"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage."
I haven’t written and I am sorry. I hit a plateau of pain in writing of that funeral and the deception, duplicity and betrayal that it brought. I have finally realized writing of it will not change what happened nor will it bring my father back, or my relationships with my brothers. I had something waiting for me. Unlike the mourners I left behind in Kenosha, I had a refuge.
I boarded that plane and thought of Mel. She was my light and my hope. She promised me she would never let me suffer one more day of pain.
When Mel picked me up she was more than apologetic for my going there alone. She held me in my pain and confusion and she never blamed me for what had occurred between me and Bill and the capricious yet predictable outcome and as contrary as that sounds it was what it was.
I felt sorry for all of them in the end. I really did, I had what they didn’t have I had certain security and was loved in a way most people could never comprehend…and I was blessed.
Things went back to normal as much as they could with children traveling in and out the doors of our lives. Needing Mel and I for the security they could not receive at home and we had no problem following through and being responsible overseers of their youth.
I worked several projects at that time in contract positions. I much preferred that because there was a beginning and an end. And the money was a might bit better. Still we had money problems. No matter how much money I made, it was never enough. Devon was the definitive debate leader and required a lot of capital keep her stand. Her education was her future and I never wanted to tell her no. She went to Debate camps in the summer at University of Texas in Austin at almost a thousand dollars a crack. But the events that were the most costly were the monthly debate tournaments and trips, one to Harvard University. But the prize in her hand as she walked thru the door with gavels, plaques and crystal monuments to her talent made it worth the strain on the budget.
But even that was to be taken from me. Devon had gone through things with my previous relationship that she could not, and I would not let go. She was resentful, angry and it went further than it should have for a young teenage girl. I loved her unconditionally as I should and I took what she dished. I felt I had no option. We had no choice. She threatened to run away and all I could think about was my high school years after I ran away. At a very young age life had taught me undeniably that concession, in its place, was as noble as defiance, especially if I had no choice. In and out of psychiatric wards, foster homes and finally Jeanne Ihlenfeldt, my social worker asked for custody of me. But it was too late. The system failed me and it was not going to fail my child. I wanted my child to go out and grab the world by the lapels and kick ass. Effective action is always unjust
I sent her to Hawaii to live with her father.
And I learned about Prozac.
Without Mel, I could not have survived and I barely did. Locked in this cage all alone in my mind she held the key.
My dreams were filled with pain and tears. Then she would come in from work at the hour of the most darkness , quietly find her way under the mounds of soft comforters and crisp sheets, setting me free of this pain, if only for the moment. And then would I realize I was living the dreams that I once dreamed. Before Mel, I would dream of finding a certain bliss, but my eyes opened to whatever I settled..
In the darkness, with the shadows of the trees rushing under the moonlight I could see her blonde hair and luminescent white skin as she stared into my eyes her face coming closer to mine and her mouth against mine, her arms wrapped under my shoulders she pulled me closer her teeth softly pressing against the flesh of my neck finding every inch of my body as if separating my skin from my soul. We consumed each other for what felt like hours.
When she left for only moments, she would move away from me climbing out of our bed, her skin was shown white as she walked away, I couldn’t believe my fortune while all the hardship weighed so desperately in my heart . I read this somewhere: Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it’s destination full of hope.
And as all good things do, it had to end and I needed to go to work. I would rise and make her a meal, then leave.
As I inspected projects, wrote specs and prepared drawings, my mind flooded with images of Mel and our almost perfect relationship. But then with stunning torment like a spear out of the sky I would realize my daughter was not with me and how was I going to survive. Mel later told me she was certain I may never come out of this. I would just lie on my bed staring at the ceiling waiting for Devon to call from Hawaii. Every morning, and night this was my wish and the only thing that interrupted that desire was Mel.
If Devon would just call, I would have her home again. The house was empty except for the occasional visits from Brooke, Devo’s best friend. Brooke never told me anything about Devo, she instead would come in go to the fridge get a coke and lay on the couch clicking the channels. Or she would go to Devo’s room, but never did anything untoward by going thru her things. And then for a moment the house would fill up. But with the flutter of angel’s wings she would be gone and my mind would fill again.
