A Blessing in Disguise
I’ll Set You Free
My Little Chirping Heart
Go Now From Tree To Tree
Explore and If You Find
I Hope You Return
With Your Family
In Tow To Meet
Running From Ambiguity
Of An Illusive Destiny
The Rain On Her Skin Cleansing
Now Her Cluttered Heart Mending
To A New Destiny
Let Me Dream
Of The Very
You May Wish Of
With A Kind Heart
And A Gentle Touch
In Her Radiant Heart
He Found The Safe Haven
For His Heart
Washed Over Him
& He Was Taken
Whether Knowing Or Not
That’s What We Do
We Leave It To Chances
To A Randomness
Not Everything Is Planned
Most Of All Love
Lorie knew in her heart she would eventually go to college. She had previously reached a pivotal point in her life where a crucial decision was made to get started and proceed with sheer determination, confidence, and perseverance. She had taken her GED and passed with flying colors. She tested and applied for work with state government.
Lorie was convinced that her succession of life would lead to college. However, she didn’t have any money, so college would lay on the wingspan of her determination. She had to save money and registered to take six to nine credit hours immediately.
Lorie was already qualified for typing and clerical work so applied for all positions available. Testing with high scores gave her the opportunity to find work immediately. There were a number of places which had shown interest.
She chose to work as an administrative receptionist for the Department of Health and Social Services (HSSD). Her first supervisor, Mida, had asked, ‘Do you speak Spanish?’ Lorie had answered, ‘Absolutely, fluently!’ Lorie never forgot Mida’s professionalism and her elegant appearance.
When Lorie had proudly accepted the job, she became the main receptionist and had to direct calls to various agencies. It was absolutely necessary that she speak Spanish for callers who could not converse in any other language since New Mexico was a Spanish speaking state.
On one occasion Mida asked, “Lorie, could you prepare this for Fernando ASAP?”
“Absolutely, no problem.
“Good morning Health and Social Services Department. How may I help you? Yes, sir. This is Lorie speaking. I will give him the message immediately. Have a nice day.”
Lorie bought a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit. It was the first car she’d owned and financed; a used car, but to her it was new and cute. She raced back and forth to work and home in her yellow car. She was a dark brown dot on the moving sun, feeling happy. She registered for the college classes envisioning her college transcript growing by each semester. This would be her foundation to educate herself and eventually get her degree. She took Accounting 1, Marketing, and Business Administration.
When Lorie started her job she realized she was working for a number of highly educated people. There were lawyers, administrators, heads of agencies, and most importantly, the head of the HSSD, Fernando C De Baca. She was young but immediately proved that she could answer and direct calls to the appropriate agencies accurately and efficiently. This impressed Mida a great deal and she came to rely on Lorie without any reservations. Lorie displayed integrity and efficiency to do her job correctly. There was also Mr. Aaron Bond, a man in his sixties with an English accent, who fascinated her. He was mild-mannered and sweet, always greeting with a smile saying ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Day’ or ‘Good Evening’. Mr. Bond was joyful and charismatic.
Well Mr. Bond
I Had Written
In Chapter 5
The Impression Of Your Integrity
Is In My Book
Good Day Mr. Bond
“I suspect you might be very old or passed to the other side of this life. But Mr. Bond, you shall now remain eternally in my book and in the minds that read this. “Good Day, Mr. Bond.”
Then with my flare for acting, I picked up on Mr. Bond’s English accent which I think he found quite intriguing. It was only with him that my passion for the English accent would take over me and I couldn’t speak in my usual way. Later, I would find this to be an asset in future endeavors I pursued or when trying to impress whoever came my way. Just about everybody. Lol
Another person who made an impression on Lorie was Ron Britton; he had a beautiful wife and a new baby girl. They reminded her of Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in “Barefoot in The Park”. He had boyish charm looks like Robert Redford. He’s wife’s was pretty and happy with the baby when they came to visit Ron Britton.
