Monthly Archives: October 2011
After I stood up to Daddy and walked away from him that Saturday afternoon it would be another year before I’d speak to him again. During that year I continued with my life. As upset as I was about what had happened, I couldn’t focus on it too long or it would stifle me. Meanwhile, I was Jewish so of course I thought about it a lot and asked myself the what ifs but, regardless I had to continue to move forward. I was used to having to do that and sadly, it was going to be my normal until I was ready to totally break free from Daddy. I supposed that was where I had the power but I just couldn’t do it.
It was ironic that I couldn’t find the strength to leave that chaotic side of my life but I did have the strength to continue with college and taking care of myself. I was proud that I never stooped to Daddy’s “Whoa is me so therefor you owe me” philosophy. The only person I felt should have given me something was Daddy. And all I wanted from him was the love and protection of a father. Oh and I wanted back the money he owed me. I’d have to come to terms with the fact he was incapable of giving me what I needed including the money he borrowed from me. However, I’d learn that from many, many hard lessons still to come.
Listen, I have to tell you a lot of good things happened that year I didn’t speak to Daddy. Even though I’d obsess over wanting that father/daughter relationship, I felt free during that time. No guilt trips and no sense of obligation except to myself. You’d have thought I would have had a clue and would have jumped off the Daddy marry go round. But, I was always hoping Daddy would change.
So anyway, that year I finally declared a major in fine art (even to the dismay of others who wondered how in the hell I’d make a living from it). For me though I needed those classes and thank G-d for the professors I had who allowed me to use my class projects as a way to work through the loss of my mom and my own fears about breast cancer. It really was a time I used my art for therapeutic reasons but I wasn’t cognizant that was what I was doing. It allowed me to hammer through a lot of issues even though it would be years down the road before I could let go of my anger. It was a pivotal year for me. And even though those close to me felt I was making a mistake by declaring art as my major, it was what I needed at the time. Also, that year I had three solid jobs which I enjoyed And they gave me some security financially. Added to those my adopted parents were still there for me which gave me emotional security. If I had a problem or was lonely, they were always available. Then, there were the friends I made in my classes. I had felt isolated for so long by Daddy. It was great to have friends again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that socialization.
That year away from Daddy my sister and I started talking again. Even though our conversations were guarded, it was a a good beginning. We had many lost years and the amount of distrust that grew over that time wasn’t going to dissipate overnight.
Those twelve months brought many positive things my way and I was for the most part happy. Of course Daddy had left me a legacy to focus on what I didn’t have (which I did) but I knew deep down my life was rich and most of all, I was incredibly lucky to have my adopted family and the family who allowed me to stay in their garage apartment. I truly grew to love both of those families. So, to take a line from a Frank Sinatra song, ‘It was a very good year.’
The only thing I regretted that year was not having a car. I knew it was best I no longer had Daddy’s car because of the many strings attached, however, it did make it harder for me. Here was the thing. I never minded walking and would walk at the drop of the hat to get anywhere I needed to go. It was just during those times when it was SO hot or too cold or rainy or I was just tired. At those times having a car would have been nice. I also accepted a job in an area of town that made me a little scared. Walking there during the daytime wasn’t so bad but night time really concerned me. Even though I said I wouldn’t take a job with the idea of having Daddy’s car, I did take this one anyway with the hopes I’d have it. I figured I would deal with the problem of not having a car when it came. And so it came.
Listen, it was a job I really wanted. I taught art to neighborhood kids and I loved it. But, I hadn’t thought about what I’d do if and when Daddy took his car back. It was amazing how things worked out. Before going to this job I spent a lot of my time in the college’s art studios doing my work. I always hoped someone would be there when I was, so I could ask them for a ride. I had a rule to never ask someone more than twice for a ride I didn’t want to inconvenience them. Needless to say, I broke my own rule when I asked this woman who was in my painting class for a ride every week. She was in the studio at the same time as I was and even though she was weird, I enjoyed her company. OK, here was the truth. I was very lonely. I hated going home to my apartment and being alone. I craved people. Knowing she would be in the studio, I often went there instead of going home. Honestly, I think I annoyed the shit out of her at first because I went to the studio to socialize. She liked it quiet while she painted. Often, soon after I’d get there, she’d decide to quit painting and go home. You know, I never thought that she was leaving because of me. Instead, I thought her leaving was great timing so maybe she could drop me off at work on her way home.
And so, I would ask her for a ride. She never said no. I tried to offer her gas money but she’d never take it. She always said it was on her way. Sometimes she’d let me buy her lunch or dinner as my way of thanking her. So, I have to tell you this. She drove the biggest damn car I had ever seen. It was a solid steel tank that was some model car from the 1970′s. When she gave me a ride and she drove down one of the city’s narrow roads, I would be SO nervous she was going to hit either the curb or the car next to her. She once noticed that I’d hold the car door while she drove. She thought that was funny. Ha, ha. I was just looking after myself.
I’ll never forget the first time she gave me a ride. We were walking out to the parking lot to go to her car. I’ve got to tell you I think the only reason she stayed late in the college studio was because there was no way in hell she could have gotten into her car when someone parked next to her. Her doors were huge and she needed room to open them. Anyway, when we got into her car I looked around. It reminded me of Momma’s Pontiac with the hand crank window handles and the one long front seat. I did secretly like the reverse gear handle thingy on the steering wheel. That gave me warm fuzzy’s of my childhood when I would stand up in the front seat while Momma was driving.
OK, so there I am sitting in her tank, I mean car when she started the ignition. OMG! I thought we were going to blast off into space with as loud as the engine was and how much the car shook. I know I’ve never had the experience of going into space but her car felt like I would imagine it. It was incredibly ironic that her car was so big and loud and yet she was (I felt) painfully quiet and timid. She appeared to not want to be noticed. And when she spoke, I could never hear her and always had to ask her to speak up. At times I got so frustrated with asking her to speak up, I just kept on talking as if I knew what she had said. Aside from her quiet demeanor and her gargantuan car, you should have seen how she dressed. OY! Not that it has anything to do with my story but what the hell. It’s my story. She’d wear these great, big 1980′s glasses and her clothes seemed to be from that time period too. People, it was already 1995! Which now I realize wasn’t that far from the 80‘s but at the time it felt ancient, OK?
Anyway, once she came to class in a dress and I couldn’t stop staring at her. She walked like a football player when she wore a dress so it was really weird to see her in one. Well, honestly, I’ve never seen a football player in a dress, but I was guessing they’d walk just like her! It was weird she’d wear one because it just didn’t seem natural to her. Because she appeared gay to me I was trying to figure out if she was. Gosh, I thought gay women didn’t wear dresses so her wearing a dress totally threw me. Sorry, I wasn’t well versed at the time on gay culture.
Even though she dressed funny, seemed a little odd, looked like she might be gay and spoke at a whisper, it didn’t matter to me. Listen, I wore the same damn shirt to class and if I got paint on it, I just turned it inside out. So, I wasn’t one to talk about fashion. And the bottom line was I enjoyed her company and quirkiness. We would have long philosophical conversations on an array of topics and we’d comfortably challenge each other’s views. I felt comfortable around her. I had never felt so “at home” with anyone else. The other thing was she was a great painter. Somehow, I sensed she had that skill on the first day of class when I first met her. And that’s why I chose to put my painting station right slap dab next to hers. For one I had high hopes she’d help me with my paintings. OK, so I actually had high hopes she’d just paint my paintings for me but that never happened as the proof was in the pudding of my horrible paintings. I never knew until later that she hated my painting station next to hers. When she’d come to class I’d often be sitting at her painting station. And between you and me I had a little problem borrowing a few of her supplies at times when I ran out. She later expressed how annoyed she was with my boundary issues or there lack of but in spite of it, we still were able to develop a good friendship. As much as I claimed to be intrigued by her what I didn’t want to admit was that in actuality I was falling in love with her. But, that’s for another chapter.
