The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Death of An Old Friend

     My bread maker died tonight.  In the middle of making dough for a new bout of pumpkin yeast rolls.  My son’s current can’t get enough of item.
     I have had that bread maker since 1994?  Somewhere in that time.  It had to be ’94.
     ’94 was a terrible year for me.  In February, I lost my first child.  In February, while still recovering from that loss, I started to work for SBC as a toll/directory assistance operator.  Someone should have shot me before I took that job.  The job was more destructive than the loss of my child.  I am not joking. 
     Christmas.  ’94. It might have been ’95, but I doubt it.  The ex-husband gave me that bread maker for Christmas.  I nearly caught him and his buddy taking time from a job to go to the walmart in Van Buren, AR.  I was looking for something for him.  He was looking for something for me.  He saw me; I don’t think I saw him.  It would have never occurred to me that he might be there.  I forgot how much ‘free time’ the SBC outside guys (these were splicers) could manifest on any given day.  It is, I think, the last remaining item that I have in my possession, other than my wedding ring set, which he gave me, other than the scars I carry on my psyche and my soul.
     He re-did my entire kitchen for me that Christmas.  I still miss my convection oven.  The bowl cracked and we had to get rid of it.  I have only recently started to wish I still had it, only recently begun to start looking for a replacement.  Not like my toaster convection oven, but the glass kind of convection oven, where it is more a bowl sort of thing with an apparatus lid attachment.  Descriptive, aren’t I?
     I remember one of his girlfriends coming over and confronting me, asking me what he gave me for Christmas that year.  She’d gotten a waterproof radio for in her shower from him.  I got the bread maker, the convection oven, and a whole bunch of other stuff. 
     When he was confronted later on, he claimed that proved where his heart lay.  And for years, maybe that was true, but that’s not the only place his heart—or other body parts, lay.
     I look back on the things that particular (not the first, not the last, not the only one who ever came to me, but the only one who thought he was being honest with her—and from what I’ve heard in the past few months, it’s the same thing all over with her as well, only he is better at covering his tracks now, lest she either kill him in his sleep—or have him put in jail) woman told me, or said in front of me, over the years.  Yes, there was a time where we were friendly with one another.  I honestly wish her well.  I always have, after I got over my –anger with?  hatred of? him.  It wasn’t her fault he was such a cheating schmuck.
     I listened to her side.  He had caused her as much pain as he’d caused me.  You have to listen to your heart, no matter what, even when you love a moron.  Trust me, there have been several in my lifetime.  I understand the need to satisfy your heart, even when your mind is telling you to run.
     I actually have always wanted to thank her for everything she gave me.  She told me once she knew I lied to her about things, just as she lied to me about things.  She was wrong.  I never lied.  If I did, I was repeating lies that I had been told.  Nothing more.  What she gave me, however, was utterly priceless.  That woman set me free in so many ways. 
     If I thought he or she were truly happy, nothing could set me more at ease in life.  I would be so glad for them.  According to rumors, and there are those who just love to fill me in on myopic and odious details at all times, at times when I think I am finally over and past all of that, where I am just happy to have gotten out alive, much less anything else.  I do wish them well.  Really.
     This woman, in her telling of tales and stories, gave me the clue to the ex I had always missed, the one that clued me in to just how long the man had been seeking out the company of other men.  I am not a competitor in the best of times.  I will bow out, sit aside, and simply watch.  I do not fight unless someone forces himself or herself upon me.  There are conditions now where I will attack—but it takes a great deal of provocation—and only in certain arenas.  I will fight no battles for anyone else, except for a certain few.  Of which the human contingent number three and no more.  Other than that, my animals or my home, those I will fight over, for and about, at any given time, if they are threatened.  I do not start the fights, but I have been known to finish them.
     Some days, talking to people from high school is highly entertaining.  I had forgotten my reputation in places.  I had forgotten that I had always had that certain implacable “aluminum foil” core (ripped that off from Stephen King, yes—now name the book and I will be impressed…)  I had forgotten that even in my weakness, I had been able to be strong in the name of others. 
