Two weeks ago, my best bud, Jean Luc, asked me to take his precocious five year old daughter, Faith, out for the day. We decided Iâ€™d take her to Disneyland. First, weâ€™d meet up for breakfast, then, Faithie and I would head off for Anaheim, CA. She was so excited about the trip, she woke up early that morning. All through breakfast, she asked, â€˜When are we going to leave?â€™ and â€˜Flo, can we leave now? Please?â€™
As we drove down the 5 freeway towards Orange County, I turned the radio up loud. We sang as many songs as we knew and danced in our seats. One of the songs playing that morning was No Doubtâ€™s, â€œUnderneath It All.â€ Faithie said, â€œI donâ€™t know why, but this song makes me think of my boyfriend.â€ Yes, she has a boyfriend. Itâ€™s cute and completely innocent. I think I was in my mid-twenties before I had a real boyfriend, but thatâ€™s a long story, and not so cute and innocent. But I digressâ€¦Cuddling her stuffed animal, Faithie continued, â€œIâ€™m going to listen to this song and think of my boyfriend. Flo, you can listen to this song, and think of your husband, Endicott.â€
For a split second, I did just that.
you’re really lovely underneath it all
you really love me, underneath it all
I remembered sitting at the kitchen table with Endicott right after I told him I was leaving our marriage. At one point, he said, â€œWe have to talk about your Roth IRA.â€
I immediately stiffened because I knew what he meant. In my most strident I-swear-to-God-I-will-hurt-you-if-you say-what-I-think-youâ€™re-going-to-say voice, I said, â€œWhat about it?â€
â€œWell, half of it is mineâ€¦â€ he tapered off. Iâ€™m sure he was frightened off topic by the red glow of fireballs burning in my eyes.
â€œNo. Those funds are mine. Mine. A gift from you to me.â€ He seemed to want to say more, but didnâ€™t. I continued on my tirade, â€œItâ€™s not like Iâ€™m asking for half of the house, half your retirement or alimony. I just want to take the things I had before we were married, and the gifts I was given during our marriage. Thatâ€™s it. Unless you want to split everything, donâ€™t ask me about my IRA again! I mean it, Endicott, never again.â€
i’m really lucky, underneath it all
you’re really lovely
Four months later, I realized the â€˜settlementâ€™ wasnâ€™t going to be enough. It was Endicottâ€™s turn to be pissed. I held my cell phone away from my ear as he yelled,
â€œAs far as Iâ€™m concerned, Lady, you stole from me! The money in that IRA was for my retirement, and YOU STOLE IT FROM ME! You took OUR engagement ring â€“ it was half mine, Florence — and YOU STOLE IT FROM ME! You are a horrible person! I treated you so well, and you STOLE FROM ME! You are never going to find anyone who will treat you as well as I did! I was going to take care of you when your arthritis got bad and you were a cripple. No one else would do that for you! You threw away a good thing, Lady!â€
I shuddered at the memories. At that moment, driving towards the happiest place on earth, I replayed some of the more miserable moments of my marriage. If I could have erased our seven-year relationship, I would have done it — in a freaking heartbeat.
I checked the rear view mirror. Faithie sang to her stuffed animal, and swayed to the beat of the song. As I watched her, I wished her entire life would be as sweet and filled with love as it was at that moment. I hope she lives her life free of fear, pain, and regrets. I hope she never finds herself wishing she could erase an entire chunk of her history. I only wish that sweet girl the very best life possible.
From now on, thatâ€™ll be my goal for myself: a life free of fear, pain and regrets. How can that not be the best life possible?
2 comments June 21st, 2005