So, back to my frustration with not having a car. There were times I’d feel cooped up and trapped in my apartment. I often wished I could just run out for a scoop of ice cream or to a store just to be around other people. However, I really couldn’t complain. I was incredibly lucky that those times really weren’t too often. It was nice to babysit and have that time away. Also, when my adopted parents were out of town, they’d let me use one of their cars. In exchange I’d check their mail and get their newspaper. There were times I’d stay at their house with their two sons to help them out. I loved those times. I loved their company. One of the times I was staying there the middle son wanted to rent a movie and order a pizza. His younger brother and I thought that sounded good until I saw the movie he picked out. The younger brother was excited to see the movie but I wasn’t as thrilled at all. Now, the older son was about 16 and the younger was 11 or 12. I can’t remember exactly. But anyway, the older brother chose “Silence of the Lambs”. He told us he heard it was a good movie but it didn’t matter to me because I knew it was going to be scary. I’m not sure how I was convinced but I agreed to watch the movie with them. So while we were waiting for the pizza to be delivered, we started watching the movie. It wasn’t long into the movie before I had my hand in front of my face as I kept peaking out in between two fingers to see what was happening. The boys would get frustrated with me because I would yell at the TV telling one of the characters what she needed to do. And if I screamed or jumped, it made the boys jump. Oh, they hated when I did that. I guess you could say I was an active movie watcher.
Holy Moly! By the time the pizza arrived, the thought of eating it made us sick. The combination of eating pizza while watching that movie was a bad idea. The movie was very intense to say the least and I was not a happy camper when it was over. I was scared to death but I was supposed to be the “adult”. OK, people, I was 24 and I was just as scared as the younger son. The younger son wanted everyone to sleep in the same room because we were so scared. I thought he had made a great suggestion but the older son wouldn’t go for it. He even laughed at us. OK, he mostly laughed at me but I wasn’t ashamed to say I was scared shitless. I was thankful the younger son “begged” me to sleep in his room in his other single bed. Listen folks, I was entrusted to assure the safety of the boys. It was my duty to make sure the younger son felt safe.
Once the younger son and I were done with our bedtime routine (which was cut a bit short since we were afraid to be in the bathroom by ourselves for too long) we got into our respective beds in his room. Of course I got the bed right by the door. Anyway, once we settled into our beds we started to hear strange noises. I knew that was going to happen. We tried to ignore them. I kept telling myself that I was the “adult”. I was determined to get a hold of my fears and be brave. I felt like the cowardly lion on the Wizard of Oz trying to convince myself to be brave. Well, I can’t say that worked because the next strange sound I heard, I screamed. And before I finished screaming the younger son had jumped into my bed and pulled the covers over his head. I couldn’t believe h slept that way all night. Sure, it’s funny now but it wasn’t then.
Also, during that same time I was staying there the older son got mad that I got to drive his dad’s car. He kept fussing at me that he had to drive the old station wagon and that wasn’t fair. When I told him it was because his dad’s car was a stick shift which he didn’t know how to drive, he told me it was double unfair. But, he was laughing when he said that last part. But here was the thing about his dad’s car. I remember having to contain my excitement to be able to drive it. For one I enjoyed driving a stick shift. But even better than that he coolest thing was… are you ready for this? The dad had a sun roof! OK, well I thought it was way awesome. I didn’t care how cold it was outside either. I was going to open it. Yeah, well, that lasted maybe 5 minutes because yeah, well, it was too cold. But, can I tell you how cool I thought I was in that car? The funny thing was I drove like an old lady, so I can’t imagine how cool I actually looked. However, I had a great imagination and I felt cool in it. Funny, how we think those things and years later we realize how funny we were.
Alright well, that time period of me not talking to Daddy was over when I received a call from my sister one afternoon. It was around 1995 and she had gotten a call from my dad’s middle brother telling her that their older brother had died. Since no one but me knew how to reach Daddy because he was paranoid for anyone to have his “personal information”, I was the only one who could contact him with the news. After not speaking to him for so long I had no idea how he’d respond to me calling let alone how he’d respond to his brother dying. As I picked up the phone to call him I instinctively reverted into “Daddy Method of Thinking” as if no time had passed. I was rolling the dice as to his mood that day. What would it be?
OMG! I will never forget that day I called him. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was nervous and scared. I didn’t want a fight. I knew at that point life was easier when he wasn’t in it. I hated to admit that but it was so true. There was no drama, heart ache and most of all there were NO G-D DAMN GAMES! I HATED those games where Daddy was the one who held the ever changing rules sheet that could never be confirmed because it was never written down or because it fell into the toilet while he was showering but even so, he had a good excuse why that rule would have changed anyway so there was never a need for that hard copy. Sorry, I just had to get that off of my chest.
So, I go to call Daddy and when he answered his phone, I said, “Hey, Daddy.” That was usually what I said and then I’d usually wait for his response which would tell me his mood. Now remember, if he was in a good mood, the good mood could go away in an instance. I had to walk on eggshells during an entire conversation. And if he was in a bad mood, well, there usually was no hope of having a sane conversation. I was used to having a choice of two responses. One where he’d say, “Hey, sweetie. How are you?” which was always a good start or “Yeah and so it took you this long to call me?” which was never good.
I have got to tell you. I was NOT prepared for the answer I got when Daddy answered the phone that day. He apparently didn’t recognize my voice. I guess it was dumb of me to have thought by calling him Daddy, he’d have had a clue who was on the line. After all, I only knew of him having two kids who would possibly be calling him by that title. But, guess what? Not even saying “Daddy” triggered in his mind who it was. Instead, he said,”Hey, my beautiful Sara.” Then, he starts to say love-ee dovee things to which I immediately responded, “No, Daddy, it’s me!” It was obvious he had confused me with one of his girlfriends who I guess called him Daddy too? Oh, that’s gross! Nor did I want to hear what Daddy was going to say to her, I mean what he was going to say to me thinking I was her. OY! You know what I mean. Just as I said, “Daddy” and was going to tell him it was his daughter, MaLea, he interrupted by saying, “I’m so sorry, I thought you were someone else. I let out a sigh of relief when he finally realized it was me or so I thought because he then proceeded to call me by another woman’s name but this time in the form of a question. What the hell? Now he has two girlfriends who refer to him as “Daddy?” That was double gross. I was so disgusted that I blurted, “Daddy, it’s me. It’s your daughter, MaLea.” I just knew that would clear it all up. After all, I said my name.