Lorie knew this was the place to be and began soaring, flying like a little bird from branch to branch chirping happily. She was given the responsibility to calculate and type all the travel vouchers for reimbursement. Mida was impressed by her accuracy and validation checking. These were quickly submitted for reimbursement purposes.
Lorie met a nice girl named Elizabeth; she was a data processing programmer. Punched cards were used to communicate with the first programmable computers. It was then state of the art technology. At home, Lorie spent her time with Cher’rie who was Caucasian and had a hint of a southern accent. It wasn’t long before Lorie picked up her accent as well. Both Cherie and Lorie were left handed which they believed made them unique and special. Lorie also believed that Cher’rie could have been an actress. Lorie discovered that she was actually ambidextrous; she ironed clothes with her right hand, later in years played tennis from her right position, played soft ball from the right position. She cleaned with her right hand, but wrote, painted and cooked with her left. She had a well balanced mind as far as she was concerned.
With Lorie officially working for state government and in college part-time, there was little to complain about. Nick and Janis, for the most part, were satisfied with her work ethic and the position she held. They had a few friends whom they invited over to visit one weekend. The woman was very open and gregarious and she liked Lorie. She said, “I have a brother who is a CPA and works for Pete, Marwick, and Mitchell Company”. The company name was apparently to impress Lorie and to some extent it did. It was an international company of certified public accountants. She introduced us.
Lorie was sixteen and a half when she met Anthony. He was tall, smart and handsome. He was twenty-four and seemed very impressed with her personality. He took her to the fanciest restaurant in downtown Santa Fe, The Steaksmith. He ordered escargot and lobster for the two of them. Lorie was hungry and had a great palate; there was none of the earlier gagging with Nick at the age of four looking for a place to hide her food. The escargot and lobster were sumptuous, dipped in warm butter and served with fresh bread. He was delighted that she liked the food he had chosen. Lorie even had a glass of wine and wasn’t carded. She tried to appear very worldly holding the glass at the stem with a little pretense, bringing it to her lips, swirling then sipping. It was the actress in her getting into character. After all, she wanted to continue to amaze. She’d gone out of her way to buy a beautiful black dress with a rose pattern and pumps that strapped around her ankles. Just a little sex appeal. It is common knowledge what high heels with straps around the ankle do to a woman’s legs, not to mention the man she wants to impress. Her hair was long and shiny and she wore just enough makeup to look pretty.
They got along quite well together. He described his job to her and she said, “It’s important to like your job.” He agreed. They started dating and it became more and more amorous and heated between them at his upscale new apartment.
Lorie didn’t feel entirely comfortable because she was trying to protect her reputation. One evening he professed his love for her but she had her reservations about going all the way. He said, “Don’t worry, Lorie. I love you and we will get married.” Eventually she gave in and that was her first time. Afterward she felt different; like she’d just crossed a major threshold and wasn’t quite sure she was ready for that. She wasn’t.
Three months passed and Cher’rie came to visit over the weekend and picked up Lorie to go eat at Dandy Burgers. Lorie ordered a green chili cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla milk shake. She ate as if it was her last meal. Then got sick. She ran to the bathroom and threw up. Cher’rie was there with a puzzled look on her face.
Cherie asked, “Lorie, are you pregnant?” Pregnant? Me? She continued, “Have you had your menstrual cycle?” Lorie confirmed she was late. Cher’rie said, “We need to go to the clinic and find out if you are.”
Of course Lorie wasn’t very excited about this but Cherie insisted. She was right, what choice did Lorie have. They went immediately and a urine sample was taken to confirm whether or not Lorie was pregnant. Neither of them could believe it. Cher’rie said, “If anyone should be pregnant, it should be me.” She was dating Sammy. She was in love with Sammy. He was the ‘biggest bad dude’ with a reputation from Chimayo and a lady’s man.
