I went out just before midnight to smoke a black and mild and was mildly annoyed at the street lamp polluting the sky. Then it went out and the stars lit up. I’ve never understood why streetlights do that. I’d walk at night with The Crush in college and talk about philosophy and the light would go out.
“Why’d it do that?” he’d tease.
“I don’t know.”
Aliens? Surveillance? I thought it was very kind of the NSA or FBI to turn these lights off for me so I could see the stars.
There’s Scorpius and Sagittarius and Libra. Over there’s Jupiter, and there’s Ursa Minor. See that very bright star? That’s Vega. It’s the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. It’s the fifth brightest star in the night sky, and the second brightest star in the Northern celestial hemisphere after Arcturus.
Charley’s in Red River. Earlier we were arguing and I thought “you’re the most handsome guy I’ve known”, but we were still arguing and it made me sad. You married me.Why is a dream come true a nightmare?
Today he said I have a big imagination and I do things- like get this expensive rental- that are so ridiculous to my life because not everyone can live a fabulous life and I need to wake up.
Looking at Drew Barrymore’s Instagram I can’t help but think “that’s me too, I am a beautiful shining creative soul and I can live carefree and joyful too goddammnit”. Dream big unless it puts you in a bottomless pit of uncontrolled debt.
When the streetlight went out the Universe was saying “goodnight, don’t forget to remember how unimportant you are”, and the stars winked.
Thursday morning I have an odd feeling like I have to do something other than what I’ve planned. I’ve planned to take Dakota to her mother-in-law’s house and run with Freyja, but I cancel that and drive to Red River instead. I am fed up. I am going to see exactly what Charley is up to and maybe I will end things for good.
So I drive there and Charley is standing on the side of the road waiting to hitchhike back to Taos with his big pack. He’s drunk. He’s sad and misses me and says he cried all night thinking about me. The day takes a crazy turn. We go to the mountains and hike in the middle of mansions outside of Angel Fire. We have a picnic and carve our initials in an aspen tree. He can’t believe I drove up at the very moment he was standing on the side of the road. He writes a Facebook post about how lucky he is, he loves me for sticking with him through all the dark times and I’m his best friend.
Friday I drive to Santa Fe while Charley goes through DTs at home. My car is in bad shape and needs lots of work. The dealership, with the free mini waters and crap coffee, estimates about $2000.
Saturday morning Charley hitchhikes back to Red River to try and get his lift operator job back. He says it was a stupid mistake and he was stupid drunk. I tell him he will just drink with his new stupid drinking buddies. He tells me to fuck off.
Dakota and I go to the Saturday market and the park and walk around the town square a half dozen times. A palm reader says I’m a “holy woman”. She says “the credentials” are all on my hand. I have a cross in my palm. I look at my palm. Lines everywhere. I see maybe twenty crosses. I am most certainly some kind of a holy woman.
On the Fourth of July I wake early. I have big plans. Grilling. Watching the fireworks from the yard. Family. Fun. Charley is at his brother’s over night cleaning up an old ’76 Buick Regal his dad will help him buy from his brother, and I went to bed early to fight a cold. I call my mom and she tells me about a lady I used to know. This lady was eccentric and funny, a little type A hippie with a zen-like mountain man husband. They had bought a health food store I worked at in high school and later she worked with me as a copy editor for the paper. On her days off her husband would take her horseback riding and boating and for rides in their Porsche. They were like half Los Angeles divas (on her ballerina mom’s side) and half Wyoming outbackers. My mom said a drunk driver speeding on the wrong side of the road at night with no lights hit them head on. Melanie was in the hospital. Her husband was dead.
My resentments mount. All this compassion for addicts but what about the people they effect, in and out of their private lives? The people they abuse and sometimes kill? I have a lying alcoholic for a husband. I also have a DUI from art school when I blacked out a flipped a Jetta on the highway in he middle of San Francisco. I know I hate drunk drivers. This guy was 41, Mexican, illegal immigrant with spare English. I hated him. I hate the shooters sprinkled on every street in this town. I hate the people who do this every day without any care and get away with it. I hope his man rots in jail. Melanie lived but she will never be the same.
Trying to keep all the problems to myself lately, hoping they’ll go away but it’s the Fourth of July and my husband is MIA again for another holiday. Once again I ask him to be here and he’s not and I’m also not surprised anymore. But where is he? I don’t know. What’s he doing? There are too many spiders in this house and, well, his dad sent him money so he’s drinking somewhere of course. What’s next? I want to lock the doors and keep him out forever. Maybe it will hurt for a little while but then I can get my life back and go somewhere exciting.