Daddy responded by saying, “Sorry, who is this?” Holy crap! Were you kidding me? He named me for G-d sake! How many MaLea’s were out there? And the fact he couldn’t recognize my name or voice! What the hell? I didn’t even want to know what he could have been doing to be so distracted. My dad was a man slut! And I sure as hell had no desire being on the other end of the phone with him thinking I was one of his chickie’s! So, I yelled, “Damnit Daddy, it’s your daughter, Maaaa Leeeeeeeee aaaaah!” I could hear panic in his voice as he was trying to figure out who the hell I was. Then the light bulb finally clicked and he said, “Ohhhh! Well, G-d Damnit, can’t you speak up? You were mumbling I couldn’t understand you. I wasn’t expecting you to call. I was actually expecting someone else to call.” To which I answered, ”Well, that was obvious. I see you are dating a younger crowd now since they call you Daddy too.” Luckily, Daddy didn’t have a clue as to what I meant. Finally, when we established it was me on the phone which took F-O-R-E-V-E-R, I finally was able to tell him the news about his brother. Daddy’s response was cold and distant at first but then he got angry that his middle brother hadn’t called him. When I responded by telling him that no one had his phone number because it basically was unlisted, he hit the roof with anger. I guess you could say I hit a nerve.
OK, people! News flash. Here’s something about Daddy y’all didn’t know but I have a feeling you won’t be surprised. Daddy had a home phone number that was listed but there was a twist. It was listed under our dead mother’s maiden name. But, there’s another catch.. See, because Daddy gave the phone company Momma’s wrong middle initial, it was listed with her common first name, the wrong middle initial and her very common maiden name. There was no way any family member would have been able to have guessed what name Daddy’s number was listed under. And by the way wasn’t that the point? Only I was privy to the way his number was listed and G-d help me if I told anyone. It was TOP, TOP SECRET. And if I had told someone then, the secret code would have been out and Daddy would have to go into hiding immediately. I’m thinking, if the Mossad really, really wanted to find Daddy, I seriously doubt they would have needed the phone book. According to Daddy, they just knew things. So, what the hell? It shouldn’t have mattered anyway. Now, I bet you’re asking why didn’t Daddy just have an unlisted number? Well, that’s a damn good question. And the answer was…..well, his answer was, “I can’t have anyone think I have an unlisted number. That’s not safe.” So, there you have your answer. Listen, I never said it was an answer that would make sense. Come on- it was Daddy. After all of these chapters, I’m thinking you’ve had some experience in “The Daddy’s Method of Thinking.”
It didn’t matter to Daddy that his middle brother couldn’t find his home number. Daddy was mad they didn’t go through the trouble to look up his office number which was listed and under his correct name. Now here’s another thing. First of all, over the years more often than not, Daddy lived in the same space as his office. So, what the hell? He never wanted to be found but holy crap, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. But by 1995 he had basically retired and he had an answering machine at an attorney friend’s office nearly 45 minutes away. His business was listed but he hardly ever checked his machine nor went to his friend’s office. So, there he was yelling at me. What nerve they had not calling him to tell him! How dare they call his daughter to give the news! How dare that daughter relay the news to his other daughter to give to him! Then, he has an excuse to be angry at his brother, mother, daughter, cousins, aunts, uncles….what the hell….I just thought I’d throw the entire family in the pot because it didn’t take Daddy long to have a reason why he was pissed at everyone. And just like Daddy to shoot the messengers.
I clearly remember sitting on the floor of my apartment thinking if I had been dreaming because the entire conversation with Daddy that day was totally crazy. I’m guessing because an entire year had passed since I last spoke to him, I was able to notice the total absurdity of the entire conversation. As Daddy was yelling over the phone as to why it was wrong his brother hadn’t called him and as he began telling stories from 40 years back to justify why “they” did him wrong, I started to occupy myself by ooking out my window. I saw several big crows landing on the tree tops. They seemed to have been saying to each other, “Uh Uh (another way to say no).” It made me laugh as I imagined they were talking to me. In my mind I said to those crows, “Can you believe I have been on this phone for 45 minutes and at least 10 minutes of it was Daddy trying to figure out which girlfriend I was?” The crows timing was impeccable as they responded at just the right time by saying, “Uh, UH.” They made me laugh. One of the crows decided to get a better look and landed on my window sill. I watched him as he seemed to have been watching me. I wondered if that crow could speak if he would have been able to give me a bit of good advice. The crow had a beautiful blue tint to his feathers and his big brown eyes seemed to be that of an old soul. Maybe, it was Momma watching over me. Or maybe it was another relative wanting to offer their support. My daydream was interrupted. Nope, it wasn’t interrupted by Daddy. Aw, hell, he was still telling stories from the 1960’s so he had another 30 years to go before he possibly could have been finished. Would you have believed I was interrupted by the damn crow who by this point was hitting my window with his wings as he seemed to be trying to fly away. I stood up from the floor. I was worried about him. While on the phone and as Daddy had moved into his sob family stories from the 1970’s I walked closer to the window to watch the crow. He turned away from me. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong. Was he wasn’t trying to fly away? Was he hurt? What was he doing if he was alright? Maybe he really did want to tell me something important or profound. And just as I had that thought, it was as if a torpedo hit the window. I screamed, accidentally placed the phone on the receiver and while trying to jump backwards away from the window, I fell smack dab on my ass. At first I sat there shocked. I was certain that bird had busted the window. What did he do? Could he have kicked the window?
I stood up and as I walked towards the window I was relieved to see it was still intact. But, what happened? When I walked closer to the window and got a better look at what the bird had done, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I laughed so hard I found myself back on the floor. Would you believe that Crow projectile pooped all over the window and the torpedo was a actually a nut that hit the window and fell to the ground? Now, what are the chances? Irony? I’m thinking so.
Fill in the blank:
What transcends, materializes and is regained when the crow’s excrement wallops the rectangular pane of glass?
AKA: When the crow’s shit hits the window… _______________________________________. (How does this sound? It’s time to hang the shit up?)
Living on my own in the garage apartment came with mixed feelings for me. I loved living with my adopted family because it was the life I had so desperately wanted. Yet, I was excited to have my own space. I suppose living with my adopted family gave me a taste of what I was missing, so it made it hard for me to leave on an emotional level.
I remember right before my new apartment was ready, I was so nervous about moving. It was as if I was heading out on my own for the first time and I was scared. I loved living with a family and being a part of it. I hated the thought of losing it. Often when I was in “my” room (really the room of their oldest son who was away at college) I’d pretend my adopted parents were my real parents. Just thinking about the security of having those parents made me safe. Hell, I had forgotten what that felt like and realized how important it was for a child. Knowing there was a loved one out there rooting for you and caring for you was important to me and I hated that my own Dad couldn’t provide it to me. Instead, I had a father who expected his children to provide for him and to make him the center of their world. Unfortunately, no matter what we did it was never enough. Also I know for myself the more I gave to him, the more he expected. It was an exhausting never ending cycle. My sister was just able to jump ship a bit quicker than me fortunately.
