When I was twenty-nine years old, I was living in Salinas, California. I was a lost soul with nowhere to go, and I was going through my promiscuous stage (the most promiscuous stage of all my promiscuous stages). I was ‘dating’ a few men, and ‘seeing’ a few more, and meeting some others every night that I was not with one of my beaus.
One of my ‘feeling single, seeing double’ nights, I met a man named Kevin in an Irish Pub and we proceeded to get drunk. Hanging out with a strange man and getting drunk was not an odd occurrence for me, nor was spending the night together in his Jeep Grand Cherokee. The strange event was spending the next day together. With his best friend Mark in tow, my new cohort and I travelled from Salinas to Santa Cruz, and had the best day ever. He bought me a bathing suit, and we wandered the boardwalk, spending his money and having a ball. The three of us made a video of “Wild Thing” that was classic. We crossed the street to a little bar, and got very drunk on beer and tequila, laughing and carousing and enjoying ourselves thoroughly. When we got home, I spent the night with Kevin in his cottage.
Kevin had a ex-fiancé, Melody. Melody was about eight years younger than I. She had just broken off their engagement. Upon discovering that Kevin had a new fling, however, she decided that she loved him and wanted him back. Melody’s real name was Marjorie, but she had changed it in a California Cool moment. A week after the Santa Cruz trip, she came into the home that I was now sharing with Kevin and demanded to know what I was doing there. Yes, I was living with him. We were having such a blast, I just never left. I was living in a motel anyway, and the owners thought that I was a prostitute, which upset me very much, even though subconsciously, I understood completely. Everyone was happy, Kevin and I and the Motel owners, when Kevin and I picked up all my belongings and returned the room key.
With Melody back, Kevin felt torn. He had loved Marjorie/Melody so, and when she dumped him, it broke his heart. Now, here she was, asking for forgiveness and for him to love her. It appeared that I would be edged out by this jealous youngster. I wasn’t going to just walk away, though. I had nowhere else to go, and besides, I was having such a great time with Kevin, and he was a very good provider. I didn’t think he was a handsome man, but I imagined myself mature enough to like him for his kindness. I wanted to keep him, and I was prepared for war.
Kevin had to go to Reno, Nevada to visit his family for a week, and I stayed in the cottage. I got word that Melody was going to pick him up at the Airport in Monterey when he returned. I couldn’t let that happen. If they were alone, they would talk about old feelings, and she would worm her way back into his heart, and I would be out on the street, alone, without my chum. I didn’t own a car, so I hitch-hiked to Monterey airport on the day of his arrival.
I did very well hitching, and arrived an hour early. I ran into Melody at the airport, and we were both nervous and defensive. We decided the mature way to handle this was sit down, have a drink, and talk about it. We entered the airport bar, where we proceeded to quickly get drunk, as we both professed our undying love for Kevin to each other, in a game of one-upmanship. I don’t think either of us won the argument. Then, the time arrived, and we both rushed to the gate to greet Kevin.
He had an astonished expression on his face as he deplaned and came through the gateway. He smiled, as god bless him, he was always prone to do in any situation, and approached us as if we had all planned that we both would be there to greet him. I think at this point, Kevin had believed that I was just a fling, and he was going to return, ask me to leave, and rejoin his life with Melody. No one was ready to drive at that moment, so we all headed back to the airport bar and continued to get drunk. Melody and I presented our cases to Kevin, and it was a intoxicated version of The Dating Game with women he had already slept with. I suppose I would have been a great lawyer, especially if lawyers were allowed to kiss the juries, because I had triumphed; I had beaten my opponent and swayed the judge! Somewhere in our inebriated logic, we had all come to the decision that Kevin and I would remain together, and Melody would be the ex-fiancé and friend to us both.
Kevin also had another ex-fiancé in town, Linda. Linda was the bartender at the restaurant where Kevin was a regular drinker. I mean that every day, Kevin was there drinking while Linda bartended. I became a regular too, because now I lived with Kevin, and went where he went. Linda loved to talk about Melody, and how much Kevin and Melody had been in love. Melody was peripheral, but always there. If we went to a party, she was there. In the restaurant, she was there. It was clear that she had only conceded to losing the battle, not the war. Between Linda stirring the pot, and Melody playing the lovelorn victim, I knew I had to do something; there was the matter of pride at stake, not to mention living quarters and allowance! One month into our relationship (twenty-nine days of which we lived together), I asked Kevin to marry me, and he said, “Yes.” I had finally defeated Melody; I had won the entire campaign!
