There were a variety of horror stories my mother would share about her first few years with my dad, even long before I was a thought he had put his hands on her . His own sister once told my mom to “stay away from Earl, he is crazy and violent” .
No one got it. Hell I don’t even get it and had been grappling with the concept most of my life. mom came from a nice upper middle class home in suburban white america. My grandparents were upstanding hardworking Pennsylvanians who had worked their whole lives and saved to live the picturesque 50s dream. The real American dream, or atleast what everyone tries to mean by it . Values, and morale, love .. stability . And for some odd reason my mother was attracted to this dysfunction, reveled in its custody. My grandfather had come home every night during her childhood, unless working overtime at the mill and never once raised a hand to my sassy 5 ft Italian grandmother . She “had it good” as most would say yet what is it about human nature that we want something other then what we have? That even when given all necessary tools to have normalcy and stability we still are unhappy . In need of excitement, danger , rebellion .
There are countless incidents that haunt me from my childhood, they keep me up at night sick to my stomach, crying for myself , for my mother . Honestly they always had . At around 4 or 5 years of age my mother started confiding in me the various affairs and sick acts my father was up to. She would come to me, flustered at 2am waking me from my sound sleep ordering me to get some clothes on and bring my blankets, that I could sleep in the car. I was very mature even so young and would force myself awake, wanting to know every detail, wanting to be there for her. We would pile into the car Marie fast asleep in her car seat as id beg to know what it was this time , what was going on. “Just go to sleep honey don’t worry about it” my mother would urge me, determination on her face. But after I would prove I was up for good, sitting alert in the passenger seat she would give in and reveal her mission. “He’s been cheating! Seeing some slut on the side, a nasty bitch he probably picked up at some bar. “
At this my stomach would churn, sick with disappointment and worry. As a child you wonder why you are not enough. Why mom was not enough, what would become of our family. But I was mature too, Hayes that this was our lives, knowing we all deserved better. We don’t need him mama is reassure her hoping we were on our way to a hotel, then maybe we’d even get our own place far from him . My mind would wonder off to a place where we were happy me her and Marie and dad could have his life of partying and loose women as he wished. But this was a mere dream.
“I bet he’s out with her now “ she’d say, “I know your father there’s only a few spots he could be” and then it was revealed , where we were going , why mom has woken us and put us in the car at 2am on a school night , we were off to find dad.
Down into the dismal northeastern ghettos of Pennsylvania we would ride, Marie fast asleep oblivious to our crusade. I’m unaware if she remembered these night ventures as she spent most of them dreaming away, dreams that would eventually turn to nightmares as her adolescent mind struggled to repair her instances of trauma. She was the most innocent little angel all wrapped up in her blankets, ignorant to the dangers that would soon befall her .
I swear my mother could spot my fathers bike 3 miles away behind a semi and even be able to tell you the speed he was going at the time. After riding around to dads old familiar spots we would eventually find him. his black Yamaha had a way of twinkling under the gleam from the hazy yellow street lights like that of a candle flame where salt is sprinkled .
When we found him my heart would race, it would beat so loud in my ears, howling and lamenting it’s woes over mother’s blustering . “Stay here,” she’d say “watch Marie and lock the doors, don’t open for anyone but me “, it was usually just some parking lot i vibrating and rumbling , impersonating the sounds escaping the dark prophetic building my father sat in. I remember watching the doors incessantly, refusing to blink, my eyes ached in fatigue and fear, hoping its next deployed would be mama so we can just go home . All I wanted was to be home, but not even my really home . Why couldn’t we just live with nan and pap and if mom wants to continue down this tumultuous path she could be on her merry way . Why did I need to be a apart of this? Marie ? This wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t right! id rather be sleeping in our beds at nan and paps house . I never let anyone see us though, I know mom never specifically said we had to duck or keep from being seen but I knew this was a “rowdy” spot and just didn’t want any confrontation, my anxiety skyrocketed enough. My chest would hurt, feeling as though my heart had been hitting the bone, repeatedly, begging to escape. I remember one night in particular-where she came back crying and soaked in beer. “What happened!” I had exclaimed averting my gaze as she struggled to wipe the excess beer with whatever napkins she had stuffed in the middle console. I didn’t want to but I felt ashamed I could not watch my mother wipe beer from her face over Him. And he stayed in there? I would ask cause usually he’d trail behind her like a child being picked up from daycare, throwing out quick witty comments to his friends as he left.