Eric and Katrina

I had reached a point in my life where I didn’t really believe in true, fairy tale love and was quite content in settling for companionship.  As long as I could have someone there with me to go to bed with at night, hold my hand once in a while during the day and keep me distracted from the voices in my head, I felt the love vacancy had been filled.  There were so many ghosts in my past, clamoring to be heard, that having someone else to take up some of the attention was a Godsend.  That’s where I was in my head when I married my first husband for the second time.   

I believed in that romantic kind of love when I got married at sixteen, the fairy tale stuff, that is.  Since we don’t usually have a standard for male-female relationships other than what our parents set for us, it seems that we are doomed to repeat those patterns in our own interpersonal relationships, no matter what idealistic ideas books and Hollywood have given us.  Although my first husband (who would subsequently end up being my second husband as well), was seemingly as different from my dad as night and day, subversely, they were very much alike and in as many ways, the dysfunctions that existed between my parents themselves, as well as between myself and my parents were duplicated in my marriage to Paul (The Goat, as he is referred to in my journal from time to time).  Although my parents never had a drop of alcohol brought into their house and never picked up a cigarette, they had all of the hallmarks of addicts and were very dysfunctional people, constantly competing with one another in any number of ways for attention and having absolutely no qualms about sacrificing someone dear to them to get it.  Their drug of choice was both food and attention.  They could never get enough of either.   

Paul’s was alcohol.  He was (and I presume still is) hypoglycemic, so alcohol did really strange things to him.  He could “turn” after two beers or ten; you never knew when it was going to hit.  He would become a totally different person and was extremely aggressive and emotionally abusive to me and the kids.  Without going deeply into it, he also had his issues with physical abuse, but although I could feel the wrongness of it, I didn’t have the first clue of what to do about it.  His behavior during those times and sometimes even sober was no different than my father’s, so it took a long time before I could have external validation of my feelings that what he was doing was wrong.  When a behavior has existed your whole life, through childhood and into marriage, it becomes normal and it’s not until you pick up on what’s going on in the outside world that you question its morality, no matter how bad it makes you feel inside. 

We had three sons and Paul left us eight times, for varying lengths of duration, during the first marriage, which lasted 15 years.  The last time when he left for good, supposedly, I was so hurt and angry that I started a relationship with someone that I perceived to be his polar opposite, my friend who was younger than I was, carefree, gregarious and self-centered.  We will call him The Renaissance Faire Bunny or “RFB” for short.  My friend, the RFB, was leaving his long term girlfriend at the same time Paul was leaving me, so RFB rented a room in the only house available for me to rent, which I, unfortunately, could not afford.  His contribution a month helped me to make the rent.  It didn’t take long.  Shortly after our relationship moved beyond friendship, I realized that the taking up with RFB was a mistake.  I hadn’t had the time I needed to get to know myself as a person, rather than a collective.  I hadn’t explored why my relationship with The Goat had been so toxic and painful to both of us.  I hadn’t sufficiently detoxed, so I repeated the same patterns again, looking for comfort in the familiar.  RFB would NOT work.  Not only would he not hold down a job, but he would not even help keep the house clean while I worked.  He did nothing but play computer games all day.  Nothing.  He was a pathological liar.  He was just trouble from the word go.  Worse, he was *dumb*.  I never thought intelligence was a big issue for me, but boy, did he ever teach me that lesson.  Unfortunately, he lived in my house and proved hard to extricate.  I told him the end of October, two months after he moved in and a month after we started our “relationship,” that he had to find somewhere else to live before I killed him in his sleep.  Months ticked by and he became the most obnoxious human to ever suck air.  To make matters worse, in February of 1992, February 14th, to be exact, I found out that The Goat had told me a GIANT lie about a nasty little welfare queen that he’d been banging away at and in a fit of fury, I had revenge sex with the RFB for the first time since October.  Pow.  Despite a condom and a sponge on the last day of my period, I was pregnant.  RFB was sure that the pregnancy not only sealed his rental lease, but his place in my life and my heart.  Unfortunately for him, it had the opposite effect.  Since he was quite the guppy who had procreated and swam away from a few others, I knew he’d have little interest in the baby beyond his own ego, so it expedited the process somewhat.  In May, my youngest son at that time, Josh (who was then eight), mouthed off to RFB in a particularly fluorescent way.  RFB threw a paperback book at him and popped him in the nose.  The nose exploded and blood went everywhere.  A friend of ours who was visiting at the time said that he’d never seen anyone NOT live somewhere so fast in his life.  RFB was out the door within fifteen minutes of letting the book fly.  That fifteen minutes gave him plenty of time to wreck the house, bash in a few cupboard doors, tear the garage door off the hinges and break some dishes (what a guy).  He came back about a month later to pick up his crap when I moved.  I’d packed it in boxes in the garage and to this day I regret not having a giant yard sale with it.  I was just too nice back then. 