We were married on May 30, 1989 in Reno, Nevada, in Kevin’s brother’s living room, at two o’clock in the morning, which was very appropriate for a Reno wedding. In attendance were Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law, as well as the Reverend, who was Kevin’s best friend, and the Reverend’s live-in girlfriend. That was it. That was our entire wedding, which again, was typical for Reno. We returned to Salinas, and lived our lives. Kevin worked as an assistant chief engineer at Salinas General, and I spent my days looking for work in a lackadaisical manner, and drinking with the townies, all of us seeking a serious buzz with focused intent. We were almost always successful in our endeavors.
One month later, we had another wedding, this one in Jolon, California, at my foster sister Debbie’s home. We had friends from all over come to celebrate our marriage with us. The night before the wedding, we had a bachelor/bachelorette party in Debbie’s yard. Everyone brought their tents and camping equipment, so we all consumed massive amounts of beer, wine and hard liquor, and the night was like a large Hangover movie, except all the guests participated.
The next day, almost everyone woke up hung-over and nauseous, so we had to break open the champagne early. We could not have a celebration if everyone was sick! Even after a few glasses of champagne, I still had a headache and felt queasy, and I was in a bitchy mood. Kevin was not his usual happy self, and as we strung balloons for the party, we began to fight. We both said that if we were not already married, we would stop the ceremony and tell everyone to go home. We were married though, so we had the wedding, and it was beautiful, even though my Maid of Honor did not show up.
My Maid of Honor was supposed to be Linda, the bartender who was Kevin’s ex-fiancé. I acquiesced to the idea of having her as my right hand gal because I thought it was an olive branch to Kevin’s friends. Besides, she had volunteered, and I said, “Okay.” She never did anything for me, though. Kevin and I and my foster sister Debbie and the rest of my California family planned the whole thing. She didn’t make it to the party the night before, but I really thought she would show up for the wedding. She didn’t. Debbie stepped in, and the ceremony was actually simple and lovely. My brother Michael gave me away.
We left Jolon and spent three days in baking Bakersfield at Kevin’s friend’s house. It was a sprawling modern ranch with air conditioning and a pool, and they had money, so it was a fine honeymoon. I spent my days with the wife of the couple whose home it was, and we went shopping in Bakersfield’s malls, then came home to barbecue and swim. I enjoyed the pampering and could have stayed much longer.
We returned to Salinas, and Kevin went back to work for a few days, and then we went to San Jose for a honeymoon. Kevin’s friend in Bakersfield was a travel agent, and had gotten us free rooms at the San Jose Hilton, and guest passes to The Winchester Mystery House and Six Flags. We had so much fun.
Back in Salinas again, and Kevin began to get more and more involved with cocaine. I used cocaine too, but had always thought that I was a recreational user, where it was starting to affect Kevin’s job. I didn’t have a job, so I had no barometer for myself, to see if I was abusing the drug as well. My life was perfect, and he was about to mess it up by losing his job. I couldn’t have that. I thought if we had a change of scenery, if I got him away from Salinas and the drug dealers he was friends with, he could get another good job, and support me in the way I had quickly become accustomed to.
The hospital was threatening Kevin with disciplinary action for missing so much work, being late so often, and generally slacking off while there. He drank beer in the morning and had vodka and cocaine in the evening. He was never sober, but he was still hung-over when he got to work, until the alcohol kicked in. They wanted him to go to rehab, and he didn’t want to. He then agreed to pack up and move east, back to my hometown of South Orange, New Jersey. We loaded up a U-Haul and attached it to the Jeep, and headed off for nine crazy days and nights of adventure on Route 80. We had a wonderful time, stopping along the way to enjoy the sights.
We arrived in South Orange in October, 1989, two weeks before the Loma Prieta earthquake. We felt we had dodged a bullet. We stayed in my father’s house for about a month, and then Kevin got a job as Head Superintendent of a Condo Complex in North Plainfield. We moved into an all expenses paid three bedroom apartment on the property. We loved our new place; and Kevin especially loved it, because the very first Condo owner he met was the resident Yuppie drug dealer.
