Saving Charley Pt 2

I’ve been reading a lot of self-help type books. Not the typical inspirational ones, but the new, cool kind that don’t say you can think perfect thoughts and be perfect and everything will be perfect and your mate will be perfect. Like right now, I’m reading Jen Sincero’s “You Are A Badass At Making Money”. Maybe now I can figure out how to be more than a poor, pathetic freelance writer. Jen did it, and she also thinks most rich people are gross.

“I was just as smart, talented, charming, well-groomed. What the hell was my problem?”

Jen later says something like, “find something you’ve been afraid to let go that’s bringing you the fuck down and let it the fuck go”, (I’m paraphrasing). 

And so I immediately thought. Charley. And I thought, I have to let Charley go. I have to start by turning my phone off tomorrow.

Why was I so afraid to let him go? Besides the obvious: he’s my husband, he’s the father of my child, and we haven’t even been married one year yet. 

Here is a man who has choked me. A man who has hit me and called me names and made me feel disappointment and humiliation and fear. His was someone I called my best friend and soul mate and he treated me like a hooker, a loser, a trash can. He had also treated me like a queen, but that wasn’t the consistent truth and that was unacceptable, for me and for my daughter.

When I was about 22 or whenever “Taken”, with Liam Neeson, came out, my dad called and said, “Watch it, I would do the same thing”. So when Charley gave me a black eye, I thought dad would come to my rescue. But he didn’t. And every time I thought something bad I told mom on the phone would send dad in a fury to my doorstep to avenge his daughter, he didn’t come. 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband, but he had let me down, and I wanted my dad to protect me true way Liam protected his daughter in “Taken”, but he told my mom I was disappointing and he didn’t like what my life had become. And that was it. A wall with no phone calls and no letters. And both men let me down. And I thought: I have to be strong on my own. I have to rely on myself for security and for protection and strength. 

So here I am. I published a book, self-published but published. I have the house to myself- a beautiful home- without drama, even if it was because my husband chose to leave. I have the most beautiful, quirky 6.5 month old daughter and there is a vast world of potential. Doors are opening. Possibilities arising. All I have to do is start believing in myself. That doesn’t mean believe I’ll be the next J K Rowling, or even Jen Sincero. But, be fully myself, not Charley’s wife, or counselor, or trash can. Not a disappointing daughter or a shy wallflower. But me- a mom, a writer, an artist, an introverted space cadet with a love for Ethiopian food, museums, exploration and taking risks. 

My dog Freyja is trying to dig a hole in the bed. 

I stayed up writing angry messages to Charley. I would never come get him. He could have tried harder. 

Needless to say the next morning I immediately packed the car- baby, diapers, dogs, Red Bull- and drove to Durango. 

His phone is off. Two hours down, two hours to go.

What if he’s not even there.

What if I can’t find him.

I look for him for four hours. Driving around Durango in circles. 

It’s hot. I am dying. My mantra is: I am dying.

Why God?

Are you there?

I am dying.

Please. Help me. Give me a sign. Anything.

Finally, about to leave, I spot a dog by the river. It looks like Duke. 

Charley is there with two road kids. A skinny white guy and fat Native girl. 

“That’s my dog!”

“That’s not your dog” says the white guy.

“Yes. That’s my fucking dog!”

Duke is licking my face, jumping all over me.

Charley is lying face down. Drunk as fuck. Drunk as fuck. I get a cigarette. Just one. I need this. Fuck.

His face is red. His eyes are red. I’m glad he’s back. I don’t care what anyone thinks; I’m glad he’s in my car. I have hope again. 

We go to Pagosa Springs and he’s detoxing and has the shakes so I get him some drinks and an inn. We stay the night but I can’t sleep. I kick dogs off the bed, stare at the light outside the window, hold Dakota so she doesn’t fall on the floor.

“I spent the whole damn day yesterday trying to find you, why the hell would I do that?”


“Why the fuck would I do that???”

Why did you do it?

I don’t know. Maybe for the good person in him, who hasn’t completely been murdered by the bad yet. 

An hour east of Chama, an hour and a half out of Taos, a giant crack in the road pierces the front left and we get a flat tire. A man in a Jeep stops to help with the spare but the lock screw is too tight and we have to get a ride- with three dogs and a baby and car seat- back to Chama. A family of mechanics helps us out. 

A young handsome man and his uncle drive a half hour out to remove the screw and get the spare on, drive the beetle back and replace the spare with a tire close enough in size to get us to Taos. After three hours we’re on the road, and slowly drive around the enormous crack in the road that’s like a little canyon from an earthquake. 

Back in Taos I’m polishing my schedule. Up with dogs and screaming baby. Make coffee. More grieving over Hillary Clinton’s loss. A hot shower. A very necessary break from everything related to clocks and responsibilities where I pretend I’m a character in a Jane Austen novel and pamper my entire body: charcoal face mask, eau de toilette vanille, lavender, coconut moisturizer and some nameless Thai magic potion I’ve held onto for ten years and smells like a Hindu temple. Then classic ivory, goji berry infused face cream, orgasm blush, double noir mascara and lady danger red lipstick. 

“I feel like nobody wants me here- the landlord, the neighbors-”

“The neighbors don’t even know you.”

“It’s just a feeling.”

He’s detoxing again. I ask him to take out the trash and he says later. I try to take him hiking on the Mesa and it’s a beautiful day but he’s depressed. I stop to pick Sage and he’s in a hurry. I ask him to carry Dakota and he’s too weak. I take him to UNM admissions and he says “tomorrow”. 

But he takes my hands. “You’re my best friend.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It will get better. I will be better.”

I drive Charley to UNM admissions and he walks in with a grimace while I make a fresh sage stick. I picture Charley, the student. Charley, the intellectual, talking to me about Nietzsche and Kant, Derrida and Kierkegaard.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages,” Nietzsche said.

We will be friends again.