Lorie didn’t say a word to anyone about being pregnant. No one. But she was tired all the time. She slept more and more. Then Janis put two and two together and asked her. Lorie said yes. But she hadn’t said anything to Anthony. That weekend she told him. He started behaving differently immediately; distancing himself from her. She knew then he would break his promise to her. This didn’t sit well with her. The thought of having a baby by herself was a hard pill to swallow. He was acting like a child, as if he was going to have the baby. She returned the lack of empathy with coldness toward him. After all, she was the one who was pregnant, not him! Then she got down to business. She wanted to know exactly where they stood regarding her pregnancy. She invited him over to discuss the matter privately and asked him,
“What is your position?” she sounded like she was entering into negotiations with the Ambassador of Iran. “What do you feel you can do?”
He replied, “I can’t do very much for you except give you money for an abortion.” That infuriated Lorie!
She said to him, “Anthony, you can keep your money. I will have this baby and then I will contact you through an attorney. Now get out.”
Technically, he could have been charged with rape of a minor, but Lorie didn’t know that then and felt that she had contributed equally.
Lorie had been saving money. She was always good with money. It had to do with the work ethic her grandmother, Janis and Nick had taught her. But what about Nick? Eventually he would find out. She started planning. She would continue to work until the last-minute, continue with classes and save to get a small apartment in Santa Fe. She knew Nick would be furious but she wasn’t going to let him touch her, even if that meant calling the police or threatening him with a gun. She was prepared. But word of mouth travels fast. Suddenly the truth was out in the open and he was going to challenge her.
Lorie was already home when he walked in obviously quite upset. She could tell by his demeanor. She’d known this man for more than fourteen years and she knew he was furious. She gave it right back to him; her evil eye. He said that he’d heard a rumor at work about her. Then he said in Spanish,
“Que La Lorie Esta embarasatha del Anthony.”
“Supposedly Lorie is pregnant from Anthony.”
“Yes,” she said. The color changed on his face. His temper was rising and he looked flushed. To Lorie’s surprise, he hadn’t been drinking. He stomped a few times like a Spanish bull. She stood next to the front closet where she knew the 20/20 was already loaded; she made sure she was near it. He wasn’t kidding but neither was she. He ranted and raved about his reputation and then hers. The whole world knew and he didn’t. Well no shit Nick. How was I supposed to say to you, “And by the way dear old stepfather, I’m pregnant.”
That was all Lorie ever was to him; she was a stepdaughter whom he never wanted from the beginning. She told him,
“I’ve saved money and I am going to have this baby.”
He ranted some more and told her she was unable to accomplish anything with her life. She had proved him wrong before and would definitely prove him wrong again. As soon as she’d felt the life growing inside her, she knew she had to go to college and get her degree for both of them. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. Happily, the matter between Lorie and Nick was settled without physical abuse. She was determined not to let him touch her with a precious child growing inside her. She knew she would have shot him.
Nick didn’t throw her out as she’d expected. Once the nausea went away, she was strong but still pregnant. She ordered a beautiful baby crib and brought it home; Nick didn’t offer to help her bring it into the house. She had to do that herself, fussing and dragging the box to her room. Nick was being spiteful. Then he decided to stain his wooden gate and asked Lorie to help. Stain has a very strong odor and is toxic. She did as much as she could before going inside, deciding that no toxin was going to contaminate the beautiful baby she was carrying.
During her pregnancy someone had asked her out, but she politely declined after having a little laugh to herself. She didn’t want any boyfriends after experiencing Anthony’s behavior. He and Nick weren’t the epitome of understanding and loving men which left Lorie disliking men in general. Someone had once told her that men are idiots and as far as she was concerned, this was proving to be true.
On a Monday morning at work Lorie was very busy, a gentleman called speaking in Spanish asking for one of the agencies that provided health and social services. He sounded like a little old man and he spoke quietly. When he asked the question Lorie said,
“Senor, yo no mas soy respiracion pero uno minuto y puedo a conectar la oficina que puede ayudar.”