The reason we had moved had followed us, because it wasn’t the people around Kevin who made him do what he did, it was Kevin himself. It was me, too; but I still believed that because he had a job and was supposed to be responsible, and because he drank and snorted cocaine more than I did, I didn’t have a problem. It was his problem. I was just trying to straighten him out. Then I could relax and do what I wanted.
I started working as an Assistant Property Manager for the Condo Complex’s Management Company, in the office next door to my apartment. It was very convenient. We had met some more druggies through Kevin’s new friend, and spent every night drinking, and some nights drugging with his new pals. Even though we had virtually no expenses besides food, and I was working, and Kevin was paid quite well, we began to run out of money. Our biggest expenses were alcohol and cocaine. We had to find a way to come up with more dough to support our mutual habits. Kevin and I got so bad; we sold the air conditioner in our apartment to buy cocaine. It was up to us if we would rather snort than be cool. We didn’t have any children. There was a problem with that decision, however. The air conditioner belonged to the complex, not us. It was not a belabored point, and we didn’t have much remorse. We did worry a little that we would be caught.
I was still sure it was just Kevin’s problem, even though I had begun to have troubles at work. We were both having liquid lunches, and to make matters worse, the contractor working on the complex’s conversion from apartments to condos was big drinker, and our new friend, as well. We all had liquid lunches. Everyone knew we were drinking a lot, but very few people knew we were drugging; or so we thought.
Then, one day while I was at my desk at work, one of Kevin’s workers came running into the office and yelled with a heavy Haitian accent, “Kevin is sick. Kevin is sick.” I didn’t understand what he was talking about. If Kevin was sick, he needed to go home. Then he said, “He’s lying on the ground.” I jumped up, ran outside, and found my husband lying on the stoop to one of the buildings around the corner. One of the residents had already called 911, and a North Plainfield police officer who knew Kevin was kneeling next to him. I was saying, “Kevin! Kevin!”, but he was looking at me with a glazed look. The officer told me that he didn’t know who he was, either.
The ambulance arrived, and put Kevin on a stretcher. I tried to get in the back of the ambulance with him, but the EMTs asked me to sit up front. On the way to the hospital, they kept asking me if Kevin smoked cigarettes, drank a lot, did he drink today, did he do drugs? Yes, he smoked, yes, he drank some, not a lot, no, not today, no, no drugs. Then they gave me funny looks and said they could tell the answers were all yes, so I told the truth. They just nodded their heads, like this was normal.
We arrived at the hospital, and they whisked Kevin away into the Emergency Room. I didn’t have to wait long before they came to tell me that he had suffered a heart attack, and they were admitting him. He was sleeping and they told me to go home, they would call me if there was any change. I went home and drank myself to sleep.
Kevin stayed in the hospital for a few days for monitoring. When I went to visit him, he ordered me to smuggle him a cheeseburger and a smoke. When I refused, he kicked me out of his room. He was very belligerent, but a nurse on his floor told me that he was going to have a hard time adjusting to a strict diet, no cigarettes, and no alcohol, since he was so used to them, and I had to have patience with him.
The day came when he going to be released. He was going to call me to come pick him up when all the paperwork was done. I waited for hours and no phone call. I called his hospital room, and no answer. I called hospital information, and they said he had been discharged hours ago. I waited a few more hours. I was panicked. I was sure he was dead in a gutter somewhere, or wandering around aimlessly, not even knowing who he was. I called the police, but they said they couldn’t help me until he had been missing for twenty-four hours. Finally, eight hours later, he called me. He was four towns over. He had decided to walk home, but got lost, and kept walking. Luckily, he finally found a shopping center, so I went and picked him up there.
Whatever fun and friendship he and I had had, it was strained and all but gone. I had grown to love him, but now I didn’t even know him. He didn’t even slow down on his drinking or smoking. It was just a week later that he suffered another heart-attack. He was admitted to the same hospital. This attack was much less severe, however, and they were going to release him the next day, with strict orders to change his habits, or else. On discharge day, Kevin’s friend and co-worker Roy and I waited for Kevin to call. Again, he didn’t call, so Roy and I drove over to the hospital, and found he had been released hours ago, and left with a friend. Left with a friend? Whom could it be?