I can’t even begin to tell you how I hated wasting my time thinking about what I was missing. It would only make me mourn my losses over and over again. When would I be able to just mourn it and move on? It stifled me. My brain had so much control over me. I couldn’t stop it from thinking about the very things I wanted behind me. There was something else I hated. Common for me to live my life flipping between the world I created in my head and the one that actually existed, it was difficult for me to delineate between the two. And yet to be honest I really wasn’t so sure my world of reality was so real either. Until I left Daddy I wasn’t able to see that my mentality was the same as his. Or should I say he beat a way of thinking into me that I have spent a lifetime trying to get rid of it. And not knowing what was good or bad because everything Daddy taught us was falsified and embellished, I had no way of knowing what behavior or thoughts to throw out. I will never know if he intensionally lied about every G-d damn thing or if he actually believed what he said, but regardless what a bastard he was to pass it to his children. Looking back and speaking to my sister he really told some doozies that I found very hard to believe he didn’t know what he was saying. Sadly though, it would take me years to see that truth and even many more years to undo that way of thinking. He left me a legacy of always having to rethink situations and events. Interpreting situations like him meant to do so in a crazy, convoluted way. I called it, “The Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I have many examples of the “Daddy’s Method of thinking” throughout my chapters. You know, his interpretations of an event really were fucked up and just not with in this world. And if the situation didn’t turn out as he wanted or with him as the main focus, the it meant nobody loved him. Because, don’t you know if we loved him, we would have done as he wanted? OY!
So,OK, here’s just another situation of “Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I had been living in my new apartment for a couple of years when Daddy called to tell me he was going to let me borrow one of his cars. He had gotten a Lincoln and had his old Ford LTD he wanted me to use. He told me he couldn’t drive both cars, so I could use his Ford LTD. Well, of course I was suspicious because well, you know, I never knew what strings were attached to the deal. As I’ve said, he just didn’t do something without getting a return from it. However, he did intimate he had a new girlfriend who had encouraged him to do something nice for me. That same one laughed when she saw Daddy had two cars, so maybe that was how the idea of giving me one of them came about.
When Daddy offered the car to me I told him I had no money for the insurance nor could I afford to pay for any repairs on the car. I told him I didn’t want to seem ungrateful but I had to think about worse case scenarios and if I could afford them. I suppose that day he offered the car to me he was a good and generous mood because he agreed he’d take care of the insurance and any repairs the car may need in the future. Listen, I had been burned once. I knew there was a very high risk in using his car. But, I looked at it this way. I would not plan taking any job around having a car. I would always make sure the job was accessible by foot or bus. I would view the car as a perk until it went away. And as long as my name wasn’t on the car title or on the insurance, I could walk away from it at anytime.
So, Daddy let me use the car. It was nice to be able to drive to the laundry mat. Oy! Try walking a mile to the laundry mat with bags of dirty clothes. Typically, I couldn’t carry all of it, so I would only take a backpack full. And then their was being able to go to the grocery store. Wow! It was so nice to not have to buy a small amount at a time because that was all I could carry. Then, more than anything there were those times I could work in the school ceramics studio late at night and not have to worry about walking home in the dark. As much as I relished having the car it was always in the back of my mind it would be taken away at any moment. Isn’t that so sad I automatically had to think that way about my own Dad? I hated not trusting him but that was his track record.
Well, when I had Daddy’s car, he’d call me a good bit. Sometimes he’d call to see how I was doing (usually when he had been rejected by a girlfriend and he was lonely) and other times he had a check list of important information he needed to give me. It usually was where this was or that was for me to find if he died. It all depended on his mental state at the time as to the direction of the conversation. Listen people, for a while there Daddy thought the Mossad was after him. Yes, he thought the Israeli secret service was after him. He was certain of it too. He thought his phones were tapped and they were watching him around the clock. Meanwhile, he could never tell me why he thought they were. It was just his gut feeling which according to him was never wrong. Yeah, I know. I think his gut may have been a bissel mashugunah by that point.
Anyway, one Saturday morning he called and asked me if I had a moment to go to his apartment. He said he needed to talk to me. It was always a production with him. And G-d forbid he do it over the phone because the Mossad may over hear him. OK, sorry. I know it’s not funny but really? I think the Mossad had more pressing business like maybe, um, let me think, THE TERRORISTS WANTING TO BLOW UP THE STATE OF ISRAEL, maybe!? Alright, I just had to get that off my chest. So, I told Daddy I could come the next afternoon. He told me it was really important and asked if I could come that day. Because I didn’t have to babysit that evening had made plans to go to a movie with a friend. I figured it would be best to head over to Daddy’s by noon so that it would give me plenty of time for him to talk to me and for mr to go home to get ready for the movie. See, here was the thing. There never was such thing as spending a little time with Daddy. He would absorb a shit load of your time. So, I would have to build in that time to make sure I wasn’t ever late. But, we ain’t talking about adding an extra 30 minutes. No! I’d have to add extra hours!
OK, so right before I left for Daddy’s apartment I received a call from the wife who owned my garage apartment. She wanted to see if their was anyway I could babysit for her that day from 2 that afternoon to 4. Here was the situation. Because of the wonderful living arrangement I had I had promised myself to never turn her down as long as I didn’t have a school obligation or another job obligation. I felt I owed that to the family. Plus, I loved their little girl. So, I told her I would babysit. I was just a little nervous because I hadn’t built in that time. That meant I would have to make my time with Daddy short. Here’s the crazy part. If I got to Daddy’s by noon and needed to leave by 1:30, would you believe he considered that a short amount of time? I knew by accepting the babysitting that day I’d be taking a risk with Daddy. It would solely depend on his mood as to whether he’d hit the roof or be understanding I needed to leave.
It was around 11:30 that Saturday morning that I headed over to Daddy’s place. I knew I would need to tell Daddy as soon as I got there that I’d need to leave no later than 1:30. I figured that was my best bet, so he’d know upfront. And then if he was in a mood I would have time to get home even if I had to walk back home.
The fact that Daddy was well aware of my arrangement he knew when I said I had to babysit, it was my priority and it was imperative I not be late. But, the question of the day was…can I have a drum roll please? The question of the day was, “What would Daddy’s mood be?” Remember, there never was an in-between nor could he ever be upset about something for just a minute. Oh no! He’d spend hours yelling about it. Here was the tricky part. If he was in a good mood at the moment he said hello to you, you had a chance. Now, his mood could go sour in second, so it was crucial to be on your toes the best you could. Even that was a difficult challenge. But, if he was in a bad mood the moment he said hello to you, forget it. You didn’t have a chance in he’ll. Sadly, if I looked at it all statistically, Daddy was in a BAD mood 98% of the time, so I wasn’t faring too well on my chances. But, I kept thinking positively hoping it would all work out in a copacetic manner.
When I arrived I walked up the metal flight of stairs to his apartment and rang his doorbell. He didn’t answer. I waited a few minutes just in case he was in the bathroom but when I didn’t hear him, I rang it again. When he still didn’t answer the door, I waited. Yeah, I know. That was dumb. But, I knew it would have been a no win situation whether I stayed or left. I must have waited a good 30 minutes when he finally opened the door. And of course, I was still there. STUPID ME! I know, I know.
So, want to guess his mood when he answered the door? And the winner goes to the lady in red who answered, “He was pissed!” Good answer! Well, he was pissed because I rang his doorbell too many times. That’s right. Daddy had a rule for that too. However, how many was too many was your guess on any given day. When he motioned for me to come inside and once I did, he angrily told me how rude I was to ring his doorbell so often. He wasn’t a happy camper when I told him that I had only rung it twice. He was furious because he was on the phone with a very important call. And because I was ringing the doorbell I screwed up the call. I thought how that was even possible. What a crazy thing to say! Needless to say, I knew that visit was going to be an interesting visit. Daddy told me to sit down. As I did I went ahead and told him I had to leave no later than 1:30 because I had to babysit. He was so angry that I was “choosing to limit my time with him and forcing him to talk to me with in a certain amount of time I dictating.” He was angry I had not told him I had to babysit when he first called me about coming over. When I told him I had just gotten the call before I left to come to him, he said,”Oh, I get it. That’s how much I mean to you. It’s more important to help a stranger than to help your own father. I get it now.”