That was the last and only relationship I had after that until The Goat resurfaced.  He’d volunteered for a base in Japan (he was Air Force) and so he was gone for two years.  I gave birth to my beautiful Delena in November and moved out of the area.  Never saw RFB again, being the guppy he is.  I did speak to him in another moment of weakness some five years later and sent him pictures of Delena.  He let me know how beautiful she was and beyond that, was only interested in when we could get together.  (ewww AND still dumb)  From what I hear now, his evolutionary process has not hit a growing spree in these nine years since I last saw him. 

After dismissing RFB, I set about awaiting the return of The Goat.  He assured me, very long distance, that it would not happen.  I assured him that it would.  I put my wedding ring back on and despite divorce papers in my underwear drawer, waited.  January of 1994, it paid off.  He was coming back in March, his girlfriend had dumped him and he wanted his family back.  Score!  He asked me to marry him and for once in our relationship, *I* got to be right.  We married again on March 21 and I wore black since white hadn’t seemed to do me much good.  Here me now and believe me later:  There are very, very good reasons why people get divorced. 

It was a struggle from the word go.  He was pissed I had gained weight.  I was pissed that he was still an asshole.  He was pissed that I had strangely developed a backbone and refused to let him abuse me, the kids or our pets any more.  It went downhill from there.  We lived in Mountain Home, Idaho, the sorriest environment on the face of the planet.  I hated it.  He hated it.  The kids hated it.  The good thing was that his job required that he travel a lot, so he was gone about every other month for a couple of weeks at a time.  On one of his trips, to Nellis AFB in the Las Vegas area, he kept on driving to Edwards AFB, knocked on the door of a woman he’d known from work when we were stationed at George AFB and went straight to the couch to nail her.  When he got back from that assignment, he announced that he was in love with her, leaving us and it was not negotiable.  I was well beyond shocked.  He had SWORN to me and the kids that he’d NEVER leave us again.  I had asked him THE DAY BEFORE he left for this trip if he was happy, if there was anything I could do to make his life better.  He smiled and assured me that he was happy and I was a great wife .  The thought of being a single, impoverished parent of four again terrified me and I fought like an Irish sailor to keep my marriage.  He had sworn to the boys that he’d never leave them again and here he was dumping them.  He’d been a dad to Delena for two years and here he was dumping her, all for a piece of tail.  He’d even gotten a tattoo while he was gone:  a shark.  How appropriate that it was a predator.  He’d taken his new woman to meet his family before he ever came home to tell me.  I was literally the last to know. 

Long story short, he won (I still think he did this just to prove me wrong about the one thing I was right about in our whole marriage) and we divorced.  The kids opted to live with me, but David and Josh wanted to finish out their school years in their current school, so they stayed with Dad for a while longer.   

I told you that story so I could tell you this one, because we were talking about true love stories and the first half of this was not.  It was a true dysfunction story and tells you how I got to a point that I lost the idea of true love, unconditional caring and having your heart leap EVERY time you see someone.  There’s a lot more to it and it would only bore your eyes out of your head if I went on about it.  There were good times, don’t get me wrong, but there were more bad than good.  So with The Goat having set his sights on finishing up his tour of Mountain Home so that he could get to California to proceed frequent copulation with the She Goat, we now move on to Chapter Two, in which our intrepid heroine is stunned to find what she thought was nothing more than an urban legend:  true love.  More elusive than the unicorn, I didn’t think it existed, much less could ever come my way.  