From hardship comes enlightenment and to that I say BULLSHIT~!
The weekends were a small vacation from the stresses that were my daughter. There were plenty of things to keep us busy and Mel and I especially loved road trips. One weekend we decided to go with our friends Arturo Villarreal and Keith Caldwell to New Orleans. We booked a room at the Bourbon Orleans.
I spent the entire week finding out what I could about the charming but Sodom and Gomorra like village. The city is named after Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France and Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Prior to that though the French were told they had to populate the area and not just let it sit there. The place was nothing but mosquitos and swamp. No-one wanted to live there, so they sent the dregs of their populace the prostitutes and criminals. After the purchase, the 1809 migration brought 2,731 whites; 3,102 free persons of African descent; and 3,226 enslaved persons of African descent, doubling the city's French-speaking population. The city became 63 percent black in population, a greater proportion than Charleston, South Carolina's 53 percent. Many of these white francophones were deported by officials in Cuba in response to Bonapartist schemes in Spain.
This promised to be a fun place to go .
And it was.
I have always loved the “painted lady” houses, incorporating some of the design into projects I was allowed to offer my services to. And here I was in a place filled with them. You feel every bit of the city’s history as you walk those streets. I had watched Interview With a Vampire, so I was anxious to visit the places shown in the film, and we did, including the doll house where Kirsten killed the proprietor for a doll.
I ate at Café du Monde best known for its café au lait and its French-style beignets. In the New Orleans style, the coffee is blended with chicory .
The Bourbon Orleans was a grand hotel with a rather unsavory past of being a hospital during the civil war and many deaths occurred that probably should not have. It was a convent for a while. And now it is known as the most haunted hotel in New Orleans. And that is saying a lot since the whole damn city is haunted. There is a tale of a woman appearing every night on the widow’s walk allegedly waiting for her husband to return. There is a small room on the top floor and it takes an especially clever person to find it. You take the elevator to what would seem the top floor, then you go to the far back stairwell and you will find another 1 ¾ flight of stairs. You climb those stairs and there is a step down into a charming room. The hotel has it decorated beautifully, but it serves no purpose. During the day it seems harmless enough.
Keith and I decided that night we were going to climb those stars and find the ghost. So that evening Mel, Arturo and I went to Saturday night Mass at the famous St. Louis Cathedral, while Keith, who was feeling a bit out of sorts, stayed in the room. It was then that we found out that Arturo had been in the monastery, but due to the improprieties he witnessed, he left. He would have been a perfect priest and the Catholic religion has lost a wonderful leader of souls.
After we returned from mass we walked the few yards to the hotel, gathered up Keith and went for dinner. Then when we returned Arturo and Mel napped while Keith and I hit the clubs north of Bourbon and Orlean’s street. We were put on a curfew to return by midnight which we fully intended to honor, but first we were going to make a visit to the top floor to entertain a certain young lady. We climbed in the elevator quite soused, giggling and creeping around like some sort of villains. Then we found the stairwell. As we ascended we were clutching each other’s arms to the point that later we would find imprints of each other’s hands. We crept to the room and a shadow crossed the wall. We both almost soiled our panties running screaming down the stairs all the way to the bottom one trying to find their way in front of the other. This continued down the hallway our room as we crashed thru the door.
Mel and Arturo were watching TV.
“Well?” First Mel.
“It’s after midnight” Then Arturo “Did you find the ghost?” .
“We’re pretty sure, but we’re also drunk, so you know…”.
We went to bed, but in the dark I hear Keith “Di, do you want to go try again?” .
“Are you fucking nuts” I whispered back and I turned my face into Mel’s neck grateful I would see morning.
The rest of the trip was exciting as we went to the various places I wanted to see around the city making Mel crazy in the process. She lived in New Orleans at one time, so it was not special for her. She had little patience for things she was not interested and I had to try and abide that.
It was a perfect weekend.
When we returned home, the phone rang. “Mom, I’m sorry” .
By the way IISTG means If It Seems Too Good to be True