The Way It Was

Bourne Bridge over Cape Cod Canal

“There is only one reason I would ever leave ever you.”

 I explained to my fiancé about my alcoholic parents.  I had had a childhood of bickering, fighting, drunken screams, police, embarrassing situations, and secrets from friends.  No more… I couldn’t bear it.

“If you ever become a drunk, I’ll leave you.”

And that’s the way it was.  Oh, I’m not a prude.  I’m not against wine at meals, a nice cold beer on a hot day, Friday afternoons at the VFW.  But not habitual drunkenness.

And that’s the way it was.  There was one time, however, when I did pack up my bags and leave.  It was B. C.  (Before children).   It was a Friday.  He didn’t come home his usual Friday time.  And when he did come home, he staggered through the door into the bedroom and fell face down onto the bed.  He was stinking drunk!

I screamed.  I cried. 

I couldn’t believe it.  He was just like my father.  How could he turn into such a selfish, weak, booze soaked wretch!

He wasn’t responding.  He was out of it.  What could I do?  I needed to show him how I felt but he wasn’t listening.  I told him I would leave him and that’s what I decided to do.

I packed a suitcase.  Even though we were renting an apartment, we owned a summer cottage down the cape. I thought I’d go down there for the weekend and after a few days, sort things out between us.  Let him stew.

Just before I left, I put the cat and dog in the car.  He wasn’t getting them!

We lived in Hyde Park, at the time, so it was a good hour before I was crossing the Cape Cod Canal.  I cried all the way there.  And it was while crossing the Bourne Bridge when I remembered that we had rented the cottage out that week.  I couldn’t go there. 

 Well!

 I thought I’d stay at a motel and charge it.  Let him pay the bill.

But I had the cat and dog with me.  Damn.

The only other alternative I could think of was to go home to my parents.  No way.  What a predicament!  Before my tears were mostly anger, now I was wallowing in self-pity.  What to do?
My sister’s, that’s what I decided to do.  She had six kids and no room for me, I know, but she’d let me stay.  I knew she would.  The only problem was that she lived in Methuen, which is on the border to New Hampshire.  It was early morning.  I had already driven more than hour to the Cape; here I was driving back an hour to Boston; it would be another hour and a half from Boston to Methuen.  I was tired.  But I was still steamed and all cried out.

By the time I reached Boston, my eyes were burning.  The lids were heavy and it was a struggle to focus. I would never make it to my sister’s.

The car found its way back to Hyde Park.  I was too emotionally wrought to think.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  The dog and cat were glad to be home. The house smelled like a barroom.   I put my suitcase in the closet and followed the stench to the bedroom.

There the drunken sot lay.  He hadn’t moved.  He was oblivious to the emotional hell I had just been through.

And I was too tired to care. And that’s the way it was.


I woke to the sound of vomiting.  He was extremely sick.  His world was spinning.  He was miserable.

I didn’t speak a word.  He was too miserable to notice. 

Actually, I don’t think I knew what to say.  Should I tell him how I spent the night?  For some unknown reason, I decided not to; we weren’t speaking anyway—with me it was deliberate—with him it wasn’t possible.  He was preoccupied with the devil’s revenge.


The next year we were entertaining friends.  The occasion presented itself—the story was told.  My friends laughed at the time I left my husband—for four hours.  (Is that all?)  We all laughed, except for hubby.  I turned to him and said, “You never knew that.  You were too drunk!!!!)  He was silent and his eyes inscrutable.

And that’s the way it was, until months later when we were getting ready for vacation, but I couldn’t find our suitcases. 

“Have you seen our suitcases?”

“Yes.”

“Where are they?”

“I hid them.  I don’t want you to leave me, again.”

And that’s the way it was, is, and always will be.




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