Tag Archives: Alcoholism

Lessons Learned, Part 3

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This is Reggie’s story…Part One is here, Part Two is here.

I grabbed my bag and got out to the curb and looked around for Rhia. Ah, there she was, flirting with one  of the baggage guys.  I should have known.  She tossed that long light brown hair of hers over her shoulder and our eyes met.  She grinned a little sheepishly, gave her new friend a little wave goodbye and hurried over to me.

“Reg, I can hardly believe you’re here,” she said in that gorgeous soft drawl of hers.  “You look so different from when I saw you last.  Must be the hair.  I like it longer.”

I pulled her in for a hug.  “And you haven’t changed a bit,” I admonish her.  “Isn’t there anybody left for me to flirt with in this whole state?  What happened to Jimmy, wasn’t that his name?  The guy you were seeing?”  “Oh, hon, bless your heart, that was ages ago,” Rhia laughs.  “I’m free as a bird right now.”  “Well, that makes two of us,” I say as we head toward her little red hybrid.   Rhia smiles at that and nods. “Good, then this week can be just about the two of us catching up.”

I lean back against the headrest as she pulls out of the lot, through the airport and onto the expressway.  We’re heading toward the Beach and for a minute I’m confused and then I remember that Rhia put an offer in on a Virginia Beach townhouse last year.  Before long we’re pulling into a parking space not too far off of Princess Anne, and I’m pleased to see that her building looks really nice.   She’s a couple years younger than me and I’ve always felt protective of her, like a little sister.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me stay with you, Rhia,”  I say, giving her a big hug as we walk into the front room of her place. “This is gorgeous!”  I’m stunned, spinning around to see everything.  She really has done a great job decorating the place.  It’s all soft blues and greens and grays and looks like it’s right out of a fashion magazine.  “Did you make these pieces yourself?”  I cannot believe the artwork on the walls.  I knew she studied art in school, but these are crazy beautiful prints.

“I wanted to show you them before I told you my news,” she says. “I’ve got a showing at one of the galleries on the Boardwalk!  And I sold two prints already, for an obscene amount!  I can hardly believe it myself…”   Rhia’s practically dancing with excitement and I’m so proud of her I could burst.  There’s even a picture of a firefly lit night, exactly like those nights on the porch with me and Bobby and Rhia.  It pulls me in, even though I don’t really want to go there anymore.  I’m not going to ask, I’m not going to…

“How is he, Ree?  I’ve lost touch over the years,” I say quietly.  “Be honest, Reg, you didn’t lose touch with my big brother.  You pulled away, hid away, wouldn’t even answer your phone anymore!”  There’s a vehemence in her voice that catches me by surprise.  I forget that she doesn’t know what really happened between us.

“Ree, I know you think I’m the bad guy here, but he didn’t want me anymore.  He went off to college and that was that.”  “Well, you went off to college, too,” she points out.  “Did you find someone else right away, too — I mean, did you find someone else,” she finishes lamely.  “See?”  I say.  “Sorry I brought it up, let’s just leave that subject alone, okay?  I need to see my mom while I’m here, find out how she’s doing.  See what happened with the dickwad she married.”

“Bobby dated around some, but he never brought a girl home, Reg.  He’s not married,” Rhia says hurriedly.  “I don’t know if he’s dating anyone right now since he moved away.  I’ll be happy to go with to visit your mom if you want.  I remember someone saying she was in rehab and I think she kicked her husband out and divorced him.  You know she felt terrible about what happened.”

“Well, she sure as hell had a funny way of showing it,” I say.  “I told her how he was all touchy-feely, practically molested me that time I came home for Christmas, grabbing my boobs and trying to stick his tongue down my throat when he trapped me in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, no less.”  It makes me feel like gagging just talking about it.   “I tried to tell her what happened, but she didn’t want to hear it.  She actually said I must have done something to encourage him.  God, when your own mother practically calls you a whore, it really, really hurts, you know?”

Rhia hugs me again and sighs.  “I can’t imagine how that feels when it’s your own stepdad.  What an ass he was.   But I heard your mom was going to AA meetings now.”  “Yeah, I know, she called me to apologize.  One of the steps, I guess,” I say bitterly.  Even after all this time it still hurts that she didn’t believe me and I don’t know if I’m ready to forgive and forget yet.  But she’s my mom and I still miss her.  I’ll call her tomorrow…

~Diane D.

I wish that I could run again through fields of fireflies
And childhood Dreams of Skies
Of stars and moons with those who’ve passed but loved and left so long ago
My friends, I miss those nights of moons and fireflies…with you……..

(Reggie’s childhood was inspired by Rob at The V Pub and his song, Fireflies.  That’s the outro in the paragraph up above, and you can find all the lyrics here.  Thanks, Rob, for letting me link up!)

Photo found on browsedeviantart.com through Pinterest

Lessons Learned, Part 2

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This is Reggies’s story…Part One is here.  