First of all, I thought, “Help him how?” I was coming over to talk and I have commitments I have to keep. Daddy knew about my living arrangements so it was no surprise to him that babysitting took precedence. I could see Daddy was getting angrier and angrier. A normal person would have left at that point. However, I knew if I did, he would have taken the car and I would have had to figure out a way home. So, I really was trying to appease him anyway I could so I could leave amicably.
Alright so I may have seen the car as temporary, but I made the grave mistake of not preparing and keeping from being in the very situation I found myself in that Saturday afternoon. I knew If I couldn’t calm him down by the time I needed to leave, I was terrified I would be stranded without having a way back home to babysit. I hated that I had not been one step ahead of him to assure I wouldn’t have been stuck. I just knew I was screwed! I could see it coming.
Daddy started yelling at me. He said if I cared about his well being I would have put him before babysitting. As he continued to go on and on, I began brainstorming on the friends I could call to get a ride home. That was my priority, so I could just leave and not have to sit there any longer. But, as I was thinking of who I could call for a ride I was interrupted when a pillow hit my head. I remember looking straight into Daddy’s eyes and telling him that was not acceptable. I knew it was time for me to leave, so I stood up. I also knew the next thing he’d throw may not be as soft. Daddy was way beyond the point of return and I knew I didn’t need to take anymore. I told him it would be best for me to come back when he had calmed down. Just as I said that he stood up and yelled, “OK, Miss smart ass! Like hell do you tell me to calm down! You may have forgotten but I am your father and you are to show me respect. You don’t EVER tell me to calm down!” By this point his eyes were bulging out from their sockets and the intensity of his anger was too reminiscent of times past. The difference was this time knew I had a choice to leave. And even though it took me maybe a little bit longer to leave than someone else, it still took a lot of strength for me to walk out when I did. As I walked to the door to leave Daddy gave me an ultimatum. He yelled,”If you choose to walk out that door instead of staying here and helping me, then you can just give me my fucking car back. By leaving you are telling me you care more about yourself than your own father. And by leaving you are telling me you don’t love me. The reason you even have a car is because of me! I refused to be taken advantage of and mistreated by you any longer! So, it’s your choice.”
I remember standing there totally taken a back by the craziness of his ultimatum. I even gave a chuckled and said, “Daddy, I cannot believe you are this angry over me going to babysit. I am not choosing one or the other. I have an obligation I must uphold. Having to fill that obligation does not mean I don’t love you. You are talking about apples and oranges here.” Unfortunately, there was no way for Daddy to understand and as expected he went ballistic. Holy Crap! How in the fucking hell did this come to such a ridiculous point? There was no reason for him to be that angry. But in Daddy’s world he expected to be the center of everyone’s universe. And that Saturday I seemed to have knocked him off center. Hmmmm, how apropos to call him and his vision of his world- off centered.
Anyway, while he was yelling at me, I started to walk to his front door to leave. As I did he lunged towards me to try to grab the keys to the car from my hands. He missed. I kept walking as I told him I’d be happy to make arrangements to get the car back to him after I was done babysitting that day. I knew I needed to get out of there. It was already 1:15 and I was really worried about being late. It was ironic that Daddy complained he couldn’t move very well because he had something wrong with his leg but that day it was as if there was nothing wrong with him. I’ll chuck it off to adrenaline. As I rushed down his apartment stairs and quickly walked to the car, he moved like lightening to be right behind me. When I opened the car door and started to get in, Daddy went to take a punch at me. I dunked. He missed. At that point I actually could have locked the doors and driven off. But, Daddy’s attempt to punch me really set off my anger and I couldn’t let his attempt go by without a response. I had finally had enough! I opened the car door and walked right up to Daddy’s face. He was shocked and put his arms in front of his face thinking I was going to hit him. I stood as tall as I could, I looked Daddy straight in his eyes and while pointing at him with my index finger I said with total strength and conviction, “You will not ever fucking hit me again, Daddy! You will not ever even try to fucking hit me again. I will not stand for it ever again. And if you ever try it again Daddy, you will fucking regret it. I will no longer take it anymore!” OK, folks, I’m not sure exactly what he would have regretted but it was all I could think of to say at the time. And it worked. I will never forget the look on Daddy’s face. He looked scared and shocked and remained guarded in case I did decide to hit him. Meanwhile, I never yelled or would have ever hit him. I just wanted to stand up for myself. As I took my house key off the car key ring he stood there emotionless. I gathered my few belongings from the car, handed him the keys and walked away (towards the nearest pay phone). As I was walking away I started shaking. I couldn’t believe I had finally stood up to Daddy. As good as it felt there was a part of me that couldn’t stop shaking because it was so scary to have done it. I made it to a pay phone and realized I had not one penny on me. I was so screwed! With no other option I turned the lever on the pay phone coin return. To my amazement two quarters dropped out. I couldn’t believe it! The first call I made my friend’s answering machine answered. I had one quarter left to call one more friend with the hopes they were home to give me a ride. Sure enough that friend was home and she kindly came to get me. By the time my friend pulled up, I was crying. As right as I knew I was about finally really and truly being able to stand up to Daddy, it was overwhelmingly sad. Then, my friend asked how I was able to call her. When I told her about my luck with the quarters, we both had a good laugh. And I want you to know Daddy NEVER hit me again.
I had been living with the professor and his wife for about 4 months and I had not seen Daddy since I walked out. We had spoken on the phone a few times but pretty much the conversations revolved around something Daddy wanted me to do, I’d refuse and then it would end with his insults and yelling at me. The professor’s wife would not like it when I’d yell back at Daddy on the phone. She would tell me over and over again to “stop engaging in the same behavior as my Dad.” She taught me to stay calm and to not yell back which I discovered made Daddy even angrier. But, the professor’s wife rehearsed with me the different scenarios that could possibly take place while talking to Daddy, so I’d be prepared with whatever he said. That really was such a poignant time for me as I was slowly learning how to separate from him. I was learning to tell him no even though I felt guilty for doing it.
I’ll never forget the first phone call I received after I had practiced with the professor’s wife. She had answered the phone and asked him to hold a moment while she got me. I was in my room when she yelled up the stairs to tell me my dad was on the phone. As I was running down the stairs because I knew it would make him mad to wait, she stopped me. She motioned with her hands for me to slow down and she whispered, “Take a deep breath before picking up the phone.” I did and when I put the receiver to my ear I nervously said, “hello?” Daddy immediately responded, “What the hell is wrong with you? How long were you planning to have me wait?” I started to explain I was not near the phone but the professor’s wife motioned for me to stop. I did and asked him what he needed. Obviously, Daddy was in a bad mood, so I knew the conversation was going to be uneventful. That was one good thing about him. There was no hiding his pissy moods. You knew as soon as you said hello to him if he was going to cut you down with his words or if he was going to be sweet and loving. I always hated the seconds before I knew.
