Friday, March 26, 2010

PS ... The Golden State for good this time ~ chapter 8 in her life

California changed me. I can't explain it. Perhaps it was the solitude I had in a new environment. Perhaps it was getting to know family that I was previously unexposed to. Perhaps it was the spectacular displays of natural beauty that surrounded me every day while I hiked through the mountains. Perhaps it was the growing up I did in a short amount of time. There were many factors, but the truth was that I had changed. My mother could see it. She told me that I was really wearing the years that I had been through in such a short amount of time. She said that she could see the sadness underneath my smile. We talked a lot after the second adoption about how my children would perceive me in the future. We discussed if it would be possible, years down the line, if they could be involved with my life and me in theirs.

We saw my daughter once after she was born for a couple of hours, but we had not seen her since. I asked her if she was sad about not watching them grow. She admitted that she was, but told me that she was more sad for me that I would not be able to see them through the years. I told her that we would see them, through pictures. I told her it wasn't the same as caring for them everyday but we would be able to see them because I was going to do my best to keep in touch with the parents. She responded that she was so proud of what I was able to do. She said that she understood why I would chose to do it and that she was not oblivious that I had been affected by her loneliness and anger after the divorce. She, as she had always done, told me that she was so sorry that she never told me about my father's marriage and children then explained that once she saw the effect it had on me, she felt guilty that I had to endure my depression. And let me explain something that I learned about my depression. There were physcologists that tried to tell me that I had a chemical imbalance and that I was going to be depressed for the rest of my life. Well phooey! My depression was all about living life one way, and at a pinnacle age finding out that I had been deceived and things were drastically different than they seemed. It's called an identity crisis, along with abandonment issues stemmed from a non communicative father. That is a whole other post entirely.....

So I was different and not adjusting to life as a birth mother for a second time very well. I was feeling very low. I was not as confident as I had always been. I was not quite as witty as I was before I left for California. I was slowly slipping back into the familiar cauldron of loneliness that was familiar to me, but had not been around for a while. It was noticeable to only two people: my mom and Bruce. They handled it differently. My mother used humor and wisdom. Bruce used compassion and good fun. My mother would call and leave me funny messages, Bruce would write me little notes. They both were concerned and willing to put everything down to help me at any time. Bruce was going to school full time and was away for most of the week and he was dealing with his loss on his own. But on the weekends we did our best to enjoy each other and talk about what we wanted in life. He could see that I was struggling and would listen for hours about my fears, then tell me his fears and we noticed that they were the same. We talked often about the twins, but it was not the overwhelming theme of our discussions. There were times that we would sit at dinner talking about his schooling and how much he loved to weld. We talked about how I was rapidly moving up the management ladder at the music store and how great it would be to have my own store to run. And there were hours spent venting about how to deal with the feelings we were left with after adoption. We were happy, but best of all we were absolutely honest about our feelings. We did not hide anything from each other which led to a deep appreciation for one other. There really is no better feeling than to fall in love with your best friend.

During the week I would spend most of my time either at work or at home. My mother loved it. She and I were making dinners, playing cards, laughing until the wee morning hours. Just hanging our with her was comforting to me. She knew not to ask about how I was feeling, but she always got me talking in the end. One night I told her that I wanted to go back to live. She said that would be nice. I told her that I was thinking about putting in for a transfer with my company to the store that was near my cousin's house where I had stayed. She again said that would be nice. I did not say anymore. I could see that she did not like the idea of me moving 2,000 miles from her on a permanent basis. In fact, I think she quite detested the idea the way she detested the overabundance of mailing inserts in magazines. She hated those! (she often would collect them and then just drop them into a mailbox with her explanation ... "they are offering free postage to those that send them in for a subscription so why not make them pay for annoying me?". Good point.) She dealt the cards a few more times and then headed to bed, I knew I had hit a nerve.