He immediately replied with a question, “Que, Como La respiracion? Como La respiracion?”
His response was louder the second time asking “What is the respiration?”
She suddenly realized what she’d said in Spanish. It shouldn’t have been respiracion for respiration. It should have been recepcionista for receptionist. Due to the fact that she was beginning to show and her body was changing, she was probably a little flustered that day.
She corrected herself with, “Senor, yo no mas soy receptionista pero uno minuto y puedo a conectar la oficina que puede ayudar”.
I wasn’t always perfect in my translations. The poor thing, I had him terribly confused.
Life is ironic. Lorie was the first person people would greet from HSSD and it had a Children’s Support Bureau where assistance was provided to young mothers like her having a baby ‘out of wedlock’. She was representing that Department; pregnant and ‘out of wedlock’. Though she did apply for an indigent fund that would help with hospital and doctor bills.
Santa Fe was predominantly Spanish, but when the artists and gallery owners started arriving it changed Santa Fe significantly. A good number of ‘well to do’ people started building their second homes in the Land of Enchantment in Santa Fe. Next to Albuquerque, it was the second biggest city in New Mexico. The towns around Santa Fe like Espanola, Barranco, and El Rito to the north and Pecos and Las Vegas to the east were also predominantly Spanish-speaking towns. In the middle of all this was Los Alamos where Los Alamos National Laboratory was founded and built. The first nuclear bomb was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was one of the biggest employers in northern New Mexico and still is. The city was predominantly Caucasian with a good number of PhDs. Espanola was predominantly Spanish. Near Espanola was Chimayo which made its mark nationally in Forbes Magazine only because, per capita, the town had a severe problem with heroin substance abuse. The problem had been there for thirty-five years and continued to grow into an even bigger problem. Somehow, the small town had sustained itself despite its reputation for heroin sales and use. A great many young people had overdosed and been killed in Chimayo. It remained a wonder that the state and local police had been unable to suppress, or even try to eradicate, the insidious and continual problem. It seemed obvious that someone was being protected.
During Lorie’s pregnancy, a lot of things changed including her body. But she didn’t gain much weight; twenty-six pounds during the nine months. Walking with her friend Elizabeth to eat lunch in downtown Santa Fe was a treat. Other times, they’d take their brown bag sandwiches and watch the pigeons pecking for crumbs. One of her favorite restaurants was in the La Fonda Hotel. Every time she ate there, she ordered the Crab Louie salad with the Louie dressing on the side.
Santa Fe had a Woolworths which was famous for its Spanish Frito Pies with red chili. If for no other reason it was essential to visit Santa Fe for the best red and green chili. The skies were phenomenal, with white fluffy clouds into which one can escape. There was a richness in culture and museums, art galleries, wonderful Spanish restaurants, hiking and beautiful mountains overlooking the city. It had an ambiance all to itself.
By Lorie’s ninth month she was only slightly bigger. She could still get away with wearing larger shirts and comfortable slacks. It looked like she had just gained some weight. She did have to explain her situation to Mida though. She looked sad and disappointed; when it became common knowledge everyone else in the office looked sad for her too. Mr. Bond encouraged her and said “Lorie, you must go to college; I have no doubt you’ll make something of yourself someday.”
Lorie was happy during her pregnancy and looked forward to having her baby; she’d had a dream that it was a boy with hazel green eyes. On Monday, June 13th, at almost nine months, her water broke and she decided to eat a big breakfast. When she called her doctor he told her to check in at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe. She wasn’t in any uncomfortable pain. Janis was there for support and Lorie was grateful. It was obvious that Janis was anxious to see her first grandchild. Lorie started going into labor at about nine o’clock that evening. Could she have used a Lamaze class and learned how to breathe? Yes, of course, that would have helped tremendously. Could Anthony have been there just for moral support? Absolutely, but that was wishful thinking. It was never going to happen.