     If I have any uncertainty about love, I will step back and allow the party to prove himself or herself.  I always stepped back where he was concerned.  He took from me the only thing that ever meant anything to me, and I allowed him to keep me as a prisoner for … far too long.
     I have an intense sense of justification to listen to this woman tell stories about certain parks in Ft Smith, AR, and know that these are the parks where the ex had lunch so often when he worked outside.  All the stories he told about his ‘encounters’, where someone tried to hit on him and he repelled them, often forcibly, all suddenly made sense.  There was that click into place as the stories he’d told about her clicked into place as she told me her side of things, and as she heard my side of things. 
     As she continued to talk, I heard the click click click that went back to Fayetteville, AR, where his first wife had left him for a woman that honestly looked more like a man than he did.  No slur on him intended.  She was a nice girl, I guess.  He said she was—he should know—he slept w her too.  Not my type of person, no matter her sexual orientation.   then again, neither was his ex.  I wouldn’t have talked to her if we passed in the street.  She was too…off…in a certain way.  The broken know the broken on sight, whether they admit it or not.  She was broken.  Her girlfriend was even more broken and needy.
     In Fayetteville, why was the ex, who was such a notoriously flagrant homophobe the only man a certain friend from an ultra-conservative Christian family would turn to to discuss his homosexuality…or why said man would detail his encounters with other men with the ex?  Why did the ex give this man his most prized possession when we moved from the house into an apartment…his dog?  Suddenly, it all made sense.  As did the ex talking about a certain former room-mate he had had before he’d met me.
     Why, in Fayetteville, when I worked at a certain laundromat known as, uhm, the best place in town for men seeking men to hang out and congregate was the ex one of the men who got hit on every single time he went in there?  In fact, he was the only man I ever knew that got hit on every single time he went in there.
     I listened again to the stories he’d told me since we’d met.  He didn’t have many stories, in all actuality.  After being with him for a year or two, I’d heard them all, and had started to keep track of how he embellished things differently w each re-telling.  He’d been hiding this secret for a very very long time.  It came to a head when one of his boyfriend’s accosted me in an attempt to lure the ex into a three-way with me included, or a four-way with the boyfriend’s boyfriend.  That was the first real tangible proof I had, other than the ideas and the rumors that had clung to him all along.  All those tales he’d ‘re-created’ to make him a hero and make me think him a big strong hetero man…all crumbled to pieces.
     I have dated bisexuals before—some who openly and freely admitted who and what they were, and others who hid it to save their families, or for whatever reason they had.  It never bothered me.  I have more respect for someone who lives their life openly and truthfully, but that does not diminish anyone in my eyes.  I know how cruel the world can be to those who choose to live their own way.  Whether for sexuality or religion or any other thing.  It’s hard to hide things like that.  It eats away one’s soul, which eats away one’s body…it destroys the mind. 
     If it weren’t for that one woman, I would have mourned my lost years for many more years.  I would have moved on, but I would still miss things that I thought only came with the ex.  Thanks to her, I learned better.  Thanks to her, I can enjoy my current relationship and current circumstances far more than I could without this sense of freedom she gave me. 
     I have said it before; I do not have an issue with the ex’s cheating.  He was a cheater when I met him.  I never expected him to be faithful to me.  I told him that up front.  He and I started dating while he was still married.  He told me the pitiful tale of how he was in the middle of a divorce.  I have proof he was staying over with me in October.  We’d been talking by phone for over a month.  He’d been married that August before I met him.  I didn’t know that for a very long time afterwards.  I learned a lot of things afterwards.  None of it matters now.  My only caveat is if he had told the truth, I would have allowed him anything, I would have forgiven him anything.
