Saturday, January 23, 2010

How I met my sweetie - Part III

Moving day arrived. I had an address for my new apartment, but had not actually seen it. Since I was driving down from Kansas City (and cell phones were not an option yet), I had made arrangements for my brother (Jerry) and sister-in-law (Kim) to meet us at the apartment complex at a certain time of the day. I had sold my washer and dryer (to the people who bought my townhouse equity) and my youngest sister had been packing my things the week before my move. She had been staying at the townhouse with my children so it was nice that she had been able to do that for me. When I got back into town Friday night, I just finished up the final details.

I had plenty of help to load up the moving van that Saturday morning, so we actually hit the road at a reasonable time of day. My dad and my oldest brother (Rick) were manning the moving van, while my mother rode with me and the kids in my VW. I don’t remember exactly how long it took us to get to Wichita from KC, but the speed limit on the moving van was probably about 50 mph. It was a long day. Once we arrived at the apartment complex, my brothers, sister-in-law, father, and I unloaded the moving van. My mom supervised the kids and kept them out of harm’s way. The only things that we managed to get set up that evening were the beds, but that was OK. We had a place to lay our heads that night. My parents and brother stayed at Jerry’s house Saturday night and then the kids and I went over the next morning for breakfast and to say good-bye. I didn’t know how many weeks it would be before we saw each other again.

The apartment was a very good size and the master bedroom was huge by apartment standards. I put a double bed, a twin bed, two dressers, two toy boxes, and a kid-sized table and chairs in that room and they still had room to play on the floor. One of the dressers and toy boxes did go into the walk-in closet, but still – the room was huge. They had a door to the bathroom from their room, so that was nice. The second bedroom was big enough for my queen-sized water bed, my dresser, and end table. I had plenty of room to walk around the bed and the closet was plenty big enough for my clothes. The kitchen was tiny, but that was OK. I had enough room to cook for the three of us and we had a dishwasher – something I hadn’t really had before. It was very nice. The dining room was big enough for my table and chairs, and it even had a pantry. Sweet…

One of the things I noticed when we were moving in was that I was less than ½ mile from a Southern Baptist church, which is the denomination I had attended all of my life. That was great as it meant that I could get involved in church and my children would continue to be exposed to Christianity. Unfortunately, in 1984, there were very few resources for divorced women with children. I was too young for the “adults” (those individuals who had already raised their families) and I was really not a good fit for the “young adults” (the singles group, who had no responsibilities other than themselves). The other option was the “married” group, and I obviously didn’t fit there either. The married group did things that involved both spouses and/or their children. I was never included in this group. The young adults’ class did things that only included themselves. Children were not included or allowed, so I also wasn’t included in their functions.

I did manage to make friends with someone who was married, but she also had two children about the same age as my children – and her husband did not participate in church activities. So, we sort of hung out together. Plus, she encouraged me to join the church’s softball team that summer and said the kids would just all play together and everyone kept an eye out for the whole group. That was a great idea and lots of fun.

In the meantime, I joined Parents without Partners and tried to do a few of the group activities. One weekend, we went camping and fishing at a local lake. My kids had a great time but I spent the “night” trying to convince the divorced man who had invited me that I was not out for a sexual relationship. I wasn’t sexually active before my first marriage and I wasn’t going to be afterwards, either. I eventually quit attending meetings and functions because it seemed to be more of who-could-hook-up-with-who rather than something that could involve adults and their children in activities.

My brother and SIL were not interested in ever doing any babysitting for me so I never got out of the apartment without my children. We also had very little money so entertainment consisted of once-monthly trips to McDonalds so they could play on the equipment and have a Happy Meal. I had a diet drink or nothing, depending on the finances that week. It got to the point where I was really angry at life – not depressed, but just angry. I was angry at the single men who thought I’d be an easy mark (after all, I must be interested in “it” since I’d had “it” before and surely I missed “it”). I was angry at the church for not even trying to figure out what could be done for single/divorced mothers. I was angry at my ex for not paying child support. I was just plain angry.

In the meantime, I was pretty close with my friend (Debbie). She had another friend, also named Debbie, and I had met her a few times. Her children were also about the same ages as ours so we hung out as much as our schedules would allow. Both of their husbands worked together. One day, in frustration I made a comment to Debbie (my friend) that she repeated to the other Debbie, who told her husband. He went to work and told Ron that he had another “kook” for him to call and talk out of suicide.

The comment was in reference to the movie “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and was in no way representative of what I would do or how I felt. I don’t remember my exact words but in retrospect, it could have been taken the way it was. Ron was divorced and had been in a position after his divorce where someone wanted him to talk to their friend (female) because she was lonely, had no friends in the area, and had a pretty heavy burden. Before he could actually engage her in conversation or dinner out, she did kill herself. He was devastated because he thought that if he had been able to talk to her and tell her that there were people out there who would be glad to be her friend.

Naturally, when Debbie’s husband told him about me, he asked for my telephone number. That was a Sunday (July 29, 1984) and we talked on the telephone for about two hours. He was very easy to talk to and really listened to everything. I felt myself opening up to him in a way I’d never opened up to anyone. I didn’t gloss over the details or tell them in such a way that it sounded like I was having a pity party. This was life – this was my life – and since he asked, I told.
He called me the next day at work and asked if I would be interested in dinner that Wednesday (August 1). I said yes, but I’d have to figure out who would be able to watch my kids. Of course, my brother was not available. One of my co-workers happened to hear part of my conversation (we were the only female workers in the whole office – which was really small) and she jumped up and down with excitement, saying she’d come to my house and keep the kids.

So, I looked his number up in the phone book and called him back. I got an answering machine with the voice of Donald Duck telling me to leave a message. Hmmm…. I was a bit unsure of that, so I basically said, “If this is the Ron Williams who asked me out for Wednesday – the answer is yes but I’m not leaving my number. If this is you, you have my number; if it’s not you don’t need my number.” And I hung up. And, waited. And, waited some more.

I didn’t have to wait too long because he called me that afternoon, and laughed at my response to his answering machine message. He had many voices he could leave messages in but Donald was his newest.

(The meeting – the date – the wedding, to follow.)


Kathy's Klothesline said...

And.......... waiting patiently to hear more.....

Pat said...

I am really enjoying your story! I'm actually glad I'm behind in reading your posts so I can read them all in one fell swoop!