At midnight, Charley bangs on the door. A friend is in the shadows. “I want to introduce ya…” he slurs.
“I don’t give a shit,” and he says he’s going to detox the next day and I say he’s full of shit and he says I don’t believe in him and I say yeah you’re right I really don’t, and tell him to sleep outside, I don’t need a goddamn stranger here especially when he’s chosen to spend the whole day with him and. It his family.
“You sayin it’s over?”
“Yes.” I still hesitate but I mean it. I hate this. This whole marriage. It’s stupid and bad and I hate it.
I look at all these Instagram and Facebook posts of people with their families- husbands, wives, lovers, parents. Fuck social media. I’ve been sharing pictures of flowers. Again I had expectations and I hate that I bought groceries and toys for them and again I’m alone. And no it wasn’t a bad day. I had Dakota. She played in a kiddy pool I set up with a million toys. She is he happiest baby. I fucking love her so much.
But it felt lonely. Another holiday by myself. Dakota is my true love but, let’s face it, she’s nine months old and not about to have to make a decision about where and with whom she spends her holidays.
All I can tell is I’m through with “I’m sorry”.
It’s hard to be married to an alcoholic but to also see how his friends and family sport a don’t ask-don’t tell policy, and enable him and give him the benefit of the doubt when you’re the one every day effected by his selfish behavior and lies. And the guy you liked in high school is flying for FedEx and the guy you liked in college married a Harvard girl. How much more can I hope my man gets with the program?
I shared my thoughts on an Al-Anon Facebook group because I have somehow been unable to get myself back to a meeting. The responses:
“Oh Gosh! I know EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!!! & my thoughts & Prayers are with you. I have gone through the same thing…”
“I know these feelings so well. Be gentle with yourself and just know that you have options- even when I don’t act on something right away it gives me a lot of comfort to know that I have choices and that even when I decide to do or not do something about a situation that it is okay to change my mind in the future. Lots of love to you <3”
What if he kills himself? What if he dies? What if he never gets better? My heart aches sometimes. Other times I set it aside and read or watch a show and it seems trivial and dumb.
July 5th. Mark this as maybe the end date, when the marriage really ends. Because Charley took off again with the street kids and I had to hunt him down to get my dog in Kit Carson park. And there I flapped my arms and said it was over, “OVER, I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE”, and his eyes were glazed over and he barely responded. I told him not to come back and he said he loved me and I told him to fuck off and it’s been all day and I’m glad he isn’t here.
I also feel a little sad but it will probably be worse later. Dakota helps.
She is my true love.
July 7th: Charley was back a couple days, a detoxing zombie. I hate all the promises: I’m going to ___ and ___ and ____. I just say I will believe it when I see it. I am all cliches like my parents. Fuck.
Friday night and Charley went to Red River for his last paycheck, and he “couldn’t get a ride back” and drinking again with the 20-year-old who was so proud to tell me “I also am an alcoholic”. I am mad at him and also equally happy to indulge in a bottle of wine by myself and my humming fan, and a book about young New York working girls in the 50s. The dogs bark at little noises, but it’s peaceful. The book is good. It makes me nostalgic for my twenties, for commuting in a big city and people watching. It’s an urban meditation, waiting for a train. I miss being lonely and free.
I’m 34. When I was 27 I went to New Jersey and lived with my dad’s friends’s friend. He made me a creative director to an organic Chinese food sold at Whole Foods. I was good at it, working at tastings at the various Whole Foods in New York and Boston. Observing thin little mamas with their bohemian clothes and designer shoes. But I was too opinionated and I wanted to do something more than sell Chinese food, so the boss flew me back to California and my life changed. The day before I left New York, I saw a blurb of graffiti in a public bathroom in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields. I think it said, though a word or two might be off: “I love you New York, I will be back -Claudia” and yes it said Claudia in bold marker, so I figured it was a sign that I was destined to return to New York. I wanted to be a star- whether that meant a real life Sally Albright reporting in Manhattan, an off-Broadway theater freak, or even a Barnes and Noble book clerk, I didn’t know. I would have boldly cut ties and stayed if it hadn’t been for my cat. I had to get back to my cat. So I became a Californian. And now, in New Mexico, married to a drunk with a kid and three dogs and one cat and 34, I still think about it. When will I get back to New York?