August 13, 2010
(My Life With Pat: December 1991-May 1995)
Begun 9/13/05 Finished 8/11/10I am marking a milestone here on WhenWordsCollide with this blog entry. This is the first one of my "serialized novels and reminiscences" that I've actually finished. (And it only took me five years to do it!) This chapter concludes the story of "My Life With Pat".Individual chapters can be accessed from the chapter titles below.What has gone before: Pat and I get together at our company Christmas party in 1991 and immediately start seeing each other. Ignoring the consternation of my friends, who believe I'm making a dreaded mistake, I move in with Pat and her two kids, 12 and 14. We first live in her two bedroom apartment, and then move to first one, then a second rented home when Pat believes her son Charlie is falling in with a gang element at school. Pat and I are on very different wavelengths, but I'm in love with her, and I want to "save her" by giving her a great life unlike what she has previously experienced. She doesn't really like "domestic life" however, and seems to think I'm "trapping" her at the same time I feel like I'm going through hell. Soon after we move for the last time, she gets a night time job and begins having an affair with her supervisor.
1. Merry Christmas and Hello
2. 2 adults, 2 Kids, 2 bedroom apartment: 2 Close for Comfort
3. Away From the Gangs, Part 1: The First House
4. Away From the Gangs, Part 2: Bellflower and the Second House
5. The Garage
6. The Escape.
Living with my misanthrope was like living moving through the various circles of Hell. The level of "good times" could probably be compared most with being stuck in purgatory. Throughout our relationship Pat would constantly ask me if I were "happy", and I always lied in the affirmative, yet possibly neither of us was ever happy during the three years we spent living together. Prisoners' dreams are always filled with escapes, as are the fever dreams of those condemned to a fiery afterlife. So to my memories of my life with Pat are filled with escapes. Laura escaped the prospect of living with an "uncle Daddy" when Pat announced I would be living with the family by leaving home. Pat needed to escape two of our three rented places because she was afraid of Charlie's friendships with the little brothers of gang members. When I got home from work each evening, I'd try to escape the presence of the quarreling kids fighting over the TV's remote control by burying myself in a book. Before I sold it on her insistence, my '66 Caddy was my escape from our drunken brawls when I would sleep on it's back seat, and it remained a symbol of my eventual escape back to Bob's "frat house" should I ever decide to leave the relationship. I'm positive that's why she wanted me to sell the car. When we were only in the first house in Long Beach, Pat escaped my bedroom by moving into her own. Our yearly trips to Florida were escapes, and of all the time we spent together, those trips really held the only "good times" my abused and damaged mind can remember.
Pat dreamed of escaping the seemingly mundane existence of "normal life", which, from her perspective, was a living hell. She realized her dream when she met the guy who worked as her supervisor at the Policeman's Association. She would escape her relationship with me by spending first a few hours after work, then whole evenings, and subsequently nights away from our home. Finally, when I opened my love blinded eyes and realized what was going on, I took the wondrous opportunity afforded me utilizing her escape from my bed to set the stage for my own escape from the relationship altogether.
The weekly "dates" we spent at the horse track disappeared quite soon after we moved into the house in Bellflower, and after Pat got the job at the Policeman's Association ringing doorbells for charitable contributions, we seemed to drift farther apart than ever before. After we'd lived in Bellflower for about half a year, I hardly saw her at all except for work. We took a trip to the L.A. County Fair one Sunday accompanied by her mother, who clearly noticed the distance between us, even though we were standing right next to each other. Soon after this outing, the outing of Pat's cuckoldry occured.
When one lives a life of constant confrontation, and has spent the better part of almost half a decade attempting to stave off the instant anger and dramatic flareups that can ignite from any source, he becomes complacent and docile, like that overkicked dog, and really doesn't want to incite any unwanted bickering. The last confrontation between Pat and Mike, doomed lovers and mix matched housemates, wasn't as volatile as one would expect given our history together. In fact, the breakup was remarkably peaceful and agreeable. It was a somewhat inglorious, anticlimactic and somewhat silent end to a hideous and stormy time.