We returned to the complex, and I sat by the phone, frantic and worried. Worried about Kevin, about me, about us. Then he called. He was at the bar with the Cocaine dealer whom he had called to pick him up. My worries were not allayed. Once again, I thought that our only way out was to move. As it turned out, Kevin felt that way, too. He gave his resignation, and we planned to move to Reno, Nevada, where his family lived. He said there were plenty of jobs there, and he and I would find some easily.
The plan was that Kevin would leave one month earlier than I with our things loaded in his jeep. We packed up our other things, to be shipped when he found us a place to live. He needed time to think. He called me from the road, and always sounded loving, and upbeat. When he arrived in Reno, he rented a double wide trailer on a fourth acre of land in Sunnyvale. Weeks later, he still didn’t have a job, but he was certain he would have one by the time I got there.
I flew into Reno a month later, and was met by my not so adoring husband. I noticed he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring right away, and he nonchalantly advised me he had lost in a motel on the road. We never took our rings off, and I was pissed, but he played it off, and since we hadn’t had sex in so long, I really believed, quite naively, that he wasn’t interested in it because of all the alcohol, so I wasn’t too worried.
We went back to the double wide, and for a couple of weeks, it wasn’t so bad. It had a nice yard with fruit trees, and I worked hard to landscape it and make it pretty. Kevin wasn’t paying the rent, but I got a job waitressing in a Reno casino the next day, so I was able to pay for everything. Kevin still wasn’t working, so I made a deal with him that he had to take me to work and pick me up. After two weeks, he started disappearing for days at a time. I had to take the bus at four thirty in the morning to get to work by seven. I tried calling him at his brother’s house, but the phone was answered by his sister-in-law who called me a whore, and told me not to call there.
I cried. I cried a lot. I had no idea what was going on. Then, I started noticing a cook at work named Rob. Rob, even with his chef’s hat on, was so extremely handsome that I couldn’t stop staring. The girls I worked with noticed, and so did the head chef. They were always teasing both of us, and working became embarrassingly uncomfortable and exciting. Every day was a challenge for me. Even though Kevin had basically dragged me to this place and dumped me, I was still married, and even though we never had a conventional marriage, it was still important me to try to save it. That was hard when he wasn’t around.
One day, Kevin came into the restaurant to visit. He sat down and ordered lunch. All the waitresses and all the cooks gave him the evil eye. They all knew he had left me, and they all knew that Rob and I had a crush on each other. It was one of those awkward moments in life when your face is flushed for hours, and you can’t speak normally. I was so happy he was there, because even though I still didn’t think he was so handsome, and certainly not as handsome as Rob, he was my husband, and what was happening wasn’t right. He made no comments as to whether he missed me, or would come back. He just ate lunch, said ‘good to see you’ and left. I didn’t hear from him again after that for days.
Everyone in the restaurant and I thought that was the big good-bye, the non-committed’s farewell to commitment. It was just a matter of getting a divorce, and moving on with our lives. My co-workers were pushing me to make the first move with Rob. He seemed so shy. He was walking out of the restaurant at the end of our shift one day, and I was being nudged towards him, and I asked, “Do you want to go get a drink?” He said yes, and we went to the next casino, and got plastered. Then we went back to his house and made love. It was love, at least for me. I really fell in love with this beautiful man. That was where Zach came into the picture, because he was conceived the first time we were together; but I am getting ahead of the story.
I still had the trailer, and I was perfectly content to live there by myself. The rent was $450.00, and I was making much more than that at the casino. Then, a day after Rob and I were together, Kevin came home. He just came home like he had been at work, only he still didn’t have a job. He acted like nothing had happened. He wanted to try again. I felt guilty, and dirty, and so sad, because I really thought I was falling in love with Rob. I had made a commitment to Kevin, though, and if he wanted to try again, then so did I. He was home for a few days, and we really got along. There was no sex, but after our first month’s courtship, there really was never any sex. I thought we could make a go of it.
At work, I did my best to avoid Rob, but it wasn’t easy. He wasn’t pushy, mind you. The man could have had any woman in Reno; he was fabulously handsome. He acted like he didn’t care, and maybe he didn’t, not like I did. However, I saw him five days a week, eight hours a day, and I remembered our sweet loving time together. A few days after Kevin came home, he said he was going camping for the Fourth of July weekend with his friends. He was going to be gone for six days. I was so glad he was leaving. I kept fantasizing about Rob, and couldn’t stop feeling so guilty when Kevin was around.
