Excerpts From a Diary 41
My heart is overflowing. I cannot believe how wonderful I feel. I’m listening to “The End of the Innocence” & for the first time it means something other than Jesse. My whole body is humming – singing – vibrating. My clit is still swelling – is still on fire. My cunt still feels him – Pat – he has a big, fat cock. When I first put my hand on it, I was excited – when I saw it, I was ecstatic. He made me wait before he gave it to me. He ate me forever – kissing my legs & thighs – before slipping his tongue between my labia lips – he ate me forever – I had no idea – or I had forgotten – how wonderful gentleness feels – a firm gentleness – how nice it is to be led down the path slowly & surely – & how strong – how deep – how full the orgasm was – I had no idea how much I was shuddering until he placed his hands on my hips & pressed me into the couch. Then he raised his head & our mouths met – his tasting of cigarettes & cunt – the flavor of sex – then he slipped his cock into me – & we both gasped. We looked into each other’s eyes & we were Goddess & God – & our orgasms were like earthquakes – we held each other tight – as the aftershocks rocked our bodies –
“I always knew you would be wonderful,” he told me. “I always knew you would be receptive. You are so alive – every fiber of your body – electric.”
I should not be writing this – this is very dangerous stuff. But I can’t help it. I want to relive it – to savor it again. I am wet – so wet. & I still can’t believe it’s Pat doing this to me.
“I’ve wanted you for a long time,” he told me.
“& I never noticed – ”
“You were still hung up on Jesse. That was obvious.”
“I cast a spell last month,” I said, “to attract someone – I really needed someone.”
“I know, I know,” he was kissing me, “I was sending power your way & you were just sending out power – I could feel it.”
“Who knows who long this will last/Now we’ve come so far so fast” – Don Henley
Pat’s love flows over me like this song – if he worked out just a little bit, his body would be excellent. Look how little I have to do! I look wonderful. It’s hard to believe that this is the same body I had at Christmas. I look better than I have in years. I feel so good.
I can hardly wait to be with him again.
I have been thinking about Pat all day. It is hard not to talk about him – to bring up his name. I catch myself staring into space & it is Pat’s image that I see. His twinkling eyes & sweet smile. The way he winks at me. The way our fingers touch & the electricity that we feel when we pass joints. The way we discover each other –
What changes a person – what is it that makes a person you’ve known & liked but never thought about much – into someone who occupies all your thoughts – all day & all night – waking & dreaming?
I couldn’t sleep last night. It seemed like I could barely breathe. I have even less of a voice now than before – it’s an effort even to whisper. I could taste blood on the back of my throat & my heart & lungs feel so cold & tight – my first cup of coffee, thick with sugar & half & half, is warming me wonderfully. I am downplaying how bad I feel – I want to go to Falco’s to meet Mark Miles & talk about my poetry book – & I’m afraid Teddy will try to make me stay home if he knows the truth.
The night went by so slowly.
I am still sick. I feel totally miserable & yet am beside myself with happiness. Pat is now teaching me – he gave me a book – Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior – it’s a lot like the Medicine Way. We are always talking – trading our spiritual knowledge & experience. He wants me to read Carlos Castanadas. I gave me a copy of Little Birds – I had two copies – & as soon as Mark Miles can get copies made of my manuscript, I’m giving him a copy. Hopefully, I can get a new cartridge so I can start another book. Also, I’m working on a “Pagan Prayer Book”. I have so many ideas – I am exploding with creativity. I can’t believe I am still sick.
It is becoming a bad dream – Teddy asking questions – making accusations – “Are you in love with Pat?” – I could not deny my feelings – but I denied having an affair. I spent last night buoying up Teddy – oh why does he have to be so weak? Why can’t he say “Fuck you, you’re my woman, you’re not going to want anyone else” & then prove it to me – be the man I want & need – I mean – gee whiz – he’s been with me long enough to know what that is! Instead – he whimpers – he cries – he tells me – “If you have another affair, it’ll kill me, I won’t be able to stand it, I love you so much – ” & I am once again thrown into the role of nurturer – of the strong mother who protects her child. But Teddy isn’t my child! He’s my husband!
