XI. I'm gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair

We were never allowed to do laundry on New Year’s Day. The Husband believed that whatever you did on New Year’s Day you would do all year long and that if you did the laundry, you would ‘wash’ someone out of your family that year. Personally, I was okay with that if I got to choose the relative in question. He never saw the humor in that, probably because he knew who I was gunning for. But his silly superstitions ruled the day, no matter how many times I rolled my eyes. So when She rented a truck and moved back from Cincinnati and into her old room on New Year’s Day, he was irate and I was amused. In fact, I may have even done a load of fine hand washables just for spite.

I refer to the nine months She spent in Cincinnati as a very expensive gestation; ten thousand dollars to be exact. At the time I considered it well spent, later it was just one more nail in our financial coffin. If that’s what it took for her rebirth, then so be it. She went to Cincinnati for a boy. As far as I knew, it was always about boys back then. He was a grad student at Xavier; she was a store manager for a leading plus size retailer that just happened to have its home office in Ohio. So when he asked her to follow him, she applied for a transfer, packed her gnomes and left me. There was a truck to rent, deposits to be made, furniture to be bought and rent to be paid. I helped her because I wanted to give her the support I had never had. I wanted to give her choices. I didn’t want her trapped as I had been. Unfortunately, we cannot see into the hearts of men, so there was a truck to rent, a lease to buy out, and a long drive back to Virginia on New Year’s Day. But that’s her story to tell.

That’s how the year began for us, with her a depressed mess in my recliner watching pay per view and scattering tissues on the living room floor. But I was fine then, I didn’t know what was coming. I was placidly going through the motions of the middle class suburban working woman. Apparently I had turned off my radar.

I was a hard core vegan at the time and had undertaken a massive organic gardening project. The Husband and I had a couple hundred non GMO seedlings taking root in my dining room. I considered it the perfect place to begin their life; after a brief trip outside they would end up on my dining room table anyway, most likely with extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground kosher salt.

This was much more than just a few tomato plants and a terracotta pot of basil. It was seven separate gardens of companion plants, well thought out and researched, that would grow us a season’s worth of food. We were so proud of our Christmas Lima beans, our German Johnson tomatoes and the sweet potato shoots that would arrive just in time for a May planting. Of course, we had bitten off more than we could chew but we were willing to make our mistakes and enjoy whatever came to fruition. That was January. In the middle of February the Husband came home from work with the proverbial pink slip and I remember thinking, at least we’ll be able to eat.

I expected him to be depressed. The anger and bitterness surprised me. The economic outlook was bleak, job prospects were few and far between, and I was the only one in the house working. I kept a brave face but I was scared and I resented having to deal with both of their moods after a long day at work. His constant stream of criticism, the both of them arguing over how to load the dishwasher, and coming home to a messy house were just too much for me. It was my turn to get angry.

Many arguments were about keeping the house. I wanted to let it go. He would hear none of it. We were already feeling the keen sting of him working at reduced wages for a year; we had begun to use credit cards to pick up the slack, expecting it all to be temporary. But it wasn’t. He began siphoning off the 401k to make house payments. I disagreed wholeheartedly but I was not being heard. He was out of work for six months and we were in bad shape. So I shut up and found myself a better paying job. And then I found the lump in my breast. But I kept that to myself.

New Year’s Day: moving, depression, arguing and laundry. It turned out to be Ground Hog Day for us. She moved three times that year. All three of us would battle depression. All three of us would argue. And I, the one who did the laundry, would wash my Husband, my sisters, my mother and my Boy out of my life. If you had asked me that first day of January if I had seen any of this coming I would have said of course not. I would have laughed and said, as I had done a hundred times before, there would be no divorce in our house; a death maybe, but no divorce. Oh, how very close we came to that.

I'm sure some of the rift with my family will mend. But words cannot be unsaid, deeds cannot be undone and I may never hold my Boy again. He alone I cared to keep. ~Dazzledgirl

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