her own. She thought and hoped she had broken free from their yoke of oppression. She had left home a long time ago. Her parents had later separated, her father fleeing to Las Vegas to find consolation in all its trappings, her mother trying to piece together the bankrupt remains of their life together. Their love had been difficult and burdensome, just as it had been with Michael.
She wanted to find love, and determined that it was just a matter of her meeting the right kind of guy. But it would have to be without the pain she'd known, and it would have to be on her terms. It was as simple as that...
Scottsdale - Arizona, became her new address. It was there that she met John through a friend at work. What a catch he was! An ambitious young lawyer. He was intelligent, outgoing, with fine taste in everything it seemed. They would talk for hours about books, movies, politics, anything and everything. He would drop little gifts in her letterbox, and red roses would turn up on her desk at work. Dinners, parties, friends, it was all a whirl, with no time to think. She wanted to tell him to slow down but she couldn't - it was all just so wonderful.
One night at dinner he handed over another small gift. It contained the most beautiful diamond ring she had ever seen. Until now everything had seemed like a dream in some romantic novel. Suddenly she felt panic grip her heart. She stared speechless at the object in her palm.
John sensed the reaction in her eyes, she didn't have to say anything. With his features blazing, he said nothing and snatched the ring and case from her hand. All she could stammer was,
"John, you know I do care for you. I'm just not sure, I was so hurt with Michael".
He pushed his chair back and stood up,
"I'm not Michael, I'm John. Call me when you make up your mind".
He fumbled in his pocket, threw some dollars on the table, turned on his heel and left. She called him the next day but the mood was definitely cool. The relationship continued, but was never the same again. She came to a decision. It was not fair to continue it. Besides she needed space to think about things, and John was smothering her. She couldn't face him though, it would be too hard. She wrote him a note and slipped it under his door at 2.30 in the morning.
I hate to be writing like this. Ever since you proposed I've been feeling rather stunned. I wanted to slow down but I just couldn't tell you. I really have a lot on my mind and can't deal with any kind of serious relationship, let alone marriage. I know I have been acting cold, but my way of dealing with problems is to just withdraw and hide from all those around me. I've felt pressured by your needs. But it's my problem - not yours. Michael really threw me a loop and I need to get my head straight. I don't want to upset you or push you away. I just need space. You really are a wonderful person. Right now our 'love' needs wings, to be set free...but don't 'wait' for me...
He never called again. It was a few days later when the news reached her - John's car was found in the bottom of a ravine, the police suspected suicide...
The phone rang. It was the receptionist with the sweet southern drawl.
"I'm sorry miss, will you be much longer? We need to make the room up".
"I'm not sure. Just give me a little time, I don't think I'll be long".
"That's fine honey. Just swing past the office with the key on the way out".
"Okay, I shouldn't be long"...
Three months later found her some miles down the road south in Tucson. She was still the misanthrope, locked away for hours in her bedroom, not answering her phone, left alone with her books and thoughts. That was how she liked it, just being left alone. It was a respite from the hurt of Michael and John. This was a situation she could control, where nothing could intrude. She could impart her time to others at her leisure. In reality she had been this way all her life. She despised the herd and kept to a select few. Her personal hell tended to be other people.
Nevertheless she had decided that some change in her life was needed and had enrolled herself in a Masters degree. She loved the stimulation of college. From the first day of class she admired the dark haired man who always sat a few seats away. She guessed that he was about five years younger than her.
One day in the cafeteria she caught his eye as he walked past. He shyly asked if he could sit next to her and they talked for a while. His name was Billy, not William or Bill - just Billy, and he was from a large Mormon family in Utah. He was in fact six years younger than her. He spoke quietly, with little animation in his voice or body. Several lunch meetings later he finally worked up the courage to ask her out.
A few people in the class are going, would you like come too?
The relationship started slowly. It was several weeks before they even slept together. He hadn't pushed it, so neither did she. Their times together were generally low key - coffee, the cinema, hikes away in the mountains, a play. She was happy not to be rushed, and mistook his shyness for maturity.