See that picture?  That’s what most people think of when they think of Virginia Beach.  And part of the Tidewater area does look like that touristy ocean scene, the statue of Neptune, the boardwalk.  At Christmas you can drive your car on the boardwalk and there’s miles and miles of lighted aquatic themed sculptures.  It’s gorgeous, even if fish and dolphins don’t scream Christmas for you.

But that’s not where I grew up.  Sure, I’ve been to the beach, especially when I was older.  But I grew up in Newport News — yeah, the same place where pit bull-owning, NFL quarterback Michael Vick grew up.   Near the shipyards because my dad was Navy and worked there.  That’s what my mom always said, though I didn’t know him because he never married my mom and he didn’t hang around long after I was born.  But most people don’t know where Newport News is anyway, so I just say I’m from Virginia Beach.

The only guy I ever called Dad was my mom’s first husband, Tom, and I think he married her when I was about two or three.  He was a nice guy and was good to me and mom, but he was Navy, too.  One day we stood at the docks waving goodbye to him and crying as he shipped out to the Middle East.  That was the last time I saw him, waving to us in his desert camos, because he never came back.   He never came back to me and mom because a sniper’s bullet took him out.  And that’s when my mom started having a drink or two just to get through the nights.  It wasn’t out of control or anything, she still worked and I still stayed with the nice old lady next door, Mrs. Boyd, while my mom was gone.

We were okay for awhile, but then I was about ten and old Mrs. Boyd moved away, I think in with one of her kids.  We couldn’t afford a sitter, so I was a latchkey kid.  I was getting off the bus and letting myself in, starting dinner, doing homework.  I was always kind of old for my age anyway.  So when mom got home and had a beer or two or three, it was fine cause I handled stuff.  And she was never really drunk, just happy instead of crying all the time.

When I was in middle school, she got a different job making more money and met a guy at work and she started dating.  And then they both were partying and drinking more and smoking some dope and I’m not really sure what all else.  He became stepdaddy number two.

If it weren’t for a few friends at school, I have a feeling I’d have ended up just like my mom.  But my best friend at school since fourth grade was Bobby Williams.  We were in the same class and he was smart and nice and asked if I could come over and hang out.  And from that moment on, we were just best friends.  Even though there were some other kids who hung out with us from time to time, Bobby was my best friend.  I spent a lot of time at his house and lots of times Mrs. Williams would ask if I could stay and have dinner with them.  I just thought she was nice, but later I figured out that she knew how my mom was and felt sorry for me, too.

Some of my best childhood memories are of hanging out on the Williams’ front porch, drinking sweet tea and catching fireflies in the summer when school was out.  We’d lay on our backs and look up at the moon and stars and just let ourselves dream.  Sometimes in the summer I stayed overnight and shared Bobby’s sister’s room.  I always had to call and ask my mom if she needed me to come home or if it was okay to stay.   It was always okay.  It got so I usually had pajamas and jeans and t-shirts at the Williams’ house anyway, so it was easy to stay.

All this went through my mind as I was sitting on the Southwest flight to Virginia Beach.  It’s less than a two hour flight from Chicago and I didn’t really feel like reading so I just sat and let the memories wash over me.  I must have drifted off a little, because the next thing I knew we were bumping down gently after circling over Chesapeake Bay and coming in for our landing.  I got my carry on bag down and made my way to baggage claim, turning my phone back on as I deplaned.  It vibrated a little and I saw Rhia Williams’ name come up. Rhiannon is Bobby’s sister and she and I are still friends after all this time.  Yeah, their parents really liked Fleetwood Mac.

I’m outside waiting.   Can’t wait to see you, Reggie!

Me, either,  I typed.  Are you in the garage or by the lot?

On the street by the lot.

Be there in a few.

🙂

My bag came up soon and I moved quickly through the airport, anxious to see Rhia.  It had been a few years since I’d been home.

~Diane D.                                                                 Photo credit: Pinterest

Lessons Learned…

Kindergarten teacher sitting with children in library

Ms. Regina Brooks, Franklin Elementary, Preschool, 2015-16

Do you remember Jamie’s friend, Reggie,  from Eyes Wide Open?  This is Reggie’s story…

“Well, I know you won’t make me wear some God awful poufy pink or peach thing, so, hell, yes, I’ll be your maid of honor,” I exclaimed when Jamie told me she and Mike were engaged.   She’d called me yesterday and asked if I could meet her for dinner after work today and talk.  I’d been a little afraid she had bad news and they were breaking up, cause this thing with Mike was just a little too fairytale for me.  But, no, they got freakin’ engaged!  I mean, they were neighbors for a year or so, but they’ve only been dating for four months.

So, James and I are at the Village Pub near my apartment and had just ordered wine for her and a Corona for me when she sprang her news. I really am happy for her cause I like Mike, he’s a nice guy. Everybody pretty much likes Mike, he’s just a decent guy and he’s crazy over James, I can tell.  But, geez, married?