By midnight, she was in pain and made a declaration; a promise that this would be her first and only child. At almost two o’clock in the morning of June 14th, Aaron was born and Janis was as ecstatic as she was. When Aaron was born Lorie cried. Nick had come by earlier in the evening. They were both uncomfortable with each other. She was always happy when he left. She decided she was going to get an apartment in Santa Fe and do the best she could. When that beautiful baby boy came into her life she was seventeen and a half and he did have hazel eyes. Beautiful eyes. Still in the hospital she was so excited with him she got out of bed and changed him immediately. He wasn’t wet but she had to make sure. He was beautiful.
Lorie shared a hospital room with a young Native American girl whose boy weighed eleven pounds, six ounces while Aaron weighed seven pounds, six ounces and he was chubby. Lorie ate seven watermelons during her pregnancy, maybe more. The new babies were brought to their mothers and they proceeded to breast feed. Lorie noticed that her roommate had no problem breast feeding, and her child latched on to her with no fuss while she and Aaron were still trying to get it right. During the evening she wandered to the baby nursery to take a look at Aaron. He was beautiful and then she noticed she was alone. That made her sad but she had a lot to look forward to with Aaron and everything would change in the most beautiful way.
Janis was excited, but Nick started changing before her eyes. He said to Janis how is Lorie going to take care of a baby all by herself. When she and Aaron arrived home the crib was up in her bedroom and she realized that this was something they wanted to do. They had lost a baby girl, Janis had carried to full term, but it was a still birth. The cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck and she choked and died. Lorie understand their sadness. She missed not knowing her baby sister. Nick had cried once after drinking and Janis seemed to get on with life as if nothing had happened. But how could this be? She must surely have been sad. They’d had everything ready for the child they lost; the bottles, a crib, basinet, and all the other pre-requisites for a newborn.
Aaron was there and healthy. Lorie found a great day sitter; it was a perfect situation. The nanny was a stay at home mother with a four year old little girl and she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant again. Lorie tried using cloth diapers but switched to Pampers. She bought babies clothing, baby food, bottles, milk (formula) and numerous other baby items. Like whimsical fairies, Nick and Janis would sneak in and scoop up Aaron and take him to their bedroom. Lorie heard a lot of laughter and joy coming from that room and realized how much happiness Aaron brought all of them. He was a blessing to their lives. I love you Aaron.
With Nick making a three hundred and sixty degree turn around, he changed all for the good. As far as he was concerned Lorie had performed a miracle like the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus except that hers wasn’t an immaculate conception. However, Nick didn’t stop his drinking and that would unfortunately affect Aaron, but mostly in a good way because Mike shared his pain about being an alcoholic with Aaron. He said to Aaron, “Don’t ever drink like I do”.
It seemed Nick and Janis were a lot happier. Nick treated Aaron as his own and loved having Aaron by his side in the garden. He gave Aaron the freedom just as Lorie’s grandfather had given her in Barranco. Mike simply enjoyed Aaron, letting him splash in mud puddles, wearing snow suits to play in the snow and getting him to pose for photographs. Nick took more pictures of Aaron than he did of Miguel and Lorie put together. Nick took Aaron to his father’s ranch and took pictures of Aaron on a pony. Oh, I have to remember to include one in this book. You’ll see how adorable Aaron was.
When Aaron came into the family Lorie’s brother, Miguel, seemed to have all the limelight taken away from him. It appeared to Lorie that even after Miguel was born, she still had the spotlight on her most of the time. Miguel was definitely learning the pains of growing up through her experiences.
Did Nick and I finally make peace? Sort of. We did on and off. Janis and I started having the time of our lives more as friends than mother and daughter.
At this very moment I see the love, the forgiveness on my part. I just took a deep breath and released all the past, only to look forward to the future. And here again, one more time editing this book. I feel the peace and blessing. More laughter permeated the home. Aaron just has this wonderful side to him that he makes the funniest comments and then he waits for me to react.