I found a "love poem" Pat wrote to her supervisor, with whom she was having the affair. I wasn't looking for "proof" of anything. I was merely trying to find something in our own shared bedroom and saw the note in Pat's handwriting. When I read it, I was more surprised that she was expressing emotion toward somebody at all than whether or not it was directed at me. She always called me "my Michael" and I loved and embraced that term of endearment toward me. But except for the frequent sex in the early part of our relationship before she convinced me to move in with her, she rarely showed any closeness toward me. When she did, it was so infrequent that it was indeed special.
Charlie had already hinted to me that he knew his mother was having an affair. I think in the final stages I was waiting for her to just lay it all on the line. We didn't lie to each other. That was one of the good things in our relationship, and I think my brutal honesty may in fact be one of the many reasons why Pat felt uncomfortable with me in the end. I really can't remember how I confronted her, but we agreed to have a much needed conversation about our future together which took place in the parking lot of one of her favorite parks with me sitting shotgun in her Blazer. Many lunchtimes, we had "escaped" from work together by going to the park, where we would always stay in the car. Pat would nap, and I'd sit in the seat beside her and relax as well. Sometimes I would walk around the park. We ended our relationship not at home, but in this park, sitting together, as if it were just a normal occurance.
I asked her if she were having an affair, and she admitted it right away. I hadn't suspected it had been going on as long as it had. I was upset, but my mind's eye was already seeing my life "post Pat" so I didn't show any undue emotion. Pat was making a rather difficult decision and she knew it. I believe our conversation did include a theme of possible reconciliation, but the little angel on my shoulder and perhaps the little devil were both goading me to just end this NOW.
"You know that I need to end this, Pat." I declared. "You're cheating on me. What possibly made you want to do this. You're always asking me if I'm happy? Does this mean you're not?"
"I've been happy, my Michael" She was showing an emotion other than anger for the first time I could remember. It was as if she knew that she made a mistake, and was about to lose the only solid foundation on which she had ever stood, even though half of her mind felt as if the solid foundation was the floor of a prison. I kept thinking that we were enacting the plots of a lot of those country and western songs we loved to listen to. "But I need a change."
"This is a change alright. You realize that I can't be with you now. And once I leave, that's it. We won't get back together, no matter what happens."
"Well, then we're breaking up." I immediately turned to more mundane things, like the lease on the house, which wasn't up till May, six months hence. "We have a lease till May. I'll be rooming in the garage. I won't sleep in the same bed, especially knowing you've shared it with someone else. I'll look for a place, and I'll be out by my birthday. You can do what you want."
I outlined what my routine was going to be for her for the next six months, since we'd still be sharing the house somewhat. One thing she had been doing, even during the affair, was driving me into and away from work, since we worked at the same place. I'd be going into work on the bus, and I'd be eating alone. She'd have to fend for herself and the kids. On Fridays, I'd pack a kit bag for three days, in an eerie turnabout to the time when I used to do that to bunk with her before I moved in with her, and go to Bob's. I was lucky that the CEO of our workplace lived near Bob, and he would drive me from work to Bob's on Friday evenings, and pick me up on Mondays.
In silence Pat drove me away from the park for the last time. As I got out of the Blazer in the parking lot at work, I told her I'd be taking the bus home, and she could go straight to the Policeman's Association without worrying about me. She was still looking a bit sad, and I really felt bad for her, but as I turned away to approach the entrance to our workplace, I began to smile, and my walk suddenly began to turn into a little trot. I felt ecstatic by the time I boarded the bus to go home to my garage, where I'd had all my stuff since Pat and I had moved into the house in Bellflower.
For the next six months I acted as if I were renting a room in somebody else's house. I rarely went into the main house at all. I did hang out with Charlie a lot. We still enjoyed each other's company. I treated him to some meals in Bellflower restaurants. I walked around Bellflower's main drag. I was going to leave town in a while, but I got to know it well. I took out a membership in the local video store and rented movies to watch while curled up on the daybed with a 13" television in front of me on a table. I let the kids keep watching the 32" TV in the living room. They'd be losing it in a few months anyway.