With the next morning came the questions: "Is Bruce moving with you?"
"I don't know. I told him that I wanted to move and invited him to come with me, but told him I would understand if he did not want to go."
"Where will you live?"
"Not sure. I was going to ask M&J if I could stay with them until I can find an apartment."
"Why do you feel the need to move there?"
"I loved it there. The atmosphere, the scenery, the fact that I can start my own life without judgement from people who know me. I just want to be there, be back where I felt peace."
"Do you think Bruce will want to go? When is he done with school?"
"He is almost done now and has already been offered a job. I think he will go, he loves me. I love him. I don't think that this move will happen this year, or not even next year. But eventually, like within 5 years I want to move to California."
"Oh...well that is feasible. Then we have time to research. And adjust."
Adjust. That was the key word in that sentence. She was relieved to hear that I was extending the timeline for a while. The more time she had to think about it and like she said, adjust, the better the move would be. And that is just what happened.

By 1995 Bruce and I were a strong couple. He had a fantastic job doing what he loved, I had my own store and was doing very well in both sales and developing under management. Even my mother had even advanced in her job at the VA Hospital and was doing wonderfully in her life. I was at work one February day when I received the call. The store that I wanted was available and they needed a store manager in two weeks. I was elated! I immediately took the position and then informed my DM, whom I was on the phone with, that I would be leaving my current store at the end of the week. I needed at least one week to pack, wrap up the loose ends and most importantly, spend time with those that I loved. She was more than happy to get me out of her hair because I had been a little too ambitious in my job and I think I may have inadvertently been putting hers in danger. I also took the rest of the day off because I could not begin to focus on the store, I had to start making lists! I am a forever list person. Even in this day and age I still write everything down from addresses and numbers to calendars, I write it all down. Just helps me to remember things the right way.

Both Bruce and my mother were shocked that I was leaving so quickly. I told them that it was probably best because then I really did not have time to think about it, and neither did they. My move was not going to effect my mother in the same way as it would Bruce. He had to drop his entire life and trust in me that we would be able to make a life in the Golden State. He had to put all of his faith into our relationship because he knew no one, had no job, and was finally feeling at home in St. Louis. He is a man that holds his friends in the same regard as family, and I think leaving his friends was killing him. He made a deal with me. He said that he would set forth on the adventure with me, but he needed more time to wind things up. I asked what kind of time frame. He said at least a couple of months. Sounded good to me, I was just happy that he was willing to move with me. Not many would just entrust their entire lives in the dreams and wishes of someone else. He was the brave one, he was my peace. I loved that he wanted to come with me.

My mother was happy that Bruce was going as well. Over the years after the boys were born she could see that Bruce and I were a perfect match for each other. She could see that we were smart about our relationship and that we were honest with each other which in turn came with a side of immense respect. Not to mention, they liked to gang up on me when I did silly things. They were often relentless when it came to making fun of me, laughing themselves to tears at my expense. It was great to see her with him. They were becoming friends and I loved it. But as happy as she was that he would be joining me, she was not ready for me to leave. She was calm and collected, but I could tell that she was pretty nervous about the whole thing. She trusted me, and knew that I was going to leave no matter what. I was determined just like she was to get out and live life, to take chances. I was like her in so many ways, and she saw that. I left on a Saturday morning and she was there to see me off. There were a lot of tears and smiles in the terminal and to tell you the truth, walking that causeway to the plane was the hardest stroll of my life. I was happy and proud that I worked hard and realized a dream. I was heartbroken to be leaving my family, all my friends, my whole life as I had always known it behind. I sat on the plane as it backed out and once the whole fuselage was parallel to the terminal, I could see her silhouette in the window. She stayed there the whole time my plane slowly pulled into line to take it's turn for take off. I knew she would still be there, I just didn't know that I would be able to see her. I know that her face was streaming with tears, like mine were staring out the circle window. I love take off. It is the best part of the flight for me. But that particular blast down the tarmac left the other Kelsey behind and shot new, fresh life into my body that put one huge smile on my face.