Daddy ignored my question as he continued yelling at me. You would have thought I left him holding for hours on the phone by the way he was behaving. The professor’s wife whispered, “Just say you are sorry he feels he had to wait so long and then ask him again what he wants.” I did as she instructed which made Daddy even angrier. The professor’s wife was blown away with the way in which Daddy’s anger was escalating. She told me it was abusive and I should tell him I need to go and when he calmed down we could talk. I didn’t listen to her because, well I was afraid to say that to him. I know it’s weird and crazy but that was where I was and I just couldn’t do it. But, I did continue to remain calm and didn’t allow him to press my anger button. Finally after a good 20 minutes he told me he was moving to a new place. My heart stopped as I thought he was going to demand I help him. I was so relieved when that wasn’t it. Instead he told me he could no longer continue schlepping my belongings from house to house so therefor I needed to come get my stuff. First of all, I remember thinking that it wasn’t my fault he had to keep moving so often. See, that had become common for him after Momma died because he kept pissing people off and oh yeah, he’d also not pay them which was a little problematic. He shouldn’t have been able to get another place to live but if they refused to rent to him, he would threaten them with a discrimination law suit. And get this. Guess on what grounds he’d say they discriminated him? Are you ready? He’d tell them it was because he was Jewish. OK people, how in the hell would they have known he was Jewish I bet you’re asking yourself? After all they don’t ask that on any form when renting. Well, at least not in the 1990′s. Well, get this. He’d contact the management and would ask for a tour around the property to see if he’d be interested in renting there. Daddy would use that time to schmooze with them. Let me add that it was always a perk for Daddy if management was a pretty woman. If you read the earlier chapters you’ll know why.
Anyway, during that schmoozing time he would tell stories and talk about being Jewish. So, when or if they declined to rent to him once he made a decision to take the apartment he would claim it was because they were anti Semitic. Of course it was never because of his bad credit or his trail of debts he owed. According to Daddy the management was willing to rent to him because they gave him a tour of the property but once he mentioned he was Jewish they suddenly didn’t want to rent to him. It was incredible how he could twist situations. Only once did a place decline Daddy before he had the chance to tell them he was Jewish. He was so mad because he really liked that place. That one made me laugh. But what I hated the most was after he’d threaten them, he would ask them for something in return for all the stress they caused him. Not wanting to mess with a lawyer It wasn’t uncommon for him to end up with a free month or two of rent. One apartment complex gave him storage space! It was incredible.
But back to Daddy wanting me to get my belongings. While on the phone with him I had no idea how much stuff he needed me to pick up. When I asked him he made it sound like he had 25 boxes of mine. I tried to explain to him I was living in someone else’s house and only had one small room. He didn’t care. That wasn’t his problem. I ignored him and asked if he could please bring the boxes to me since I didn’t have a car. With every comment or question I asked he got angrier. He told me I was incredibly selfish and that I didn’t give a damn about him. He yelled at me for a good 15 minutes. During that time the professor’s wife had asked me what was happening. As soon as I had explained it to her, she told me it didn’t matter how much stuff there was, she’d help me pick it up. She whispered to me to ask him when I needed to be there and she’d call her friend to help us since she had a truck. So, once he was sort of finished yelling at me I asked him. At first Daddy couldn’t tell me when I could pick up my things. Now, here he called me to tell me my belongings were in his way but then he couldn’t tell me when I could pick it all up? What the hell? Finally, he told me I had to pick up my things that Sunday and that Sunday only. Here he had called on a Thursday afternoon and he knew I’d have to figure out how to pick up my belongings. That just wasn’t a lot of time. He made it very clear I was to be there by 1:00pm and if I didn’t show up or if I were late, he’d trash all of my things. I assured him I would be there. The professor’s wife called her friend to ask if she could help us since I apparently had so many boxes to pick up. I was relieved when everything was all set up and we had a truck to get my stuff.
I was SO freaking nervous on Sunday as we were driving to Daddy’s new place. I hadn’t seen Daddy since he punched me and I was worried he’d make a scene. I just wanted Sunday to be over. The professor’s wife and her friend took me out to lunch to help me pass the time and then we headed over to Daddy’s new place. When we arrived at 12:45 on the dot, Daddy was nowhere to be seen. I was ready to leave but the professor’s wife assured me she had time to wait. I felt so bad to be wasting hers and her friend’s time. Daddy would not tell me his apartment number, so I had no way of knowing if he was at the apartment complex or not. At around 1:30 Daddy and a few strong looking men walked out of one of the apartments headed to a UHaul truck sitting in the parking lot. Daddy smirked as if to be satisfied he made us wait. Without waisting time the professor’s wife asked where we needed to get my things so we could get it out of his way. Daddy seemed confused by that question. In the back of my mind I had thought he probably actually had no clue what was mine, so he didn’t even have my things separated. And sure enough as he walked onto the UHaul he started opening boxes to figure out which had my belongings in them. The professor’s wife didn’t hold back and asked him if he had everything separated. Daddy gave the excuse the boxes had gotten mixed up and he’d have to open each of them to see. Meanwhile, um, he didn’t think to label the box? But, knowing him he made last minute arrangements to move and when they came he wasn’t packed. So, they just threw this and that into a box without any rime or reason. Oy!
I remembered being worried that the professor’s wife and friend had to wait for Daddy to go through the boxes. They were annoyed with him for that and I didn’t want them to be angry with him. Daddy was displaying his charming side which they didn’t buy one bit. However, I wanted to buy it. I wanted to hug Daddy and tell him how much I loved him. He had this way of looking at you with these very intense eyes that said, “I need you.” UGH, even to this day I can still see the intensity of his eyes and his need to have me in his life. And yet I knew then as I do now that I couldn’t be the daughter he wanted. I could not allow him to control me in a way that only benefitted him and most importantly was not healthy for me. I hated that trapped feeling! I hated Daddy couldn’t see his level of control therefor forcing me to stay away from him. I just hated it all and only wanted some normalcy in my life.
Just when the professor’s wife suggested to Daddy we return when he had all of my belongings gathered, Daddy started handing us individual items to take. It was embarrassing to see the shocked faces of the professor’s wife and her friend as he handed me my jewelry box he pulled from a box with his kitchen items in it. As he opened each box he found something to give me whether it was mine or not. I suppose since I was there he was obligated to hand me something. The professor’s wife asked Daddy for an empty box to put the individual items. So get this. After all of the ranting about my stuff being in his way, when it was all said and done, I had one filled box, a box one third filled and a trunk filled with my clothes I had left behind. I remember the professor’s wife and her friend couldn’t believe all of the fuss Daddy had made over my belongings and how incredibly long it took him to give me my things. I realized as I was standing and looking at my few belongings that Daddy had only use it as an excuse to be able to see me. But, what a crazy way to do it. In fact he was surprised when I left so soon after getting my things. But, that was Daddy. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had expected me to hang out for a while. I’m sure he made a point to tell his girlfriends that I didn’t even stay to help him schlep his stuff from the UHaul to his apartment. It was common for him to create these scenario’s in his head and then be totally pissed off when you didn’t do it as he had planned. I hated that entire I love you, no I hate you roller coaster ride. Regardless of the many truths I was beginning to see in Daddy, it was still very hard to leave him that day. You have to understand too, I was familiar with him. It was my norm for so long. But, the longer I was away from him and the more people around me who witnessed his behavior, they helped me to see his world was far from normal.