This isn’t the end by no means. It’s only Chapter 5.
But now Aaron is here and I went for it with all the perseverance, discipline, and dedication to get that degree. Aaron was a blessing in disguise. And Mr. Bond, I named Aaron after you. I thought it was a noble name, unique and strong.
Thank you Mr. Bond. Thank you Mida. Thank you Universe for everything.
Stepping Up To The Plate
I Was Your Whirlwind
While You Remained My Rock
It Was A Dizzying
Succession Of Moments
Is Our Secret
During my pregnancy leave I started to get ‘antsy’. The intended two-month leave became just one. I had money saved but I wasn’t bringing in a check during my leave. My mind was going forward with planning our future; mine and Aaron’s.
I did three things while I continued to work. First, was to find a good nanny for Aaron. Secondly, I joined a carpool to save more money. Lastly, I started taking nine credit hours of college classes focusing on a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
I was working full-time while taking nine credit hours a week. I was attaining A’s and B’s. I was building my confidence to quit work and go full-time. But I wasn’t quite convinced I would get the business degree. I saved enough money to pay tuition, the sitter and to have a decent car for going back and forth to college full-time.
I had worked at various state agency departments. I was a Secretary 3 when I left state government to pursue my degree full-time. I had two options. The first was to choose the College of Santa Fe which was very expensive but closer to home with seventy miles round trip commute. Janis offered to take care of Aaron while I was in school. The second option was to go to New Mexico State University (NMSU). It was less expensive and I would live in a dorm or an apartment three hundred and fifty miles away from Aaron who would stay with Nick and Janis. The thought made me cringe. Being that far away for so long would mean I’d never be able to bond with my son. At least making the right choice, he would know and understand that I was his mother. I would often said to him, “Aaron, this is your mother.” I was always proud of that title.
I chose option one. I didn’t want to be away from Aaron and the idea of going to a private college seemed more appealing. I knew the higher my GPA in college, the faster I would get a job after graduating. I applied for a BEOG grant and a student loan to pay for her first semester’s tuition. No state government bonds were bought and saved for my educations by Nick and Janis as they had saved for Miguel. Perhaps I’m becoming redundant with this small fact that separated me my entire life.
I turned in my letter of resignation and enrolled at the College of Santa Fe. I had transferred twenty-one credit hours I had accumulated while working to the College of Santa Fe. I was that much closer to earning my degree. I attained three A’s and one B. At that point, I was able to apply for scholarships added to the BEOG grants I would receive.
I worked tirelessly to keep up with my GPA and spent a great deal of time at the college library. I had a very close friends and if I needed a break I would join her and her husband, with other friends to blow off some steam at the El Toro night club. I loved to dance. At the age of eleven I would practice as a ballerina extending my long legs as high as they would go. At the age of three I would dance to the radio on the back seat of Nick and Janis’s car. Since I was a little girl was always excited about life.
Everything seemed to be brighter for Aaron and I pointing to a new future. But you always pay a price in one way or another. I spent all my time at the library to maintain a 3.8 GPA to receive my scholarships each semester. Therefore, I wasn’t spending the time with Aaron to bond as mother and son. Aaron was the love and joy that Nick and Janis could experience and maybe the very reason to continue as husband and wife. While they could focus on him there seemed to be less conflict between them. It was evident how much they enjoyed Aaron. They were older and more understanding as grandparents not repeating their past mistakes they made with Miguel and I.
The mistakes of generations come full circle to bite you. I never bonded with Nick and Janis as I did with my grandparents. Now Aaron would only bond with Nick and Janis. I would pay a dear price with my son that would live with me permanently. There was no changing this fact or pretending and convincing myself it didn’t exist. I won’t lie.