“So,” I say, “when are you thinking?  Like next year sometime?” “No, Reg,” she says almost gently, like I’m not too bright, “we don’t want to wait.  I’m 27 and Mike is almost 30 so we’re thinking maybe the end of summer.  How would you feel if we had a destination wedding in Hawaii?”

Well, I’m a preschool teacher for the school district, so the summer ends for me in the middle of August.   And a wedding in Hawaii is going to be a little pricey, not to mention the time to get there and all.  But she’s my best friend, so I’ll work it out somehow.  I can’t bear to even think about missing Jamie’s wedding!

And I know perfectly well how old she is cause Jamie and I were college roommates and are the same age.  At first I feel a little annoyed.   Since when is 27 that old?  But her face is lit up with this beautiful glow and then she puts her left hand on the table and I see the ring.  She wiggles her fingers a little bit with unabashed pride and just sighs as she gazes at the ring under the candlelight at our table.

“That’s gorgeous,” I say, grabbing her hand and pulling it toward me.  There’s a round diamond in the center and lots of diamond baguettes down the sides of the platinum ring, giving it a fragile, old fashioned look which suits Jamie really well.  “It was Mike’s grandmother’s ring,” she says dreamily.  “I wasn’t sure at first, I always thought I’d just want a solitaire, but I really love it,” she says. “I think it’s more me than something too plain, don’t you?”  “I do,” I say, then start giggling.  “You’ll be the one saying that pretty soon!”

We both laugh and then the waiter is bringing our chicken salads and we dig in.  I, for one, am starving, because I haven’t eaten since lunchtime which for me was 11:30.  The salads are pretty good and the beer really helped me relax after a day of talking about the weather and singing songs and teaching very basic Spanish to a group of three and four-year-olds.  Don’t get me wrong, I love working with my little kiddos, I just love leaving work, too!

“So, Reg, how are things going with you?” Jamie asks.  “We haven’t talked about you at all.”  I nod, signalling the waiter that we need another round.  “I’m good,” I  say. “Not a lot going on right now, just work.  But I have a good group this year, not too many criers. Remember that little Brittany from last year, the one who cried when her shoes came untied, cried when she couldn’t zip her coat, cried when she couldn’t get her mittens on?”

“I do,” Jamie smirks and I roll my eyes just a little.  “Well, she finally learned to zip her coat but, of course, she’s not in my room anymore. And today this little cutie, Ella, asked me if my mom fixed my hair this morning,” I say laughing, touching my hair to make sure the blonde strands are still tucked into my French braid.

Spring break is starting right after Easter and I cannot wait.  A little break from the school routine is what I really need and I’ve got a ticket to go to  Virginia Beach to see some old friends and, of course, my mom.  Provided that she’s still sober.   The waiter brings our second round of drinks and suddenly my Corona doesn’t seem as appealing as it did a few minutes ago.   I never want to feel like I need to drink just to get through the day.   I’ve seen enough of that to last me a lifetime.  I’ve lived enough of that to last me a lifetime.

Jamie’s looking at me strangely and I realize she’s asked me a question and is waiting for an answer.  “Sorry, I must have zoned out, ” I say, taking a sip before pushing the bottle away.  “What were you saying?”  Jamie starts again.  “I said we’re asking my brothers and their wives to stand up along with you and Mike’s old friend from school, Rob, who will be the best man.”  Well, cool, I’m standing up with Mike’s friend, so he’s probably a nice guy.

“So, James,” I say, “what kind of a wedding is this gonna be?  Big and fancy, big dress, all that?”  “Oh, God, no, just family and a few friends, on the beach in Maui.  Turns out Mike’s family has a timeshare there, can you believe it?   I just want a simple dress, maybe tiny straps, maybe strapless, I don’t know.  Want to go shopping with me and my mom?” Jamie is looking at me anxiously.

Of course I tell her, sure, I’d love it and then I tell her I’m going to see my mom over spring break.  She’s worried, I can tell, because I hardly ever went home when we were in college and spent a lot of holiday breaks with Jamie’s family.  I even did my student teaching in the Chicago area because there was no reason to go back to the Beach for me.  Back then Mom was on stepdaddy number 2, I think, or number 3, I can’t remember, but he was a dickwad and I put as much space between me and his roving hands as possible.   And when everything hit the fan that last Christmas I was home, I’d told Mom if she stayed with the dickwad, I wouldn’t be back.

So I pull my thoughts together and we talk some more about dresses and the wedding and how the beaches aren’t totally private but it should be okay for a ceremony.  They think they’ll just do a luau for the reception cause there won’t be that many of us anyway for a regular reception.  Then she and Mike can stay on for an extended honeymoon and the rest of us will deal with the jet lag and get back to work in a few days.  But, Hawaii, wow, it should be beautiful.  And romantic.  Too bad I’ll be there by myself, but, still, a mini-vacation in paradise will be fun.

To be continued…

~ Diane D.                                                                    Photo credit: Pinterest