When Kevin left, I found myself gravitating towards Rob. I knew it was wrong, but I felt justified in so many ways; least of all in the fact that I was in love with him. I was at home in the trailer the first night Kevin was gone, and I didn’t want to be alone. I caught the bus to Reno, went to Rob’s house and surprised him, and spent the weekend with him and his friends, hanging out, watching the fireworks, making love. I was sold. I was gone. I had to be with Rob. However, there was still this married woman trying to force me to honor my vows. I returned home to wait for Kevin. He never came back. I waited for him for a few days, then late one night, I got tired of feeling alone and crazy, and took the bus back to Rob’s. The door was locked, so I broke into a window. I climbed into bed next to Rob, and announced that I was moving in. He just said, “Cool.”
Two months later, Rob and I found out we were pregnant. Actually, I thought I might be, so I went to Planned Parenthood, and they confirmed it. I had to tell Rob, but all his friend’s said he wouldn’t want a baby, and I should just abort it if I wanted to keep him. I didn’t want to abort it. I was thirty-one years old, and had already had two abortions. I wanted to keep this baby, and I wanted Rob to want it, too. Rob and I went out to eat the night I found out, and I ordered milk instead of a beer. He said, “How long have you known?” Of course, ordering milk was a dead giveaway.
Rob seemed conflicted about having a baby. He had already confessed to having two boys that lived with their mother and adopted father. Rob had given up his parental rights, so that his children could have a better life. That was what he said. He really wanted our child; he really wanted a boy. He said if it was a girl, he would put her back in for more cooking. I was madly in love, and even his sexist remarks seemed cute at the time.
I realized that with the baby on the way, I needed to do something about Kevin. I called him, and this time he answered, and came to meet me at the Carrows behind our house. I told Kevin that I wanted a divorce, and he told me that we weren’t really married. This was quite a shock, since the year before we had filed our Federal Tax Return as “Married, filing jointly”. Kevin said that the Reverend, aka his buddy Barry, had never turned in the Marriage Certificate.
I wasn’t sure what the ramifications of that would be, as we were married for over two years. Was it really true that we were never officially husband and wife? Was it really true that Barry forgot to turn it in, or did he forget on purpose, because Kevin never wanted to be married? Or was Kevin trying to avoid a divorce? Before Kevin left, I brought him to the house, and introduced him to Rob. I told him Rob was my roommate. I still felt guilty, especially about the pregnancy.
The following day, at the Washoe County Courthouse Hall of Records, I asked to see my marriage certificate. The clerk said there was no marriage certificate filed. I said then I am not married, which makes it so much easier to move on. “Oh no”, said the clerk, “in Nevada, if you say I do, you did. You need to get a hold of the certificate, file it, then take it and get a divorce.” I replied, “If you can’t prove that I was ever married, I don’t have to get a divorce.” At least I said that to myself. To the clerk, I said, “Thank you very much.”
We moved out of the house we had been staying at, the house Rob had shared with his friends before he met me, and into a motel room, so we could be alone together to work on becoming a family. I worked for a few months, then the baby dropped low, and I couldn’t work anymore. Suddenly, Rob had to pay for our room and support both of us on a cook’s pay. He was struggling, and he was not the kind of guy who liked to struggle. He became distant, and began spending more time with his friends, and less with me. When we would argue about it, he would walk out. He started picking fights with me. One night, he was irritated, and kicked me, literally, out of the bed. I should have left then, but I was obsessed. I used to stare at him, and he would yell at me to stop looking at him.
In November, we had a dreadful fight, and I got a train ticket back to South Orange, and rode pregnant for six days on an Amtrak train in coach. Once I got there, I regretted leaving Rob, and missed him terribly. I called him all the time, and wrote to him almost daily. He told me to come home. I came back to Reno in January, with a little money that my father had given me. We paid Rob’s rent on the motel room he was in, and he told me he forgot how beautiful I was. I was so happy. I showed him the baby clothes I had gotten in New Jersey, and he said he couldn’t wait for his son.