Later. Pat & I talked. I told him how Teddy confronted me & what I said. “I couldn’t deny my love for you.”
“There is no denying it. Yeah, we can stop making love but our love is not going to go away. Pretty soon I’m not going to be able to live without you & you’re not going to be able to live without me & Teddy is not going to be able to ignore it.” He laughed. “What we have to do is get a decoy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if I had a girlfriend, or appeared to have a girlfriend, it would prove to Teddy that I had no interest in you & that would let you off the hook & ease up on the drama with him,” he reasoned.
“That sounds like way more drama to me,” I answered. “That sounds like something out of a soap opera.” & we laughed.
He kissed me. “Drama or not, whatever happens, I’m here for you. You can depend on me. You can call me, call on me, whenever you need me, I’m here.”
Of course – Jesse said the same thing.
Loving Pat makes me love Teddy more. I feel so tender & I hate the thought of hurting him. I want to hold onto this phase – living here with Teddy – with our cats – I need time. Only time will tell. I wish I could find another mother for Teddy – another woman who will take care of him – someone who doesn’t need sex, obviously! I’m just afraid that he will really go off the deep end if I’m not around. I’m can’t help worrying about him.
The one good thing is that I’ve stopped drinking. All I’m doing is smoking weed & doing coke if there’s any around. & pills for pain. But no alcohol – not even beers at Falco’s in the afternoon’s – which I really miss – but no alcohol at all. That’s because of Pat & all our talk about sobriety & living a better life. & I feel better. I really do! I’m losing weight & working out & I feel like my whole life is getting better.
Pat was supposed to be over to take Teddy to work & to get money for the bag – which is almost gone – but he’s probably at home, sleeping. He went out last night – how I wish I had been with him! I couldn’t stop thinking about him & our love – how wonderful sex is – & how better it keeps on getting. He was here earlier in the evening & then went out with Kyle – they were going to Brunner’s & I am sure that they went to Falco’s after Brunner’s & closed the place. Kyle has the really good weed that we want & he always has piles of coke. So I know Pat was up all night, partying. Not drinking of course – but snorting coke & smoking weed.
Tonight he’s going out with Amy – they’re seeing a movie. I’m so jealous. I can’t believe it. I feel a little silly, actually. I mean – jealousy is so childish – so not who I am. But I won’t be able to stop thinking about after the show – him taking her home & fucking her – although we made love all morning long – he got hard twice – but I’m so jealous – I hate it! I hate it! I know I sleep with Teddy every night but it’s not like it’s sexual – far from it. I want him – I want him so badly – it’s gonna seem years until Monday morning.
When Pat said that we needed a decoy, I thought he was joking – I didn’t think he was actually going to get one! I have to wonder – did he already have her in mind?
He says he loves me but how can he go out with another girl when he loves me? I know that I had an affair with Jesse for years but that was different – Jesse was already married. & Jesse has always made it plain that if he hadn’t already been married to Doreen, he would be with me. Pat isn’t married – he’s never been married – at least, I don’t think so. So why he is seeing another girl? Does he really love me or is he just saying that?
Night. I just finished rearranging my books. It took me three days. I don’t know why I started on this fool chore – I mean, I was tired of the way they were – but once I got started, I wished I had left them where they were. 1700 or so books taken off the shelves & rearranged is no small chore. Yesterday I was in the foulest mood – except when Pat was here – tired, achy, dirty – wading through piles of books – both upright & knocked over – but it’s all over now – everything’s in place & looking nice.
But last night – standing in the middle of the giant mess – looking around at the chaos – I had to think – “Why did I do this?” – I think it’s a reaction to the messiness & chaos of my own life – the business with Pat & Teddy’s reaction to it – I can’t clean up my life as well as I can my books. Or is taking all my books & rearranging them what I would like to do with my life?
Just about to take a shower. My heart feels so heavy – I am so sad – so slow – I cannot find words to describe my feelings – I sit here, the pen on the paper – words flying by my brains like pieces of paper & old plastic bags flying by in the wind – a typical March day – warm, wet, overcast in that nondescript grey-white cloud cover that is the entire sky – no discernible sun – & I think about Pat’s face – overcome with joy as he makes love to me – smiling down at me like the benevolent suns I have been drawing since I was 16 – but there is no sun today – nothing.