I still worked at the same place as Pat. We only talked when he had to discuss bills or how our search for new housing was going. One Friday night in December while I was at Bob's, my friend Joel came home from a night out and wanted to go to the bathroom but the light was on as if Bob were in there. He banged on the door, and told Bob to hurry up. After a while, Joel sensed that something was wrong, and he opened the door to find Bob's lifeless body on the bathroom floor, where he'd died of a heart attack. He was only 47. I called Pat the next morning. After all, she knew Bob too, and I had lived with her for the past three years. We commiserated together.
Joel couldn't live in the house he shared with Bob after Bob's relatives began coming out of the woodwork and he was told he had to move so they could fix up the house and sell it. The opportunity just couldn't be passed up. Joel and I looked for and found a nice three bedroom house to rent. I was all packed and out of the house in Bellflower by May 1st, right on schedule.
Pat didn't leave the house in Bellflower for another month. She even called me a few times for advice. She didn't leave the place in good condition, and to save at least some of the deposit money, I went back a month after I moved out and cleaned the place up. I split the deposit with Pat. She owed me a couple thousand dollars on our shared credit card, but I assumed the debt myself, and made a clean break. I held no ill will toward my former lover.
Within three months, she broke up with her new boyfriend. One time, she'd called me to tell me that something needed fixing at her shared apartment with the guy, but he wouldn't fix it. I dutifully went over and did what needed to be done. After she broke up, she was on her own, and moved into a very small apartment back in Bellflower. She'd sold or given away most of the furniture and Southwestern collectibles. She even gave away most of the stuffed bears I used to surprise her with as gifts. Basically, she'd given away the best part of her life.
I bought my first car in almost half a decade, a small red Geo Metro convertible, just big enough for me. I took Pat for a ride in it. We still worked at the same place, but in different buildings, so I really didn't even have to see her if I didn't want to. I even ran some errands for her. After a few weeks, I visited her at her place, and we had sex. It wasn't lovemaking as much as a shared regard for our past together, which of course was still fresh in memory. We talked a lot, finally admitting some of the mistakes we both had made with each other. She asked me if there were a chance we'd get together again. I told her there wasn't. Although I still cared for her, she'd ruined any chance she might have had by cheating on me in the first place.
Without warning, as was her wont, one day at work she announced she was quitting. She met a trucker in a country bar, and he was going to take her to live with him in Virginia. Two weeks later, he got tired of her and kicke her out, causing her to begin looking for a small apartment in a strange state.
Pat eventually moved back to Southern California, and lives pretty far from me, but close to her mother. Some times, without warning, about once every two years, she'll show up at work and come into my office wanting to go to lunch. She still calls me "my Michael." She admits to me that she made the greatest mistake of her life when she decided to have an affair to relieve her perceived boredom. She always asks if we will ever get back together, knowing I remain single. The last time I saw her was right after I and Liz broke up, and I still said that although I enjoy knowing what's going on with her, I will never live with her nor be close to her again as anything but friends.
I'm still friendly with Pat. I still love her immensely, but I will never again suffer the pain I went through during our relationship. Some couples are doomed from the start, and we qualified as one of the most doomed couples in history. The flames have long ago stopped lapping at my midsection. I sometimes wonder if the fact that I've never seriously attempted to live with a lover again is because my experience with Pat ruined me forever.
Love is a bitch.
Posted: August 11, 2010 8:19 PM
EDIT: 8/13/10 6:10p.m. pdt. I am updating the timestamp on this for the last time. I was really hoping for some more feedback. After all, this is the final chapter of my first finished "blognovel" and other chapters have gotten a lot of comments. I'm grateful to my readers who've responded, but hoped for some more feedback before I posted a new entry, since older entries never really seem to be read by anyone. (Except me, when I visit blogs.) Oh well. Enough whining. MFN/ppf