Our relationship continued without much fanfare. He was still working at the local newspaper which seemed to be more of a part-time position and I was still working at the hangout. There were the usual dates with his brother which were nice but still puzzling.
After a while, he did begin spending more time with me (if you call playing music upstairs at the hangout while I watched) spending time together. He enjoyed his music and he really enjoyed his beer. He knew I wasn’t a drinker but didn’t give me any trouble about it then.
I guess since it seemed that things between us were getting serious, he decided to look for another job. He took my car to an interview although I had discovered that he actually owned an old black Chevrolet. I don’t know why he didn’t tell me unless it was because it was old and unreliable and my car was new.
He got the job and without any discussion or planning, one weekend we were on the way to the courthouse to get married. He never formally proposed or even casually asked.
It was of course, in the city where he grew up and where his mama and daddy lived. His mama, daddy, grandma and little brother were there. His mama brought a diamond necklace for me to wear and made it clear that it was to be returned as soon as the “I do’s” were said.
I was nervous and uncomfortable and I knew that his mama was not at all happy that he was marrying me. The vows were said and I have always wondered if he noticed that I said all the words to the Justice of the Peace instead of to him.
After the ceremony, we went back to his mama and daddy’s house. She had made a chocolate “wedding” cake and had gotten a bottle of champagne. At some point in the past, I had mentioned that I liked “bought” birthday cakes but only because I had never had one. She had been drinking all day of course and when she brought out the cake, she said “I bet you like bought wedding cakes, too.” I didn’t say anything nor did he.
She poured two glasses of champagne for us and I refused….because I didn’t drink. It angered her and she had plenty to say about it, so I finally put the glass up to my lips and pretended to take a sip.
After a few minutes, J*** said “well, I guess I’ll take her out and make her feel married.” I was appalled and embarrassed. I felt like Loretta Lynn when she said she wasn’t going outside because everybody was going to know what they had been in there a-doin’. We went to the Sheraton Hotel and got a room.
The next day, I took a glass ashtray from the room as a memento.
The job he got was as a copy editor at a small family owned newspaper and we were off to start our new lives. We borrowed a friends’ station wagon to move our things and it held everything we owned.
We found a little duplex to rent and settled in. He parked his car in the front yard and that’s where it stayed until he sold it for fifty dollars.
I started looking for a job and found one at a high-end furniture making company. I was in charge of the file room and I enjoyed it. On my way home from work one day, I saw a small table on the side of the road. It only had two legs, but I picked it up and took it home. I propped it up against the wall and we had a kitchen table! I was good at scrounging. I found two cinder blocks in the back yard and when I found another table top, it became our new coffee table.
I really lucked out when the granddaughter of the owner of the company came to work for a few weeks and I was asked to train her. I liked her and was nice to her. I had told her about my “finds” and mentioned that all we needed now was a place to sit. She took me downstairs where they actually made the furniture. I wasn’t sure what we were doing but her grandpa was there. She told him I needed some furniture so he told me to tell him what I wanted. I picked out a sofa, a love seat, a chair and an ottoman. I was so proud and couldn’t wait to tell J***. I don’t think he was as impressed as I was but we were on our way, I thought.
We bought a Volkswagen from one of the editors at the newspaper. We were a two car family again. Then, one day we came home and my car was gone. It had been repossessed because we couldn’t afford the payments. I didn’t really miss the car but it made things a little more difficult. His mama and daddy had come to visit us and I mentioned that my car had been repossessed. Being true to herself, she said “and you’re never going to let him forget it, are you?” Being true to myself, I said nothing.
He went to work early and got off early, so most of the time I would take him to work and then pick him up at the local bar on my way home.
We still didn’t have very much, especially in the way of clothes. He only had three dress shirts and a few t-shirts and I would wash them in the sink at night and then iron them dry in the morning. I decided to start trying to make some clothes, so he bought me a sewing machine. It was a used Riccar but I loved it. I found the cheapest material I could, which at the time was as little as fifty cents a yard. I didn’t care what kind of fabric it was…..I just wanted some clothes.
I literally “went to town” making clothes for us. I made him a pair of corduroy pants. I didn’t know anything about “naps” so it looked like different colors on each leg but he wore them anyway. He was very supportive of my attempts and expressed approval of everything I made….even if it looked like crap.
I was a size 8 and weighed 116 pounds when we got married. I kept buying size 8 patterns and when I would make the clothes, they would fall off of me. I just assumed that the patterns were wrong and kept fussing about them.
Having never had a class in sewing, I had no idea how to put in a zipper, so I would just sew the seam shut. I had always been very limber, so I would throw my shoulders out of joint and weasel my way into the blouse.
I was at work and one of the girls asked me if I wanted to go weigh. I thought she said “do you want to go away” so I said sure. There was this huge clock-scale downstairs. I hopped on it and was shocked when it said I weighed 89 pounds. I kept getting on and off of it and it still read the same. I had lost 27 pounds.
I had been bleeding heavily and had seen some rather large clots but I had always had heavy periods so I didn’t think much about it.
The girls at work had noticed how much weight I had lost and one of them gave me her doctors’ name and number and told me to call him. I called and made an appointment.
I found out that I had been pregnant and was miscarrying. I had to have a DNC. I scheduled the appointment and the day I was supposed to go to the hospital, I realized that we had no water. It had been turned off because we couldn’t pay the bill.
I needed to take a bath and I didn’t know what to do. J*** was at work of course and we didn’t have a telephone. I don’t know what I thought he could do about it and the only thing I could think of was to go to the other side of the duplex and fill up a bucket with water from their outdoor spigot, so that’s what I did.
I had the DNC. The doctor was explaining what was going to happen. He was going to scrape the remains of my dead child from my womb and he acted like he was going to extract a tooth.
J*** and I never talked about the baby….ever. That fact and the fact that he didn’t seem to be aware that I had gone from a healthy weight to a skeleton should have been an indication of how much I was going to be noticed.
His mama didn’t have much sympathy. All she said was “well, you HAVE to have a little boy and name him J***** .” That statement would echo throughout the years and would become the source of such unbelievable contempt that it would eventually morph into pure hatred. I was being commanded to produce a son and the name had been predetermined. I didn’t take well to being given orders, especially when those orders were coming from a drunk who had already made it clear that in her entitled eyes, I was virtually worthless.