Being that I am a good Witch and not a bad Witch (though swaying dangerously back and forth on THAT fence at the time), I could not do anything nasty to the Goat couple like make all their hair fall out or have them lose various targeted body parts.  Sighing over those blasted ethical restraints, I looked at my Tarot card spread one more time to be sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Yep.  The man who was going to change my life forever was on a direct collision course with my life, targeted to hit on September 6th, 1996, exactly one day after my 35th birthday, twenty-eight days from the date of the reading.  Shit.  I didn’t feel ready for anything more to change my life, so I scooped up the cards, thought about free will, thought about the ethical constraints again and then decided to put it all in the hands of the Universe and have faith that it was for everyone’s greatest good, no matter what happened. 

But let me back up a bit to explain why The Goat’s foray into the search for a She-Goat *might* have actually been initiated by me.  In March of that year, The Goat and I went to a production of “The Sound of Music” put on by my son’s high school drama class.  Before the play began, there was a show put on by a group (will never forget this) called, “The Swing Kids.”  They were a dance troupe of about 30 kids who wore period clothes, big smiles and did swing dancing.  While I was watching them, not a clue that anything other than the usual could be wrong with my about average marriage, I took in their smiles, which really came from their hearts rather than being plastered on for the show.  These kids were having a blast kicking it up, jumping, jiving and wailing.  I felt the first tear slip out before I knew it was there and soon, I was bawling my eyes out.  I took me a few minutes to figure out why I was reacting so strongly.  It was because they were filled with joy and it had been so long since I’d felt joy in my life, if ever.  This realization really shook me up a lot because I was climbing up on half way through my life and joy was not a common commodity.  I vowed that day to end the joy drought in my life.  THAT is when I felt everything turn around and The Universe picked up my life and shook it like a snow globe.   

When I did the reading that showed Sept 6th as the operative day, I again got a clear image of those kids dancing with joy in their hearts. 

I hated, absolutely hated, the man I met on September 6th.  He was the RFB in every way you could imagine except that he was actually in the Air Force and had an income.  Otherwise, he was a cookie cutter RFB clone.  They looked alike, had the same mannerisms, same habits, same outlook, same speech patterns.  Both were double Gemini’s.  Both were leaving their long term relationships.  Since I was 200 pounds, had four children, was 35 and was alone again, I didn’t have any better offers and none seem forthcoming.  He was definitely wanting a relationship, so I followed the cards’ advice from a month before and went for it.  It was horrible.  He lied incessantly.  He disliked my kids and the feeling was reciprocated.  He moved into a room in my house and history proceeded to repeat itself.  The Goat was absolutely gleeful that I was screwing up so righteously while he was eagerly planning his new life with his beloved She Goat.  The man who would change my life forever was going to give me an ulcer first or else I’d kill him.  How could this goofy little obnoxious man ever change my life in a positive way?? 

“My friend is coming out from Sacramento to visit us.  You’ll love him.”  That was probably the only true sentence RFB2 spoke to me the whole time I knew him. I did love his friend.  Immediately.  Truly.  Madly.  Deeply.  Through oceans of time and until I drop dead will I love this man.  When he arrived on my doorstep, despite the presence of the man who was my current relationship person, my first words to Eric were, “Hello, Destiny.”  I’m so glad I said something cool.  We connected immediately and talked all through the night.  Poor RFB2 tried his best to follow the conversation, but he just wasn’t equipped for the job.  It was like a mo-ped trying to keep pace with a couple of Porches.  We never acted on any inclinations other than deep friendship…not even for a moment.  The click had happened and I knew what RFB2 had been sent into my life to do.  Eric stayed in our house for 3 weeks.  My kids liked him immediately and a good time was had by all.  When it was time for him to leave, he and I were both in tears as he drove away.  He called me every night for almost two months.  That was when he asked me to marry him.  My divorce from The Goat had been final in December and in January, we decided to risk all.  He said I was the Yin to his Yang.  : Ţ  I set up a move to Sacramento and prepared to get the hell out of Idaho.  About two weeks before Martin Luther King Day, January 19th of that year, he called to say he couldn’t go through with it.  He hadn’t lived enough life yet and couldn’t settle down with one person.  His mom had given him the talk he needed (thank God, in retrospect) and he was backing out.  Everything else was set up for the move, I just had nowhere to go.  Damn.  He didn’t call for a couple of days after that, so I called him back and he was thrilled that I was still speaking to him.  I told him that Joe (my son who was coming with me) and I had talked and that I was still coming to Sacramento on my own.  I had other friends there and they would help me get settled.  He was overjoyed. 