I am so depressed I can’t stand it.
The day is grey but warm. I’m dying to get out of the house. I’m feeling better & better although I still cough a lot. I have lots of studying to do which is what I plan to do today. If only I could concentrate better. Sometimes I find myself reading the same page over & over again. Taking notes help. Later on, I’m going to Pat’s to invite him over to dinner – leftover chili. But I don’t know when to go over there – he could be still sleeping with Amy – they could be spending the entire day together. I have never experienced this kind of jealousy before. Why did he have to go out with her? Was that really necessary? I feel crippled with jealousy – where is the confident, self-assured Cori, who’s in control of her relationships & sees things as they are? It’s like he sucked all the macho out of me & left only woman – soft edges & all – waiting by the phone – waiting, waiting. Insecure & trembling. Wondering if he’s true – if he means the words he says in the middle of love. Knowing that the flip side of a salesman is a con artist.
The old pain exchanged for a new one. But I’m hooked. I need my fix – oh Pat – give it to me!
Might as well jump into the shower. I really miss that huge bathtub back on Minnesota Ave.
I am already going nuts with Teddy home sick. He is as grouchy as a bear. I suppose I was grouchy too – these past few weeks – but I was alone most of the time – I wasn’t bitching at anyone but myself – I do struggle with myself – I struggle to stay gentle – I struggle not to snap at him – even though he tries my patience! Sick or not, I am not going to stay here & wait on him all day. I have books due at the library – I’m gonna walk there later & get some new ones – find something nice for Teddy to read – mail some letters – breathe in the cool spring air.
Reading my diaries. Searching for answers – for clues. Starting at the beginning – in 1978, when I first get to college – how I ramble on – what a fucking alcoholic. But it reads real good – a lot better than I thought it would – that whole business with Jon – it took me such a long time to get over him – it affected every relationship I had after that – up to & including Teddy – talking about the “sun imagery” – Brady Devine & then Jon & now Pat – these guys with red-gold or blonde hair & big blue eyes – what is it about the sun that attracts me? As opposed to the moon or any other celestial being?
Barrett was dark like the moon. How strange – I hardly think of Barrett at all anymore. But I was crazy in love with him at one time. Crazy like the moon.
Night. Almost done with Shambhala by Chögyam Trungpa – Pat’s book – he was adamant that I read it. Pat wants me to learn meditation – he talks about Buddhism all the time. He thinks it’s what my life needs – the only thing my life needs. He thinks it’s great that I’ve stopped drinking but says in the grand scheme of things that’s secondary to daily meditation & learning the Dharma.
I had a job interview today at Bell’s Supermarket today – I don’t think I got the job.
Teddy just left for work on the motorcycle. We have been having unseasonably warm weather – in the 70’s – really beautiful but fucked up, too.
Jesse came over this morning & wanted to make love but I said no. He was really surprised. He was standing on the porch & I was just out of the shower – I was expecting Pat. I wasn’t really sure what to say to Jesse – when have I ever said “no” to him? – when Pat drove up in his little Mitsubishi. Pat got out & said, “Hey Jesse, how ya doing?” like it was the most natural thing in the world that Jesse would be there, standing on my front porch. Jesse didn’t miss a beat – “Hey, just stopping by on my way to work to see if Teddy had any good smoke – maybe you do,” he said, giving me a look that told me he knew exactly what was going on. Pat laughed & said, “Well, in fact I do but not on me, give me a call later.” Jesse left.
I feel bad about Jesse but what the fuck – he’s married, he’s always been married, he’ll probably always be married. Pat may be fooling around with Amy but that’s not legally binding & when push comes to shove – I’m the one who’s married. Legally married. To Teddy.
Oh my god, how did I get into this fucking mess.
Pat & I have decided to wait a year before we make any moves. Although he wants me now – wants to sleep with me – wake up with me – have coffee in the morning with me. But he isn’t financially able to share his life with me – or anyone else – he’s barely able to take care of himself. I mean – I know that’s why he’s here almost every evening – it’s to have dinner! He may be in love with me but he’s also hungry. I have to be honest about the whole situation. Pat’s like everyone else – he knows better than to try to pry me away from my lovely home & my beautiful cats & my devoted husband. & Teddy has his flaws but he is devoted. Other than that – we’ve just been going with the flow.
