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.