One day, he sat me down, and in his most loving voice, told me that I needed to go back to my father’s to have the baby, that we were too poor to pay for the baby to be born. He needed to get a better job, and get us a nice place to stay. I should go to New Jersey to have the baby, and then return to Reno, where he would be waiting for his family with open arms. I wrote to my father, who again paid for me to return to New Jersey.
I wrote to Rob every day again, but my letters were being returned, “Return to Sender, Address Unknown”. I tried calling his friends to find him, but they said they didn’t know his address; and when they saw him, they would tell him to call me. He never did. He never wrote, he never called. My sister told me to move on, he had obviously dumped me, but I knew that couldn’t be true. He had promised to make a home for the baby and me. He would call or write; he was just busy.
I was seven months pregnant, and needed to go to Lamaze. Even if Rob was around, he was definitely not the type that would have participated in the classes with me. He wasn’t around though, and I asked my sister Karen to be my coach. She was a caring and informed coach. We passed our class, and prepared for the babies arrival. As the days ticked by, I still obsessed over Rob, but I also nested. I cleaned and cooked and cooked. I gained sixty-one pounds, and when I bent down, I had to call for someone to come pick me up.
I had calculated the conception date to the first time Rob and I were together, which meant that the baby would be born in the beginning of April. I kept telling the doctor this, but when the beginning of April passed, the doctor told me that I was wrong, everything was on schedule. I knew that it wasn’t. I knew that baby was late. On April 14th, 1992, I went for my scheduled obstetrician visit, and the doctor took my blood pressure. He looked at me and said, “you have to be admitted to the hospital immediately.” This was not good!
I told the doctor I would have to go home and come back, since I had my father’s car. He said “No, you have to go to the hospital right now. Someone can pick your car up there.” I called Karen at work, and she said when she was done, she would come see me and get the car. I was admitted and brought to my room, and yuck, given an enema. It was supposed to naturally induce childbirth. I was hooked up to a heart monitor, and somehow between trying to have a baby and getting up and down all night with the monitor attached, I was also trying to sleep, which did not happen.
The next day the doctor realized that the baby did not want to come out and induced labor. Karen had come back early to see me, and began her job as my coach. It wasn’t an easy job, and pretty soon she realized that with a stubborn sister like me, the only person who would benefit from the breathing was herself. However, she didn’t give up; she kept trying to keep me calm and coach my breathing. When the back labor became too much, I begged for an epidural, but they said it was too late, and they would only give me a Penthrox Whistle, which is an analgesic used to alleviate stress and anxiety, but didn’t do much more than get me high. It got Karen and the nurse high also, since I was using it wrong, and blowing it in their faces. I couldn’t think and was in so much pain. At one point, I tried to get up and leave. The nurse asked me where I thought I was going, and I answered, “I changed my mind, I don’t want to do this.” She said, “Honey, it’s too late to change your mind now!”
After eight hours of torture, during which they had to break my water, the nurses noticed that the baby and I were in distress, and the doctor called for an emergency Cesarean Section. They rushed me away from Karen and into an operating room. The doctor was screaming at the anesthesiologist to “get her under, NOW!” to which the anesthesiologist replied, “I’m trying!” I looked up at the anesthesiologist and whispered, “Please don’t kill me.” I am not proud of that moment. Not because I was scared of death, but because I was thinking about myself and didn’t mention the baby. In my defense, I was high and in pain and confused. I still regret those words, though.
Get me under the anesthesiologist did, and within fifteen minutes of making the decision to operate, the baby was born. I was knocked out cold, and when I came to, they were performing the Apgar tests on the baby. Karen was with me. They asked her if she wanted to go see and hold the baby. I looked at her and said, “Make sure he has all his fingers and toes.” I was worried because of all the things I had done to abuse my body and his in the first few months of pregnancy, not to mention smoking cigarettes for the first seventh months. I didn’t have to worry though, because the baby was perfect.
That is the story of how my sister Karen came to be my son’s father. I wrote this convoluted story out as a tribute to Karen for Father’s Day. If I had never met Kevin, I would never have moved to Reno, and never have met Rob. If I never met Rob, I never would have had my wonderful son Zachary, and wouldn’t be here writing to you about what a great father my sister is.
The End…for now….NEXT TIME: Trying to find Rob.