Some months into the relationship he surprised her.
"How about seeing a band tonight?"
"Great! I haven't seen a band since I left college"
She immediately regretted saying that. It made her feel old in his presence.
That night she was even more surprised when Billy took on a whole new demeanour. With his shyness blotted out by the effects of alcohol, he became a dancing, swearing, laughing extrovert.
Now, bit by bit, this change became more manifest. He was far less shy as each day passed. Quiet nights turned into bar crawls, usually accompanied by three or four of his loud friends who were chagrined if she didn't bring any 'dates' for them. His lovemaking became hurried and demanding. Her mind was in a spin. She felt Billy was becoming younger by the day. Or maybe she was feeling older - she was not quite sure which.
In June another of Billy's favourite bands were coming to town, and on the night he made sure they got spots near the front. The moshing began early in the gig, and she suddenly found herself being lifted and tossed from hand to hand. "I'm too old for this shit", she was thinking to herself - just as the hands underneath gave way. She fell to the floor heavily, and immediately clutched at her knee in pain.
She was reading a book when Billy walked in through the ward door. He kissed her on the cheek as she turned her face away. He gently stroked her knee, now heavily braced and bandaged after the reconstruction. Before sitting down he placed some flowers on her side table, their red ribbon dangling sadly over the edge. He looked glumly at her stern face.
"I'm really sorry about all this. Still it was pretty funny."
She put her book on her lap and sighed.
"Well, it's not funny for me Billy. I'll have to take make-ups during summer, let alone the pain I've had to go through."
Billy shifted in his seat. He was feeling uncomfortable about the tone of her voice and took her hand. Hesitantly he began to speak.
"I've been thinking about things, about us. I've been really sad while you're here." He paused, gathering strength.
"I want us to get married".
She turned and fixed him with a steely gaze.
"No. I started a relationship with a college student, I'm not going to marry a high school kid. Go ask one of your school buddies instead"
She hated him. How dare he call her a "Bitch of an iceblock"...
At the end of summer she moved in with a college friend, Karen. Karen was the opposite of her. An extrovert, life of the party, risque, subject to fits of outrageousness. And now here she was sharing a trailer of all things! (Even now she still couldn't believe she'd spent nearly two years living in a trailer.) It was difficult at times, especially when either of them brought men home. Not that she'd ever been one for making a lot of noise. She still wasn't. She was always content to just lie back and let the man take the lead. Sex for her was mostly just a tumble on the sheets.
One night was a little different though. She had been seeing Kurt for awhile. He was the bass player in a band that was achieving some airplay and national fame. This meant he was out of town touring quite often. It suited her fine, as it did Kurt who was not big on commitment. His pet name for her was 'Dee', but he would never elaborate on the reasons why. This particular night they arrived back at the trailer drunk to the gills. Karen was still up watching late night TV.
"'scuze us Karen, we just going to have a quick screw" slurred Kurt.
"yeh Karen", the drunken 'Dee' laughed, "do you want to join us?"
Even after all these years it was still the only menage de trois Dee had ever had. She didn't find the whole thing terribly exciting, unlike Kurt who constantly wanted to repeat the exercise. He even wrote a song about it. Karen hated him for that, and always got pissed off whenever Kurt came around. She told Dee that she resented him not only for the song, but also because he was 'looking' at her all the time and making suggestive comments.
One night after another comment by Kurt, Karen just exploded,
"Fuck off Kurt. You've had your fun. It was just one night and it will never happen again! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?".
Kurt paused and flicked his long hair behind his shoulders.
"I'm a fucking famous bass player, that's who, and you're just a little whore hanging in a trailer with another intimately screwed-up friend. I don't need either of you."
He blew Dee a kiss, stormed out and she never saw him again, although even till this day she still hears his band on the radio. She once saw an article in Rolling Stone where he talked about a lady friend named 'Jay'. She wondered what had happened to E, F, G, H, and I. She was upset for some time - not that she really missed him. She had just become used to the power she had over men, and loved to call the shots. This was a whole new experience for her...
Press here to go to Part Two