After getting the babysitter to the airport, I spent a few more nights in hotels, looking for a place to live during the day. I finally found one and the girls and I spent the first night on the floor. Getting utilities turned on and arranging delivery from the storage unit took several days but once everything arrived, I felt like I could finally take a breath.
My mission was to have everything unpacked and ready for Jay when he finally came home. I worked all day and halfway through the night, arranging furniture and filling cabinets, all the while tending to my girls.
It seemed like Jay was never going to make it back from Japan and I missed him so much.
He called to say that he was back and was ready to hit the road. I excitedly told the girls that daddy was on his way. We hadn’t seen him in more than a month.
I didn’t know that he had also called his mama and daddy to let them know when he would be getting in and gave them our new address. When they showed up, I couldn’t believe it but I tried to be gracious even when I saw that they had brought grandma Franklin with them.
I had stocked the refrigerator with beer for Jay when he got there. I offered his daddy one and he declined. I was surprised because he always drank with Jay. I asked him if he was sure and I could tell that he was uncomfortable when he looked at grandma Franklin. I asked him if she didn’t know that they both drank. Rita heard me and said “why disillusion an old woman?”
Rita had already made herself a drink and grandma Franklin thought it was grapefruit juice.
The whole charade sickened me but it made sense. Rita not only hid her drinking, she raised her three boys telling them that her snuff was her “medicine.” Grandma Franklin also dipped and after I made it clear that when it came to my girls, it was to be called exactly what it was. “It is snuff, not medicine.” Jay tried to make a joke about it by saying “I grew up thinking my mama and my grandma suffered from the same disease.” I didn’t find it humorous.
Later that afternoon, I heard Jay pull into the driveway. I was so anxious to see him. I called the girls and opened the door. Kasey walked up and he gave her a hug. Barclay hid behind my knees. She wasn’t sure who he was. I waited for my hug and kiss but instead, he walked past me and shook his daddy’s hand, hugged and kissed his mama and then that grandmother. I was left standing at the door.
He sat down and started telling us about the clusterfuck that happened when he was trying to get over to Japan.
All of his flights were scheduled on DC-10s and one had just gone down in Chicago so the rest of them had been grounded. At one point, he ended up in Hawaii but he finally made it.
I didn’t get to talk to him but once due to the time difference but when I did, he told me about “Charlie” the cockroach, who lived in the shower and how there had been a bathrobe and tiny little slippers laid out for him in his room when he got to the hotel. He said he was having a really good time and I bet he was.
He repeated the story for his mama and daddy and Rita laughed like a little school girl.
Then came the story about the drive and it was almost tragically humorous. It took on the same tone as my trip as far as “what else can possibly happen?”
The famous “gas crunch” was on and he was right in the middle of it. I had been lucky and didn’t run into any problems other than not being able to get more than ten dollars worth of gas at a time.
Jay had been sitting in line for a pretty long time and when it was his turn to get gas, the pump ran out. The attendant told him to go to the next one and everybody started getting pissed because they thought he was “cutting in line.” The attendant explained it to the other drivers and Jay got out alive.
While driving down a country road with a full tank of gas and many more miles to go, the old blue truck blew a tire. Jay pulled over to smoke a few dozen cigarettes and ponder the situation. A few minutes later, an old man walked down and asked him if he knew how to read. In his usual cocky way, Jay said “I might not be able to figure out how to change this tire, but yeah, I can read.”
Then the old man said that he had a telephone book if he wanted to read it and call for help. Jay then realized that the old man couldn’t read.
Jay had brought gifts for us. He got me a scarf with Japanese writing on it and had gotten all three of us Kimonos.
He brought back a Kendo Shinai which was a bamboo stick that he had used over there. Jay had been a fencer at Duke and that was right up his alley. He had a picture of himself dressed in the traditional garb, looking like a gladiator and he looked like a giant compared to the other little Japanese men.
His mama, daddy and grandma stayed most of the day and then left. I knew Jay was exhausted after the drive, so he went to bed and I stayed up and tended to the girls.
There was no down time for Jay. The new managing editor was flexing his muscles and would call late at night and tell Jay to go cover a story. For the most part though, it was a pretty good situation.
He was at home most nights and his middle brother lived in the same area. They would get together sometimes to have a beer or two. I would sit and listen to them talk and it was as if I wasn’t in the room. It was much the same as when Jay was talking to his daddy, or anybody else, for that matter.
After a few months, I think it was obvious to Jay that he was pretty much screwed at his hometown newspaper, so he started looking for another job.
He was offered a position at a The Philadelphia Inquirer, a prestigious, award-winning paper and once again, we were headed up north.
We needed to find a place to stay up there, which meant I had to get on an airplane. I was terrified but I did it. We found a place to rent in Chestnut Hill. It was a huge mansion with three floors and each room was almost as big as a small house. It had eleven foot ceilings and hardwood floors. It was actually the kind of house that I had always dreamed of having.
Then, came the flight home.
For some reason, I was even more terrified than I had been on the way there. I got on the plane and we were way in the back with no windows or anything. Suddenly, I felt like I had to get off of that plane so I got my pocketbook and started walking toward the front. A flight attendant started following me saying “ma’am is everything okay?”
Jay was right behind her and yelled “NO. MY WIFE’S DECIDED AT THE LAST MINUTE THAT SHE CAN’T FUCKING HANDLE IT.”
I was embarrassed so I turned around and sat back down. He kept trying to get me to read a magazine or something. I was literally afraid that if I crossed my legs, the airplane would tilt to one side and fall down. He had that familiar contemptible, disgusted smirk on his face and he made me feel bad. I told him that if we crashed, I would never forgive him. We didn’t crash but his treatment certainly had an impact on me.
We got back and started getting ready to move. It was the first time a paper had paid our moving expenses and it was nice. The movers came in and reduced the house to a pile of boxes in no time flat.
We drove the station wagon and let the movers take the old blue truck.
We were on the road and ready for yet another adventure.