I landed at Burbank Airport and my cousin met me there. He needed to sell his car, and I needed to buy one so he drove it there with his wife following him in their new car. Once the hellos and exchanges were made, they headed off for San Diego and I headed to Ventura County. What a drive. I just could not believe that I had the balls to leave everything and follow my heart to a place that gave me such solitude, such joy, such wonder. I felt so alive on that drive. I had such high hopes, I was young just 24, and I had peace that I was finally doing something that would just make me happy. I was going to stay with my cousins while I waited for Bruce, but I was anxious to stop by the store to pick up my keys and say hello to the new staff. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the place was left in good condition. The storage room was immense, but the floor of the store was small and narrow. No matter, I was in California and meeting my new staff, what a day! I then drove to my new home away from home and was greeted warmly by my cousins whom I lived with while pregnant. It was a wonderful time for me, finally out on my own, spreading my wings and fly, proving myself to be quite self sufficient and ambitious.

I spoke to my mother daily, no surprise there. She was doing well with the separation, but said that she was still a little sad that I was gone. I told her that we were talking plenty enough to make up for the difference in miles which made both of us laugh. She said that Bruce was checking in on her and was glad that he would be with me soon, she knew that we would both feel better together. It would be May that he would join me and it was the perfect amount of time. I got to know my way around, find an apartment that was nice, all the utilities set up, and get into a routine with my new position. I was ready for him to be there, and after what seemed a year...May came. My mother thought that Bruce was driving out by himself so she was making plans with him to pack the Uhaul. He would be there Monday, May 8th. Her birthday was May 7th, the day before. I wanted to surprise her so I flew out the Friday before and waited for her to come home. She almost had a conniption fit! She was surprised first of all to see Bruce outside her door barbecuing, then she walked in the house and saw me sitting there. She was hopping around, crying, laughing, shocked and giddy all at the same time. It was great! I told her that we were going to hang out with her that night, go to an all day party on Saturday for Bruce, then going to come back on Sunday to treat her like the Queen that she was for a day. It was a fantastic weekend that will never be forgotten. Bruce and I got to say goodbye to all of our friends, and then just spending my mother's birthday with her, for her...she was so happy. I think her face hurt from all the smiling. One amazing weekend of love.

Monday morning was off to a good start. We were packed into the worlds worst Uhaul, I mean it was straight out of 1956, tall, wood sides(?!), and so not aerodynamic that I had my doubts about pulling the damn thing behind Bruce's Ford Ranger. I could see gas costing just a little bit more than budgeted for. The good news was that we fit all the furniture in the 10 foot trailer, but the bad news was that we did not think to cover the ends of the bungee chords holding all of the cargo in the bed of the truck with a tarp. (You will find out more in the next posting...we still laugh to this day about it!) We were ready by 9:00 am, just as Bruce had planned. The hugging started, and so did the tears. As I sat in the truck waiting to go, she came up next to me and thanked me for coming home to make it the best birthday surprise she had ever had. I told her that I wouldn't have it any other way and that I would miss her. She then kissed me through the truck window, looked at me and said, "You know that the phone bill is going to be enormous?" I nodded. It was a line from our favorite movie, Terms of Endearment, when Shirley McClain says goodbye to Debra Winger. It was the perfect thing to say because I knew exactly how she was feeling at that moment. She was Aurora Greenway and I was Emma. I told Bruce to go, and just like the movie...he pulled out fast to the end of the driveway, then had to slow down as not to tip the engineering wonder we were pulling behind the truck. I watched for a second time as I left to make a new life. A life that would always include my mother, but would keep me from her loving wonderful ways on a daily basis. We drove all the way to Oklahoma City that night. We stayed in a small motel, terrified that someone was going to steal all of our stuff out of the Uhaul. But it was the first night of the rest of our lives.

Next...the drive which you will want to read because it was so funny and yet creepy!!!!, living in California and how Bruce asked Sande for my hand in marriage...not Phillip the Goose. Let's just name it right now, shall we?
PS ... Bruce Score's Brownie Points With Pretty Sande! ...chapter 9 in her life