After seven months at the home of the Professor and his wife things were beginning to get strained. Listen, let me first say their hospitality and kindness I greatly appreciated however the professor’s wife definitely had control issues. Whenever she made a suggestion for me I quickly learned she expected me to do it. Because I was living in her home and not paying rent (for the first 6 months) I did feel obligated to do as she requested even though her advice wasn’t always good for me. For instance her son was the manager at a bar about 5 blocks from where I lived. Her son needed to hire a person to wash and sanitize the dishes. Here was the catch though. He needed that person from 10 pm to 2am. The thing was I by no means was opposed to working that job. I was desperate to work and needed something convenient to where I was living because I didn’t have a car. Not having a car limited me and kept me from many good jobs. Anyway, the professor’s wife thought that job would be a perfect job since it was in walking distance. Gosh, that would have been fine if it were in the day time or even early in the evening. But wholly crap the 2am thing really scared me. I was terrified to walk home that early in the morning especially when the streets were so deserted. And aside from my own fear there had been several reports of a rapist attacking women in that very neighborhood who were walking or jogging alone in the early morning. It was strange how the professor’s wife knew of those dangers but seemed unconcerned for me. When she first told me of the job and I expressed my concern, she told me I was in no place to turn down a job. She felt I was being spoiled. But, I wasn’t. I had no problem working 5 jobs if I could fit them into my schedule. Bottom line was I was worried for my safety. However because I needed a place to live and because she held the power in deciding my fate, I took the job of dishwasher to keep her from being mad at me. At first I asked for a ride home from other staff members who were still there by the time I was done. But because I was the dishwasher, I usually was the last one there. Well, the manager who was the professor and his wife’s son was the other person there. I once asked him for a ride. It wasn’t just raining but it was also storming outside. I couldn’t believe he told me he was going in a different direction and therefor couldn’t take me home. Meanwhile, when I was running home that night, I was so upset when the manager drove right by me. He even drove through a puddle which splashed all over me. I remember thinking that only happened in movies but there I stood proof it does happen in real life. OK, after that I was so pissed off. A few weeks later the manager complained to his mom, who then complained to me, that he didn’t like I was asking other staff members for a ride home. His mom told me it was my responsibility and I wasn’t to ask for a ride home anymore. I thought it was so strange. Why did they care so much if I was getting a ride home? I started to feel I was living back with Daddy and having to deal with his ridiculous games. And here I was back in another controlling situation with the drama. How in the hell did that happen? I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for what the professor and his wife were doing for me but the longer I was there the more controlling the professor’s wife seemed to want to have over me. Much of the drama started when I began working for her son and at the same time when her daughter started complaining about me living in her parent’s house. It felt as if the children were placing me in the middle of what had already been a strained relationship between the children and their parents. Why me? I didn’t mean to cause any added problems but there was no way around it as their children became more involved. I knew my time there was ticking and I would need another plan. Oy! What would I do? It scared me. I had money saved but it was for school, books and living expenses. I didn’t have enough of a consistent and steady income to pay for an apartment. But, I knew if I could just appease the professor’s wife I would buy a little time to figure it out. My first step though was to quit the dishwashing job without making waves. I couldn’t take the son being nice to me when I saw him but then would tell his mom lies about me later. It got to a point I’d have to worry if his mom was mad at me because of something her son told her. Afraid she was going to kick me out, I did whatever I could to make her not mad at me. It bothered me so much that she believed her son even when she had told me on numerous occasions of her son’s many lies and games he’d play. I suppose she really wanted to believe him in this case, so there wasn’t anything I could have said to convince her otherwise. I just had to keep moving forward and try to ignore what I could.
I was so happy to be able to quit my job as dishwasher after three months of working there. At that point I could easily justify quitting to the professor’s wife because I had other jobs that paid more with better hours. I worked on the campus of my college, I was working at my Synagogue and I had a steady babysitting job with a family down the street. All of them worked so perfectly with my class schedule. It felt good to finally earn enough money to pay for my room at the professor and his wife’s home. I paid $150 a month and I was happy to be able to do it. It gave me some power back.
I felt in control of my life and I was proud of the direction I was taking. My life was looking up. I had declared my major which was fine arts. And even though I was lonely and missed my own home, I was making good choices. I was making good friends and I was figuring out my niche in life. College was a safe haven for me as it was a barrier to the real, outside world. I had been in that outside world and I knew how scary it was. I was more than happy to stay put where I was while in a lot of ways trying to find myself and my inner strength. It was interesting because the more dependent I was getting the more restrictive the professor’s wife was becoming with me. She started to inquire where I was going, why I needed to go somewhere and she started to inquire about personal things like my grades. It was odd. My only explanation was her children were lying about me and whatever they were telling her made her worry. And I don’t mean worried for me but worried for the safety of her home. It was crazy. I found myself out of the rat race with Daddy but here I was in another one.
I knew I needed to go ahead and find another place to live before things disintegrated too far at the professor and his wife’s home. I was greatly appreciative for what they had done for me and I never wanted to leave on bad terms. However, I knew I would need to be very creative and would have to think outside of the box to figure out how I could do it with my very limited resources. I made a list of everyone I knew and thought about what service I could do for them in exchange for being able to live with them. One family kept coming to mind. I thought about the people I had been babysitting their 2 year old daughter. I absolutely loved their child and thought maybe I could make an arrangement with them in exchange. They had a large room on their third floor. I thought I could ask them if I could stay there in exchange for babysitting. But, I knew they were very private people and probably wouldn’t want someone in their home which I couldn’t blame them. Then, I remembered the dad had said on several occasions he wanted a garage to park his car. That got me thinking. Now, I don’t know what possessed me because looking back on it, my suggestion seemed a bit forward. But, I knew I had to try. My idea was they could build the garage the husband always wanted but maybe they’d consider placing an apartment with it. Knowing they could use a regular babysitter and I needed a place to live, I thought it would have been a perfect partnership. I could stay in that apartment and in exchange I would babysit for them on an agreed amount of time. There were several friends who thought I was crazy not necessarily for the idea but for having the nerve to present it to the family. I’ve never asked the mom what she initially thought when I approached her with the idea. But, from what I remember she seemed intrigued with the idea and not offended that I asked. They took a couple of weeks to think about it. I was hopeful as I had no other idea. Yep, I had all of my eggs in that one basket. I can’t even begin to tell you how elated I was when they told me they were going to build a garage with an apartment above it. Once they had chosen a design and met with their contractor they told me that it would take about 6 months build. I was so excited and on cloud nine by the news. However, I had to float down to earth to figure out where I’d live for roughly six months. I knew I needed to leave the home of the professor and his wife. Having learned a little bit from living with Daddy I knew I needed to get out before the tension grew. It was then that my adopted mom stepped forward and offered for me to stay with them during the interim. And back into the clouds I went. I was overjoyed I had everything set up. My only concern was living with my adopted family. I didn’t want to seem as if I was taking advantage in any way. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much I cared about them so I wanted to be so careful I didn’t ruin that relationship by living with them.