Also – I know he’s still seeing Amy. I haven’t said anything about it because what can I say. I’m married to Teddy. But I’m really hurt. I’m really hurt that in the mornings, he comes over here to make love to me after Teddy goes to work & he’s probably been with her all night. Like he’s some kind of Buddhist sex warrior who can fuck numerous women & keep them all satisfied.
I love him but I have never been so miserable in my life.
Anyway – it’s been kinda an ongoing dialogue with Teddy & me. He’s jealous of Pat – jealous that I’m in love with him – obviously joyously in love – when I’m not totally miserably in love – jealous that Pat & I talk all the time – about spirituality mostly – but also about poetry, music, art, culture, history, anthropology – subjects that Teddy can’t/won’t/doesn’t want to enter into – jealous of the whole thing. But on the other hand – I have been more loving to Teddy – partly because being in love with Pat makes me love everything & everyone more & partly because I want to prove to Teddy that he’s not going to lose me or my love.
“Just don’t make any plans behind my back,” he said.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I said.
Waiting for Pat to return. Waiting – he’s at least 2 hours late. He was only going to take us to Wegman’s – no big deal – but I made myself look really nice – tight jeans, tight hot pink sweater, my “fuck me boots” – that’s what Pat calls them – all nicely made up – jewelry, cologne – boy, do I feel stupid. Teddy’s mad at Pat – for standing us up – for standing me up – Teddy’s so sweet – he knows how I feel – he’s mad at Pat for disappointing me – for not showing up when I made myself pretty – oh, I feel stupid & silly. Teddy is a wonderful husband – I am an undeserving wife –
I am absolutely beside myself. It is pouring rain – Teddy just left on his motorcycle – he’ll come home with fucking pneumonia – but he didn’t want to call Pat or pay him $5 for the ride – I am still pissed about last night. I feel so terrible I can’t believe it. I know it seems like a little thing – but it’s the principle of the thing – I mean, can’t you at least stop by & say, hey, something’s up – I can’t take you, cya tomorrow? Instead of letting us wait. Me, sitting there like a fool. My heart hurts. It hurt last night – I haven’t been in such pain in a long long time – oh he cares about me – he certainly does – & he has quite an endearing way of showing it! I can’t believe my eyes. He’s here.
Later. Pat wanted to know if Teddy needed a ride to work. “He’s gone already,” I said. “Well, can I have a cup of coffee? I’ll roll one,” he offered. “Well – ok,” I said reluctantly. I couldn’t stay mad. I never can. Not when I’m in love.
“I suppose you believed his excuse for not showing up last night,” Teddy said later. But it’s not a question of believing. It really doesn’t matter to me.
Things are more fucked-up than ever. I hardly know where to begin. I’ve got a terrible migraine. & a hangover – & I’m totally beat-up – Teddy hit me! – my sweet Teddy-Bear! I can’t believe it! I’m sitting at Sammy’s Texas Hots – having a coffee & trying to eat some breakfast – waiting for Jesse to arrive. I’ve been sick all night but I walked over here to meet Jesse – apparently he & Teddy talked things over & I’m supposed to talk it over with Jesse or something. I don’t know. Teddy wouldn’t give me any information & I don’t feel like talking to him anymore, anyway. I woke up this morning & decided that it all had to end – one way or another. All of it. I don’t really care how it happens, either. All I know is that I can’t go on like this anymore.
Yesterday started out like any other day – Teddy left for work like he always does – it was another gorgeous day, so he took off on the bike – I figured that Pat would be over like he always is, so I took a leisurely shower & made myself look really pretty – I was feeling really good & had music on & was singing & dancing & I really didn’t notice that it was way past the time when he should have been at my door. But I was in a good mood & I had made a coffee cake so I wrapped up a few pieces & walked over to his place. It’s only four blocks – not far at all – a quick walk – I’ve walked it a hundred times – but never without calling beforehand.
I didn’t think it would matter. Cuz he loves me, right? & he was supposed to be at my house anyway. He probably just overslept. Which was reasonable – right?
