I got married for the first time the day before Halloween. Our reception was a huge costume bash. For the actual wedding itself, I’d worn an antique ivory silk gown and a huge black hat—a rather extraordinary peach basket hat, trimmed with streamers and silk flowers.
For the reception, though, I went to a thrift store and found the tackiest bride dress I could, and hideous pink slippers; and I set my hair in spongy pink curlers, and strapped a big pillow to my belly. Shotgun bride!
The photos from that wedding and that reception are now languishing somewhere in my first husband’s garage.
Unless MaryAnne threw them away.
These days I live in the forest where trick-or-treaters do not venture.
And yesterday, I did not go into town. Not that that would have made a big difference: Hyde Park is not exactly a place where people fly the freak flag.
So didn’t catch much Halloween spirit yesterday.
Didn’t miss it at all.
I wonder why not?
Maybe I'm not the person I used to be anymore.
I’m working on an Art Installation for Robin. One of the pieces in it is going to be a sun with the six-year-old Robin’s face beaming from it.
So, I had to find a photograph of the six-year-old Robin to sketch from.
Which meant I had to spend several hours yesterday poring over a bunch of photographs from 1999.
The photo above is one of my favorites of me and Max. He was 12; we were still buddies.
We stopped being buddies when he hit puberty.
And started being buddies again when he hit 25 or so.
Here’s a picture of Max and his stepbrother Beau.
I used to take care of Beau a lot when he was a little kid (a) because I liked him but (b) because the logic of having a brother in one house and not a brother in the other house struck me as something the five/six/seven-year old Max would have a lot of trouble with.
Then the H____ moved to Orange County, and I didn’t see Beau again for years and years and years.
When I finally saw him again, he was broken.
Two things I remember about Beau in Berkeley:
I have absolutely no mechanical aptitude whatsoever. I mean, none!
And one day, I was trying to pull the back seat of my car up.
I had taken it down to carry something-or-other that wouldn’t fit into the trunk.
But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get the seat back up. After struggling with it for 20 minutes, I resigned myself: Henceforth, your car will be a two-seater!
Then Beau came out into the backyard. He took one look at what I was doing, frowned, and touched two latches.
Instantly the back seat sprang back into the right position.
Beau was seven at the time.
The other things I remember was how mean Bill was to Beau.
I can’t remember whether there was physical abuse. But there was certainly verbal abuse.
It was so relentless that one day I called Bill on it.
(You can imagine how bad things must have been for the X-Wife to rally on the stepson’s behalf.)
“Lay off that kid!” I yelled at Bill. “He’s a good kid! Can’t you see how he cringes every time you get near him?”
“You don’t understand,” Bill said. “It’s biology. He’s not my son. He’s MaryAnne’s son with another man, and that means my instinctive response is a hostile one. It’s only natural.”
“You’re out of your fucking mind!” I said. “He’s a seven-year-old kid. He needs love!”
These days Beau is not in touch with the H____ at all.
He had quite the series of sad things happen to him after the family relocated to Orange County.
Things that wound people on a pretty deep level.
After those things were all over, there was a period of time when things were ostensibly good. He and Bill both love the outdoors. Used to go on camping trips together.
He was around for Thanksgiving last year. We watched Get Out together.
Since then, though, radio silence.
There are dire insinuations from the H____: drug abuse.
(Given the H____' marijuana intake, that one's pretty funny!)
I have no idea.
In big families, there’s often one kid who gets dumped on. Who gets scapegoated. Who can do nothing right.
When that kid disappears, that family always blames the kid. There must be something wrong with the kid.
Beau was that kid for the H____.
Here’s a page from a book I made for Robin to help him get over his pre-kindergarten anxiety called… (wait for it!)… Mr. Kitty Goes to Kindergarten:
And here’s the Christmas card I made that year:
Here’s the only extant photo of me as a nurse! 1992 was actually the last year I was a nurse, so I’m not entirely sure how this photo found its way into the 1999 photo batch:
Here’s a Walking-and-Talking photo of my two X-husbands together. I was enough of a hippie back then to believe that we could all be one big happy extended family:
Here is my Robin with Bill and MaryAnne's Madeleine and Isabella:
Isabella grew up to be a great beauty:
Gifted artist, and a generally nice young woman as well.
Madeline smokes pot from the moment she wakes up in the morning till the time she hits the sack at 3am. With full parental approval from what I understand—Bill hasn’t drawn a sober breath since he retired. Madeleine is perfectly functional. The only reason I roll my eyes at Madeleine’s behavior is because MaryAnne had Beau institutionalized when he was a teen for smoking pot. At a notoriously horrifying rehab center.
Scrolling through these photos didn’t make me particularly melancholy. It just made me think, Huh! While it was happening, you thought it would last forever.
But it didn’t last forever.
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