     I have a certain code of ethics by which I live.  I know there is no stopping a cheater from cheating.  I have never tried.  I would never try.  I expect loyalty in a relationship.  I expect fealty.  I am saying these things, because without the ex, without his …girlfriend … I would never have solidified my code of conduct, which includes a new clause for certain things that weren’t there before I met him.  Before I met him, I was far more than tolerant.  Boys will be boys.  ‘Sex is like pissing.’ to quote the Diego Rivera line in the movie Frida.  The way I had been brought up said it didn’t matter what happened, as long as we were open and honest about everything within the context of our relationship.  I had held on to that since I was a teen-ager.  The man I dated in high school is what set that bar.  Anne Rice helped, with her Vampire Chronicles.  When Marius told Armand, try a boy, try a girl, try them all—to paraphrase, very badly, I am certain.  But, the point remains…so long as there are consenting adults, be my guest.  If you don’t try, how will you know?  I have never held that particular … exhortation against anyone. 
     I do not believe in fidelity for the most part.  I am faithful to an awful point.  Even when I was married to a serial cheater, the only time, since meeting the man, that I slept w anyone else was after we were legally separated.  I had had opportunities, ones that I really wish I had taken at times.  There is one married man who is probably still married in name only who was such a good friend, I should have cheated with him to give him the surcease for a few minutes he so craved and needed.  I have never once regretted being faithful to the faithless.  If given the choice, I would continue along my same chosen path.  I was the wild girl, but I was also the one person who, when she dated three or four guys at a time, told every single one of them, and usually had them meet one another at some point so they would know each other on sight.  None of the men ever had a problem w each other over me.  Everyone knew up front, where I stood, and where everyone else stood.  We never had any problems.  Honesty and communication were always key.
     Nowadays, I have a man that makes every other person in the whole world pale by comparison.  There is no way I would seek succor outside our relationship.  There is no way I would want to or need to if the possibility ever arose.  There is no way he would or could either.  There is no reason to, we are that well matched.  Where there was doubt with the ex, there is no doubt here with my boyfriend.  Not a hint.  Not a smidgen.  Not a trace. 
     Funny, the ex-husband introduced us.  I cannot think about the ex now without smiling, because if not for his desire to find someone to go out and do ‘couples’ things with, I would never have met the love of my life.  This man is completely re-defining the things I thought I knew so well while with the ex.  He is reminding me of the person I was before I met the ex, the person who was much more open, much more alive.  I was broken then, yes, but I was still so much more alive then.  I was young, a teenager, just starting to get through all the teen angst garbage, starting to find myself and propel myself forward.  I thought I had hold of the best thing in the whole wide world.  Then I allowed that one man to completely destroy my soul in one fell swoop—and I so lost my soul and my will to even survive that I gave him complete control over every little thing.  St Louis was supposed to ‘save’ our marriage, his words.  It saved me, saved my soul, even if it had to break me into smaller pieces before I could be reunited and whole once more.
     I am grateful for that.  To the girlfriend, to the pseudo-priestess, to the little men in between.  I would not have my two kids now if not for the egregious notions and narrow-mindedness of certain people.  As terrible as that sounds.  My children, my family, they are my life.  Not that I cannot or do not steal time away from them to have private time alone with the true love of my life (versus the false god of the ex-husband), but I still have more now than I have ever had before while out on my own.  I am blessed. 
     I cannot say thank you enough.
     This is the eulogy for my poor deceased bread machine.  I am absolutely glad my boyfriend loaned/gave me his bread maker eons ago when mine was still in storage—before mine was thrown violently around in a big moving truck that flipped upside down.  The old bread maker put up an incredible fight.  Only a few of her programming buttons still work.  Tonight her rotator stopped rotating.  She lead an eventful life, she did.  Even put away in storage for so long.
     And, as much as it grieves me to say, my boyfriend’s bread maker will soon follow—but only because it’s a one pound load machine…and my old girl was 1 ½ pounds…and I am notorious for making large quantities of dough that this small one pounder won’t really be able to keep up with, even though it is a very good machine…
     So, as much as it pains me, so long, farewell, adieu my long-time friend.  As I rid myself of your old beaten up countenance, perhaps you can take with you all these memories of the ex and the good times and the bad times and all the rest of the miscellaneous detritus I still have around me because of him.