No one told me that when you drive from Idaho to California in January with two adults, a four-year-old, two cats, two turtles and a cockatiel in a giant cage (or even when you don’t), that there is something called “the pass” in between point A and point B.  On “the pass” there is a huge amount of white stuff called “snow” and slippery stuff called “ice.”  You are supposed to have these tire wrap thingies called “chains” in your trunk before you leave.  It should be in a travel guide somewhere.  A night in a hotel, $80 for a pair of chains and a 360 degree turn down the mountain later, we finally arrived in Sacramento at the home of my friend, April.  It was great to see Eric, who arrived within minutes of my call to let him know I was there.  I also got to connect with April and Mystic, friends of mine from Apple Valley, California who had relocated north (separately) and it was great to see them again after 5 years.   

We found a house in the ratty part of town, walking distance from the base where Eric worked and lived in the barracks.  He came to visit 2-3 times a week, fixed things around the house and with the car, ate the food I made and kicked back to talk and laugh and have fun.  I told him everything.  He was the best girlfriend I ever had.  Because he had been absolutely adamant that there would never be a relationship between us (I was too old, he was too young – he was 15 years younger than me), we could talk about anything without threat of it ever interfering with our relationship.  He’d still call me at 2am to talk for hours, sometimes after he’d just left at 11pm or so.  He dated a few girls, all Barbie dolls and almost got serious with one.  It was hard to see that, but I knew it was best for him. I didn’t date.  Instead, I worked on me and healed and walked backward down the Goat Path, rewriting history in my head now that I could see things more objectively.  I had always taken The Goat’s word on authority on how things were, who I was and who he was to the point that I’d never bothered to formulate my own opinions.  It was an arduous task to go back through all the years and figure things out for myself.  As far as Eric went, I realized that, with the major bargaining chip of sex being taken out of play, I still had something to offer as a person.  I knew Eric wasn’t hanging around for sex and I knew he could get good food in the chow hall on base, so I was happy to see that he was there for me, for my company.  He was handsome, strong, caring and he wanted to spend time with me.  His girlfriends, of course, never liked our friendship, even though he assured them it was strictly platonic.  That was probably because he stood them up a few times to come hang out with me.  Yeah, that’d do it.  I continued to heal, realizing how long I had seen myself through The Goat’s eyes, who saw me as nothing more than a dumb, fat little country girl that he’d rescued from Kentucky.  A strong, independent and vibrant woman, such as I’d begun to emerge into during the first divorce, was utterly terrifying to him.  He liked me better when I was afraid of him.  Too, too much pain to walk through and work hard to understand, but I did it. 

I could barely hold the phone, my hand was shaking so hard and I made him repeat it again.  Eric had orders to Saudi Arabia and would be leaving in a month, September.  He’d be gone for four months.  Four.  Months.  Four months without my friend.  We waded the countdown admirably and I drove him to the airport.  It was all I could do to keep from throwing my arms around him and begging him to stay.  Instead, we did our usual hug, pelvises a safe distance apart and kiss on the cheek.  He’d call me.  He’d e-mail me.  It’d be over soon.  Hadn’t the time flown by since I’d come to Sacramento?  Almost a year now!  This would go fast too. 

It didn’t.  It dragged.  He called me as the airplane was reaching cruising altitude and told me he missed me already.  We phoned and e-mailed like fiends, many, many times a day.  I worked night shift and he worked days, so across the world, our schedules meshed perfectly.  One night, when we were going into our second hour of talking, I got a horrible thought and asked him if it was this hard now, what would we do if he actually got ORDERS to another BASE??  Yikes!  We talked about how horrible it would be to end up just being Christmas cards that one day stopped.  “That’s it,” he said.  “When I come back, we’re getting married.”  “Yeah, right,” I thought.  “I’m not falling for that again.”  “No,” he said, “Hear me out.  I can still date, we can live together. I’ll have my own room and we can hang out together all the time.  It’ll be great!  It’ll be just like it always has been, except we can hang out together all the time!”  I thought about it and figured it would be a pretty good deal having my friend there all the time, plus, if he did get orders, I could automatically move with him without having to foot the bill myself.  He had no interest in marrying anyone else soon and I agreed that if he found someone who could offer him what we had, plus was in his age range, I’d give him a divorce immediately.   

