My life has been a constant test of endurance… Not just because my father was an abusive alcoholic who came around only to crack the whip, impede confidence, and destroy fragile hearts; but also because I made piss poor choices every step along the way.
Looking back on my life, it is very clear to me that I have always done everything ass backwards, like having my first child before finishing high school and my second before I even thought to take my first step toward independence. After turning 21, I enrolled in community college hoping to one day be able to support myself as an adult; but I was still a lost, frightened, and confused child emotionally.
Although my life had limited drama by the time I had my second child, it wasn’t easy trying to raise my boys when Eric, my younger son’s father, was nothing but a big kid himself. My children were really happy in those days and we laughed all the time; but I knew I wasn’t giving them the best shot at life. I was with a man who didn’t seem to want much out of life. He was content with chasing a dream that ran much faster than he ever could. He played guitar and sang backup with RJ’s Latest Arrival, a local group in Detroit. I don’t know how RJ managed to pull it off with so little talent but he had a couple hit records: Shackles on My Feet and Heaven in Your Arms were his pride and joy. His wife Dee Dee had a decent voice, but that’s as far as the talent went. No one in the group stood out as exceptional and they only booked small venues in the south. Eric had more talent than RJ but he was content with being a small player in another man’s dream.
Sadly, he had the same attitude as a mechanic. Eric was an excellent mechanic and when we met he had a good paying job Flannery Ford dealership. That was short lived. It wasn’t long before he gave that up and ended up working out of small garages. Then later on in our 13 years together he wound up at a Shell Gas Station working as a mechanic in another man’s dream. All this when he could very well have opened his own shop and been his own boss. I tried to encourage him to open his own shop in the mid 1980’s. I remember buying him a variety of Christmas gifts one year… all geared toward starting his own business. I had even printed up flyers for him and passed them around the neighborhood to help build his customer base. But the idea of being his own boss died a sudden death. He said he never liked getting his hands dirty… he would rather try to make it in the music industry.
Eric and I both had a great sense of humor and we were always laughing and kidding around; but after 12 years of clowning, I wanted out. Living in a drug-infested neighborhood with a dreamer had run its course and I was no longer laughing like I used to. There was nothing funny about drug traffic running in and out of neighboring houses or neighborhood bullies picking fights with my children. I also suddenly realized I wasn’t getting any younger and that life was quickly passing me by. It was time to move on.
Waking up from my slumber and seeing my life pass me by was frightening and depressing. Eric and I had no plans for the future and I saw no hope on the horizon with my limited outlook. My jobless dreamer and I were going wherever life took us, never questioning where we were headed, just content with navigating lifeless hills and barren valleys collecting trinkets and souvenirs along the way. That was enough for me. At the age of 32 I packed up whatever ambition I could find and attempted to sprout my own wings. I wanted to see what the world had to offer a very late and insecure bloomer.
Before I could even begin to soar with my newly sprouted wings I met Leon, the man I would eventually divorce. But we didn’t untie the knot before I gave birth to my third and final son six years into our rollercoaster marriage. And in keeping with my backwards way of doing things, Leon and I shared separate dwellings throughout most of our marriage. I had moved into my own place after just five years of marriage.
Having my own place was a back-and-forth adventure. After our son was born I gave up my apartment and moved back in with my husband. But so much damage had been done to our marriage by this time, it was only a matter of time before I was moving out again. Leon and I eventually made it through the storm in one piece; but when the skies cleared and the dust settled, we found ourselves knee deep in divorce papers. We didn’t dig ourselves out as thoroughly as he had hoped but instead we settled in the murky mire of painful memories and continued to sink further in despair. After much soul searching on both our parts and the many failed starts I suffered on my own, we eventually found our way back together and are at least living peacefully under one roof.
Leon caused me a lot of heartache in the beginning of our relationship but I managed to hang in there with him. Today he is my hero in many ways because he is the one and only man who has always been there for me. He was always willing to pick me up whenever I have fallen… always taking me back with open arms whenever I failed miserably trying to make it on my own. For that, I feel eternally grateful to him… Although I’m not sure gratitude is the right reason to be in a relationship. Everyone deserves to be happy and loved sincerely and I truly hope that one day Leon will enjoy such a love. But no matter how hard he tries to rebuild the love we once had, I have been unable to show him the slightest hint of affection after so many years of turmoil.
I know that I, too, deserve something out of all the trials… I deserve to give love in a way I have been unable to for so long. The problem is I’m not sure I have the heart for love anymore. My heart is empty and my spirit is worn. But I also know my journey is not yet complete, so I will keep trying to fly despite the very faint wind beneath my wings. I have often thought of writing a biographical novel to share my story but being that I’m nobody in particular, I’m left to wonder who would read it anyway. Still, I have a lot of life lessons to pass on so I decided instead to share my life, in prose, here at Tea Room Diaries for passersby along the way… And, of course, for my grandchildren too, so that they will have an opportunity to know a little about me when I’m longer here to share my story with them.