The door downstairs was unlocked & I walked right up to Pat’s apartment on the second floor. I knocked on his door but no one answered so I let myself in. I mean – it wasn’t locked, either. I set the coffee cake down on the kitchen counter. I was going to call out his name, but something kept me from doing that.
I was quiet. I was cagey. I was on guard.
I walked through the apartment. I could hear – the sounds – the noises – of love – I didn’t want to hear but I knew Pat’s voice – I knew the sound – the low growl in his throat – when he’s about to cum – & I stood there, outside of his bedroom as he pounded Amy – who was being pretty damn noisy herself – & then I ran – ran, ran, ran, ran –
Of course – I went to Falco’s. I wasn’t even really thinking about where I was going. I mean – I could have gone home. I don’t know why I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to be alone – I guess that’s why I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to be alone with the sounds of their lovemaking in my head. I wanted to be in a bar – with the TV on & the jukebox playing tunes & people talking all around me. I didn’t want to think. & I didn’t want to drink – I was too upset – but I did drink – I was in a fucking bar! & what else could I do? Even with the TV & the jukebox & the other people talking, I still had the sound of Pat’s lovemaking to another woman out of my mind – I needed more than a few shots of Crown Royal & bottles of Labatt’s Blue to drown that out – before I could relax & have a good time. & I did – for a while – oh yeah! I had a really good time! Mark Miles was there & Rolf Johnson & so many others – I was partying my ass off – laughing & singing & dancing – but by then I was so drunk – there wasn’t anything that was making me think of – fucking christ – how fucked over I had been – not just by Pat but by every dude in my life – including Jesse – & I was thinking about this seriously – listening to Billie Holliday on the jukebox – hanging onto my bottle of Blue – I was beginning to nod out & even though I was singing along to the tunes – really – Anthony Falco called me a cab & shoved me into it & made me go home. “Because I love you,” he said. If he had known what I was going home to, he would have thought twice about that. & I know Anthony – I know he would have thought twice – he would have thought three or four times – he would have never put me into that cab at all.
I got home & Teddy was already there. I had no idea it was that late. I was really drunk. & ya know – I had done some lines of coke & some pills – I don’t even remember what. It was that kind of day. You know – your average get kicked in the guts & go out partying & do whatever is put in front of you kind of day. & Teddy was pissed off – I mean, I’ve talking about quitting drinking & not drinking & going without drinking & actually not drinking for several weeks now & here I was, rip roaring drunk. But I had a really good reason – right? – except I couldn’t tell Teddy that reason. Except that I did tell him. Cuz I so drunk I was unable not to tell him – I was so drunk – I had to tell someone. & Teddy – he was my best friend, right? He had always been my best friend, right? Except now he wasn’t my best friend. & I realized that he hadn’t been my best friend in a very long time. He had only been my husband. & really – not a particularly good one.
He told me: I’m a slut – a whore – I’ve got a drinking problem – a sex problem – yeah, me – I’ve got the sex problem! – & I’m the worst wife in the world – me! – can you imagine! – with this immaculately house – my fabulous meals! He went on: Because of me, we have nothing to smoke & no connection & he has no ride to work in the morning & everything sucks because of me. Naturally I argued with him – I was drunk, after all – which is when he went completely nuts – slapping me across the face, which made me fly across the room into the filing cabinet. I remember hitting it really hard & my mouth filling with blood. I slid to the floor. “Serves you right,” said Teddy. I went to the bathroom & cleaned up the cut on my mouth – I thought I had maybe lost a tooth but they were all still there – but my mouth was already swollen & beginning to bruise. I went to bed.
I wasn’t quite asleep – in that floating stage of not-sleep but not-awake – but almost passed out – when I heard something – it sounded like ripping pages – I got up & found Teddy totally destroying Pat’s books – the ones he had loaned me about Buddhism – & a few library books, too. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had been raised to regard books as sacrosanct. You treated books with respect! “I feel better now,” he gloated. “I feel like I’ve struck back at him.” I thought he was a complete idiot. I went back to bed – praying to the Goddess to help Teddy. Praying to the Goddess to help me.