Listen, those 6 months in my adopted family’s home were the best. I have so many awesomely wonderful memories that I still think about to this day. It was the first time since I was 15 years old that I actually had three meals a day available to me. I was allowed to eat dinner with the family and I loved it. OK, it made me nervous because I knew I’d have to talk but I have to credit those times as what helped me out of my shell. It was special to me that I was always included in their round the table conversation on how everyone’s day went. Especially at first it was extremely hard for me to participate. I had not been used to being allowed to tell someone about my day. Only at those dinners did I realize I was responsible for many years to hear about Daddy’s day and if there was something wrong (which was often) I had to help come up with a solution. Daddy never had time to ask about my day and often he would tell me he had much bigger problems than me. So, I learned to not talk about it. So, you could imagine how shocked I was to be given that opportunity. And even more so if I had a problem, I was overwhelmingly shocked when everyone would make a suggestion on how to solve it. You have to understand from where I was coming. I had never been valued or validated. And something so simple as asking about my day that alone gave me that value and validation that I was important. It was hard for me to understand why others would be interested in me. That’s how foreign it all was to me at that time. The time living with my adopted family was life changing for me. I loved every aspect of being part of a family. Listen, my sister and I had many wonderful memories together. We used to sit and laugh over nothing. The difference was we had a Dad who would tell us to shut up because we were being too loud and would often make us stop laughing. However, when I lived with this family, it sounds incredibly dumb, but we were allowed to laugh. That in itself was so meaningful because something so menial was huge for me.
While I was living with my adopted family Daddy started calling me regularly. Part of me felt he was embarrassed there was this other family taking care of me. And more importantly, he wanted to show he hadn’t deserted me as I might have told them. He had an image to uphold and he wanted to show them I was the one who was lying. Now, I don’t know that for a fact but it would have been with in the realm of his way of thinking. During that time Daddy had called me to tell me he wanted to buy me a car. I was blown away by his offer. As excited as I wanted to be, I was very suspicious. He just never did things for other people. It was always about benefitting him. So, where was his benefit?
Over the course of several conversations Daddy told me he had found an old car for me. I made it clear over the course of those conversations that I could not afford to pay for the insurance. He told me over and over again he’d pay for it. But that too made me nervous. That would mean he’d have control. My adopted mother overheard several of the conversations and without overtly giving me her opinion, her questions clearly told me how she felt about it. In essence she too questioned Daddy’s credibility. But, once again even though I knew of Daddy’s track record, I wanted to believe that time he wanted to do something for me. During one of my conversations with Daddy, he mentioned he found a car for me. He said he just had a little problem. In order to get the good deal he needed to go ahead and put down half of the money. That was when Daddy said, “I know I promised you a car and I said I’d pay for it. And I will pay for it. My word is my word. I’m just waiting to get paid by one of my clients which they promised to do in a month. But, I need that money now. Would it be possible to borrow a $1,000 and I will pay you back in a month when the other money comes in?” I clearly remembered telling Daddy I had the money but it was for school tuition. Now, here’s the thing. Daddy had been filing me as a dependent on his taxes, so in order for me to have gotten money for school, I had to have his income tax returns. Since he refused to give them to me, I had to obtain independence by filing my own taxes for at least one year. That meant until I got that status I had to pay for my college tuition. So while waiting it turned out I had to pay for two quarters. I had been working for many months and was able to save that money which totaled $1,000. I guess my point was I was in that predicament of paying for college because of him and I was going to be so stupid to give him that money for a car he promised to buy for me? OK, well call me stupid because I gave Daddy the $1,000. On the check I wrote loan for car to be paid back and then I gave the next month’s date. I also placed a note with the money stating I had to have the money back by that certain date because I had to pay for my next quarter at college. He even called me when he received it and promised he would get it back to me by that date.
A few weeks later I had moved into my brand spanking new studio apartment. I had mixed emotions. I was sad to be leaving the security of my adopted family but I was excited to have my own space. It was a beautiful apartment. I had been in my new apartment a few days when Daddy called to ask me if I was ready to test drive my new car. He told me he was going to pick me up in an hour and we’d go look at it. When I saw the car I wasn’t thrilled with it. Listen, I didn’t care so much how it looked but it was a car from the 1970′s and was huge. But, I had to remind myself that at least it was a car. Daddy told me he wanted to drive it first. He had the entire engine rebuilt and he wanted to make sure everything was done correctly. So, he hopped into the driver’s seat and into the passenger’s seat. While driving down one of the main roads Daddy accelerated and slowed down to check out the new engine. While he was putting it through his own gluttony of tests Daddy told me he had to explain a bunch of things to me. He then said, “OK, I looked into insurance and your best bet is going to be…” Before he could even finish I cut him off and asked him what he meant. I reminded him that he had offered to pay for the insurance. And like we had never had our previous conversations, he started to talk to me as if I was a prima Dona expecting it from my Daddy. I got upset and said, “Daddy, I didn’t ask you to buy a car for me. You offered it. When I told you a car would be nice but don’t worry about it since I can’t afford the insurance, you told me you’d pay for it.” As if I hadn’t said a thing Daddy kept talking to me like I was a spoiled brat not getting her way and he was going to teach me a lesson. That was when Daddy said, “Listen kiddo, you only paid $1,000 for this car. I paid an added $2,000 to get it to where it needed to be to make it safe for you to drive.” I could feel the heat in my body rise from my feet to my head. I was floored by what he had said to me. I was angry and extremely hurt. I started to cry. I looked at Daddy and said, “You told me the $1,000 I gave you was a loan and that you would pay me back when you got paid by your client! Daddy, I told you I had to have that money for college. I gave you all I had and no longer have money to attend college next quarter. How could you screw me like this?” Daddy got mad. He started yelling at me that it wasn’t the time to back out. I yelled back at him, “Back out of what? I didn’t agree to any of this! Daddy, you lied to me and now I’m going to pay the price. You stole my $1,000!” He got angry and started to drive erratically. Something inside me clicked. I knew it was a waste of my time to try to get my money back. It was gone. I told Daddy to take me home. He tried to tell me all he had done for me and how much he had bent over backwards to get me that car. I told him I never asked for him to do it and I would have never given him my money if I had known I wouldn’t have gotten it back.
When Daddy handed the car keys to the gentleman who fixed it up, he told him he’d call him later. It was incredibly sad because that gentleman seemed proud of the work he had done on the car and he wasn’t sure why Daddy wasn’t as equally excited. As he drove me home I wouldn’t say a word. By that point I couldn’t believe Daddy had screwed me over so blatantly. How could he do this? Why did he do this? And now I was screwed. All I could think about was what my adopted mom told me about giving Daddy the money. And here I was thinking she was so right. But, that didn’t change my situation nor did it change what Daddy had done to me. The weird part about it all was how in the hell did he think it was all going to play out? He just thought I was going to go along with it? I guess he didn’t care because he got the money from me. Just as soon as Daddy stopped in front of my new apartment, I opened the car door to get out. Crying, I said, “I can’t believe you screwed me and would do this to me!” I slammed his car door and ran as fast as I could to my apartment. I was so stupid! Why did I keep giving Daddy another chance? Didn’t I have enough proof he wasn’t to be trusted? Why in G-d’s name did I need him so badly? I sat on the floor of my apartment totally numb by what Daddy had done. That single event above any of his hitting, shoving or punching sessions was the most painful thing he had done to me. Maybe because it forced me to look at not only his character but mine as well. And during that self reflection I felt my heart had been ripped a part. Looking back I do believe that was the day I chose to stuff my emotions so far down into my gut it would take another 20 years before they’d surface again. I also started to admit to a few people my Dad was not a nice person. But, I did so in a very distant way.
An entire year would go by before I’d hear from Daddy again.