He was home less than a month later, more than two months ahead of schedule.  He spent another night in the barracks, then moved his things into our house.  He decided he didn’t want to oust Joe from his room and make him share with one of his brothers, so he took the couch until we could figure something else out or get a bigger house.  We drove to Reno five days later on November 13th, his birthday.  All the way down the aisle, to the last filing of papers, I was positive he was going to back out and I was OK with that.  There were worst things in life than friends going to Reno and losing our asses at the slot machines after an abortive stop at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel.  To my shock, we came away married.  I am probably the only women who not only walked down the aisle with a man that she’d never kissed (OK, once, but we were drunk and it was when I first got to Sac), but also spent her wedding night with her new husband on the couch yacking with his new stepson, who also was his best male friend. 

Five days later, the truth came out.  We had both married the other with a secret agenda to get the other one to fall in love with them.  It was a tense moment, worthy of any soap on the tube, when that came out.  The first kiss was electric and all those feelings that had been walled up for a year flooded out.  Age difference be damned!  We were off and rolling and never looked back. 

That was almost four years ago.  We have two beautiful little boys.  Dylan is 3 and Nathan is 17 months.  He is dad to Delena and she adores him.  All of my sons love and respect him and he and Joe are still best friends, even though Joe lives in Canada now.  It has been…magic.  I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard at times.  Anyone who has a really good relationship after really bad ones knows how you automatically overlay the bad one over the good and treat the new, good guy like he’s every dud you ever made the mistake of taking up with.  Eric was gentle and forgiving enough to take my face in his hands in my midrant and say, “I’m not Paul.  I’ll help you through this, but I will not let you punish me for what he did.”  He had his lessons to learn about being a husband for the first time and he weathered them admirably.  My heart still leaps when I see him.  The sight of him just takes my breath away.  I will always know that he didn’t marry me for sex and certainly not for my 220 pound body.  We fell in love in our souls and are still the very best of friends.  There have been challenges, that’s for sure.  For the first three and a half years, we lived on a little less than $20,000 a year because we both believed deeply that we wanted our children raised by one of their parents, so I quit my job to be a stay home mom and we rolled with the financial punches that resulted.  My pregnancy with Nathan was extremely hard and he had to nurture me through months of barely being able to move.  His mother got better and we now have a good relationship, although it took some adjusting.  I inherited a wonderful family and my kids have the best Gramma and Grandpa in the world.  I love the way my husband looks at me with so much love and devotion.  I never thought it could be like this…but I’m glad it is.  J It really is out there and is NOT just a fairy tale. 

For all of you who haven’t found this yet, I beg you to hold out for it because it is well worth the wait.  I think people tend to treat marriage as the 2am last call for alcohol and start frantically looking around for someone, anyone to go home with for the night.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Figure out what you want and claim it from the Universe.  Accept no imitations and be sure and find out what makes YOU tick before you take on a passenger.  Until you know yourself, you don’t have a clue what you can offer anyone else and will just keep repeating the same mistakes, over and over (read:  RFB).  Speaking of the RFB2, he really did change my life forever. It doesn’t always happen the way you expect.  

Oh and for a quick update, The Goat family got orders to a base in Turkey and will be out of the area for two years (everyone together:   “Awwwwwwwwww”). While I am losing inches like a champ, The Goat has grown quite a gut and is seriously balding, looking about twenty years older than he is.  OK, so maybe I slipped off the fence a little bit (not really).  I’m leaning more toward The Universe working out karma in this life instead of the next.  Have not doubts, my loves, what goes around, comes around and, as Danny Laruso says in The Karate Kid, “It’s coming around!”  Just make sure that what’s coming around to you is something you want!

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Me and My Sweet Baboo
December 16, 2000