So what happened to Mary when she found herself in Tallahassee, living with someone she didn't know, didn't care for, with very few friends and no purpose in life? And of course who was in what I now realize was a clinical depression.
I'm not exactly sure how things progressed, time-wise. I have so many memories but when I try to connect them as to time and place, they seem scattered and confused.
One thing I do know is that I never even considered moving back to Winter Haven. The idea of living in the same town or (god forbid) the house where my family lived was simply impossible. I did miss my baby brothers with all of my heart but I had escaped my stepfather and I was not going back. Luckily, I had inherited a little money. Well, it was a fairly sizable amount in those days, especially when I first learned of it. It came from my biological father's side of the family who were quite wealthy but my mother and my stepfather were in control of it until I turned thirty. Or something like that. I'm not sure. Unfortunately, the lawyer my stepfather had handling the funds turned out to be a crook and he embezzled a shitload of the bucks.
My stepfather walked into the guy's office one day and he said, "Well, Charlie, call the police. I've lost most of your money and your kids' money too."
I think he did go to jail but a lot of good that did us. Still, I had enough that I wasn't desperate enough to be forced home. I got a stipend, of sorts. Enough to pay cheap Tallahassee rent and for gas and food and the occasional lid of grass. To this day I'm pretty sure that my stepfather also had his hand in the till. There was some sort of arrangement wherein if expenditures from my fund paid for things necessary for me (like college), they could be taken from the inheritance.
A nice house, an addition to that house, a Porsche...
Yeah, well. Whatever.
When those things were purchased I didn't even know about the inheritance. And I do not begrudge these things very much. I can't imagine the weight on my stepfather's chest and if the guilt about misusing funds added to it- all the better.
That, of course, is assuming he ever experienced any feelings of guilt which I sort of doubt.
But. Back to Tallahassee.
One of the women I met through D. was another student in the music school. Her name was Paula and she was (and still is) one of the most amazing human beings I ever met. She took me under her wing, she moved me into her house where she lived with a roommate named Bruce who was beautiful and was gay, and she was one of the most formative parts of my growing up. She was one of the most intelligent people I'd ever met, was hugely talented and impossibly dedicated to her art. She had already been all over the world, studying piano with different teachers, had had affairs with many of those teachers in all of those places, and could be the silliest, giggliest, sweetest, funniest person in the world. She swooped me up, she installed me in her little rental house in my own bedroom, she cooked pinto beans and soybeans and taught me how to cook squash. She bought Challah from a local bakery on Fridays and bought real butter to go on it, not that hideous margarine I'd been raised on. I went to her recitals, we went to sleazy redneck bars and took our own cream so they could make us White Russians. We even went to the nastiest adult theater in the world which was not very far from our house and we watched what passed for porn in those days. We went to a chicken bar where young gay men were picked up older gay men. We ate Chinese food. We went shopping and tried on evening gowns. We walked about our house naked, as did Bruce and whoever was visiting.
Paula loved. And the fact that she loved me went a million miles into helping me heal from my depression, from helping me begin to heal from childhood sexual abuse. She taught me that my body was fine, nothing special, everything special. She taught me that loving other people was just the exact thing to do. She showed me that rules are meant to be broken, that the old, tired mores were just that- old and tired.
We adopted two black kittens, Simone and Isadora. We loved them like our babies.
Paula gave me life.
I absolutely believe I would not be here if not for her.
There were other people whom I can say that about too and I will tell their stories as well. I will.
Meanwhile, today was a good day. Another domestic day. I almost finished Maggie's dress. I did a little cleaning. I ironed.
It is fucking hot.
Maggie went to her second dance class and was fine. She had fun and participated in all of it. August went to his first day of preschool and he had a good time too.
I think that's all I have to say right now.
Paula sounds like a force of nature. I wish I had known someone like that.ReplyDelete
i love these stories and I may share about my own versions of your Paula. Have a great night.ReplyDelete
You've had some really interesting people in your life! Your telling of the tale of your life makes for an interesting and fun read.ReplyDelete
Glad that both Maggie and August had good time at dance and preschool.
There was a notorious case I remember in Winter Haven of a financial manager who scammed lots of people back in the late '80s. I can't remember the guy's name but I wonder if that was your guy?ReplyDelete
I needed a Paula in my life!
There are saints who come along at the exact right moment in our lives, and they give us back to ourselves. Paula did that for you. What a special human being, the embodiment of love. Thank you, Paula, for loving our friend Mary, for helping her get whole. May we all have a Paula in our lives when we need it most.ReplyDelete
And: August is starting school??? I swear time is just flashing by. Gah, I remember when Owen was helping you sweep your porch and brush your hair. And now there are five, and the third one is starting school, too?? Trying to catch my breath here.
Oh Mary I am so sorry that you had to go thru all of that. Your a very strong woman and I see your strength in every post.ReplyDelete
I was reading this tragic story today of a young lady who had been molested by her own father since she was 2 years old and developed over a thousand multiple personalities. Only 30 come out but most of the time it is just 2 that dominate her life. He will die in prison and she said that she can go forward now.
I broke down and cried. How hard it must be to be clinically depressed. I self committed myself into a hospital and I just had a major surgery that saved my life but one day my son came in just as I was about to swallow a shit load of pills.
It took a while but found that I was taking 2 medications that caused a serious reaction.
After my body was cleaned it was like day and night. Everything became clearer. Too bad that was when I developed my anxiety disorder.
I wish I could give you a giant hug and tell you how brave you are and how strong you are. Never forget that Mary. You are a SURVIVOR!