I was sick all night – getting up to throw up numerous times – but by the morning, it was all over. Teddy was up before I was – he had coffee made & he was on the phone. When he got off the phone, he told me to come here to Sammy’s to wait for Jesse. That he’d been talking to him & that they had a plan. I don’t know what that means. He wouldn’t tell me. He’s not talking to me. The coked-up guy who would never shut up is not talking. But whatever. I still feel pretty sick but I’m trying to hang in there. I must look pretty bad, because people look at me & look away. Some people have walked into the diner & then walked right back out.
In Cleveland. Hard to believe I’m here. Everything happened so fast & while I don’t really believe in what I’m doing, it’ll help me buy some time until I do know what I’m doing.
That doesn’t make any sense. But nothing makes any sense anymore. Quite honestly, I don’t think anything has made any sense in a very long time but I was so determined to hold onto the patterns of everyday life that I didn’t see the unmanageability of my own life.
To continue the story I was telling yesterday – I was sitting in Sammy’s Texas Hot’s, trying to eat two eggs over easy with home-fries and a piece of ham with a cup of coffee with two creams and sugars & a tall Pepsi with lots of ice. I was sick to my stomach & wanted nothing more than to go throw up but I was determined to eat my breakfast because I knew that I needed the sustenance. But it wasn’t easy.
Jesse walked in. For a moment, it was like it was 1983 again & I was flooded with feelings of love – like the first time I ever made love to him & I knew that I was his woman. & I was confused – why did I go out & get wasted – because of Pat & Amy – if it was really Jesse that I loved? Why should I care if Pat was making love to another woman? What was the matter with me?
Jesse slid into the seat in across from me in my booth & gestured to the waitress. “Coffee and a doughnut,” he ordered and lit a cigarette. After he received his breakfast, he said, “Teddy thinks you’ve got a drinking problem & you need help. & you also have a sex addiction.”
I burst out laughing. “Yeah, right! That from the dude who only wants it once a year!”
“His attitude is that if you really love one another, sex shouldn’t matter.”
“That’s a very convenient attitude,” I snapped. “I don’t think you would put up with that shit.”
“No,” he admitted. “But we’re not talking about me.”
I tried to eat some potatoes. “So – what does Teddy think I should do?”
“He’s pissed off. Right now he just wants you out of the house. I think he’s gonna change his mind & miss you once you’re gone. I think you need a time-out – ” he chuckled – “& you could definitely benefit from some rehab.”
“Oh – ok. So I do have a drinking problem.”
“Well, according to Teddy, you haven’t been drinking these last few weeks – maybe a whole month? – which is great – you’ve been staying out of the bars & you haven’t been drinking at home – you’ve been making an effort. So on some level, you must think that you, do, indeed have a problem. & c’mon, Cori – ” he lit another cigarette – “you’ve always been a hearty partier. You can drink almost anyone under the table & you do drugs with the best of ’em. So don’t act like this is all Teddy’s idea, because you have been talking to Pat about this for a long time – that’s his hook – that’s how he gets all you babes – I’m not trying to hurt you, Cori, honestly – ” he took my hands in his – “he talks sobriety – but I would never call him sober.”
“Well, he doesn’t drink,” I argued.
“Well, that’s good,” Jesse agreed, “but I’ve partied with him plenty of times & he’s a major coke head if I’ve ever seen one. & I’ve seen plenty of ’em! & he’s a hustler & a con.”
“You’re jealous,” I accused.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said. “You’re just pushing that food around the plate.” He threw a twenty on the table & steered me out of the diner & around the corner to the side street, where his van was parked. Once inside, he lit up a fat doobie & we smoked.
“Yeah, I’ve been jealous,” he admitted. “What the fuck – that day I came over & you said no & then he drives up – that blew me away. I know you’ve had other men here & there – ” I started to protest but he waved me away. “Get real, Cori, it’s who you are. It’s how men react to you. You can’t help it. But this was different – I saw him go after you like you were a project. I could have told you it was a con, but you never would have believed me – & maybe I hoped that it wasn’t a con – that it was the real deal & he was going to be the right guy for you.”
I was quiet, smoking the joint. It was making me feel better – settling my stomach – calming my nerves. “So – what do you & Teddy think I should do?”
“I called my father before I came here & he & your mom think you should go there for a little while – I think once they see your face, they’ll want you to divorce Teddy immediately, but that’s your choice – but they’ll want you to go to rehab & get sober & do all the stuff you were talking about anyway. & regardless if you stay sober – that doesn’t really matter – just do it for now – you could use the break from all the chaos & when you go to make a decision about the rest of your life – to stay married to Teddy or not – at least you won’t be making that decision when you’re all fucked up on booze or coke or even weed.” He started the van. “So right now – fasten your seat-belt – we’re going to your house & you’re going to pack a suitcase – just a few things that you need – & I’m going to drive you to Cleveland.”
“You’re driving me to Cleveland? Right now?”
“Yeah. When we get to your house, just go in & get what you need & don’t say anything to Teddy – don’t prolong this. Just in & out & we’re on the road. OK?
But Teddy wasn’t there anyway. I don’t know where he was, but I didn’t care anyway. I didn’t bother leaving a note for him since I figured he knew where I was going. I packed the small suitcase with my favorite clothes & a backpack with my current notebook & some favorite books. My toothbrush, my razor & that was it. Kissed the kitties good bye & I was gone.
I fell asleep on the way to Cleveland. I was exhausted. Jesse saw me nodding out & he said, “Go in the back – there’s a bunch of blankets back there – you’ll be more comfortable.” I curled up on a bunch of old quilts that smelled like campfire & kerosine & went right out. I was aware of the radio but that was it. I woke up when I felt the van slowing down & stopping. I sat up. “I need gas,” Jesse said & got out of the van. I got into the passenger seat & looked at myself in the rearview mirror. I was a real sight! My mouth was all swollen & bruised & I had a big bruise on my right cheek as well. But I was feeling better. My migraine was gone & I wasn’t feeling sick anymore.
Jesse got back into the van. “Hungry?”
“Starving,” I answered. He drove across the street to a McDonald’s & went through the drive-through. I ordered a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, a large fry, & a Coke. Jesse got a Big Mac, fries & a coffee. Back on the road, we ate & then he fired up another doobie. “This will probably be the last one you’ll smoke in a long time,” he said.
We smoked in silence, listening to the radio. “Every Breath You Take” by the Police came on. For the second time in the day, I flashed back to 1983 – when it was our song – when I would play it on the jukebox at The Canteen & Jesse would sit there, at one of those little round tables in the back, drinking a Jack & Coke – & even though there were other men in the club – even if the club was packed – the way he looked at me & the way I felt about him, it was like he was the only man in the club. He was the only man – for a long, long time.
I started to cry, hearing the song.
& it occurred to me that I was repeating the past – going back to Cleveland after crashing & burning in Buffalo.
“C’mon, babe, don’t cry – it’s gonna be alright,” Jesse soothed. I turned to him. I was still crying but I calmed down since the song was ending.
“Is it? Really? How is it going to get better? So I go to rehab somewhere & I get sober. Big fucking deal. So I’m sober & everyone cheers. I have no more career, I have no job, no money, nothing. I have a stupid little AS degree that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – I need to upgrade every single one of my skills. & I don’t want to be a fucking secretary anyway! & I still have to finish my English degree – & what am I going to do after I do that? Be a teacher? Me? Who the fuck is going to hire me? – & my marriage is over – if it ever was a marriage – I do love Teddy but how do you have a marriage without sex? That’s just being roommates! & I’m not interested in that. I want a real fucking marriage. & there’s never going to be anything with you – ”
“Now c’mon, Cori – ”
“What? Am I to go on fooling myself? That you’re going to eventually leave Doreen & live with me & be my old man? & while I wait for this to happen, what am I supposed to do?” I demanded. “I want children, Jesse – that’s one thing I realized when I was seeing Pat. That I want children very badly. I don’t have a career as a stripper anymore & I don’t think I even want that back. & I do want to get sober.” Honestly – until that moment – I really didn’t know that I wanted sobriety. But I knew – in a flash, really – that I wanted it. I really did. “I want to get sober – I want to finish school – I want kids – I want a decent man! A real marriage!”
“Well, I think you’ll achieve all that,” he answered, “especially since you sound like you really want it. But you’ll be back. You always come back. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the sober you.”