After the first semester, I set my sights on a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math. I read in a career magazine that ranked the highest paying jobs with technical degrees. There it was the holy grail to convince me. Several of my professors especially Bother Bob fully encouraged me to set my sights on something higher. I took all the math Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Calculus 1,2,3 etc. Computer Science involved Basic 1, Assembler, Pascal, Fortran, Cobol 1,2,3 etc. And of course, the prerequisites that were standard. I enjoyed the Philosophy and English classes. The College of Santa Fe had established itself in offering one of the best degrees in theater acting in the Southwest. I took advantage of this and took a few elective classes. I watched all those students working towards their Bachelor of Arts in Theater and it was a dream that I had. But I had Aaron and myself to think of. I fully enjoyed the math and the computer science classes and I was completely happy I would graduate with this degree.
The math degree included classes in Physics. Brother Evan taught these classes. He was one of the oldest professors. I wasn’t shy to go in and ask for help. One afternoon I knocked at his office door and he was glad to help. We were reviewing one of the physics equations together when he suddenly stopped and closed his eyes. He was completely still. I thought it was one of those moments on candid camera remembering that show. At first I wasn’t alarmed but then 30 seconds went by and I tilted my head to see his face. His eyes were closed. There was complete silence. Then just as if nothing had happened he didn’t skip a beat finishing the equation. I didn’t say anything to him. I walked out happy I had come by to ask for help.
I did try to establish my bond with Aaron. We moved out into a tiny rental not far from Janis and Nick. I managed to take Aaron to Disneyland with Janis, Aunt Amanda, two first cousins; Jen and Nadine and a close friend Tammy. That trip would leave a long lasting impression on our souls and not uplifting to our spirits. You know the term or did I say this, “You don’t know someone until you know what they want from you.” Bunking with six women for a week felt like a year.
It seemed like a really good idea at the time. We all needed a break from our lives, work, school, college etc. There were seven of us including Aaron. We had this brilliant idea to share one room for all seven of us. Yes, I thought it was brilliant and we would save money for extras. We never took into account our mood swings, vices, impatience, and dirt cheap moments. It sounds like a diagnosis, “Oh, You’ve Got Dirt Cheap Nick Syndrome.” I’m sorry but that’s incurable.
We arrived very enthused and excited. We took the shuttle to the rental car location. We rented one car for seven of us. It was a Lincoln Towne car and it was practically brand new. All the luggage fit. Now I’m higher maintenance and I prepare for the worst and the best and bring everything except for the kitchen sink.
I was the designated driver. I was the most qualified since I had the experience of driving in Los Angeles freeway traffic. We were still in high spirits jumping in the car as happy as six women can be together. After all, this was family, right? Everyone fit. Tammy was so excited that she could hardly contain herself giving a thumbs up. We all agreed with our own thumbs up. Of course, I was feeling pretty proud that “I could take care of us in style” ruffling my feathers standing proud like a rooster. Yes, I said rooster not a hen. You heard right the first time.
We drove to the exit booth to verify my information but the lady said to us, “You have the wrong car.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“Yes,” she responded. “Your car is smaller than this.”
I could see all the blood draining from Tammy’s face. I was convinced it was a mistake on their part, but we had to back up and park the car. Someone would drive up with the new car we would ultimately rent. An image flashed through my mind imagining the Flintstones cartoon; all packed like sardines with our feet on the ground racing to get started. When the car arrived everyone in unison said, “Ooh!” with disappointed. I tried to point out it was a Cadillac and more stylish. Just more compact. Janis and I looked at Aunt Amanda and asked, “Do we want to pay the difference for the Towne Car?” Before I could finish the sentence, she said flat out “No!” This was the first symptom of the “Dirt Cheap Nick” diagnosis.
Naturally, we had a harder time fitting the luggage into a smaller trunk. When we got into the car it was a much tighter fit, definitely like sardines in a can. Obviously we weren’t as joyful in the Cadillac as in the Towne car, but we passed the vehicle verification and were off.
I merged into that six car lane traffic like a bus driver with my passengers; very quickly turning into Mario Andretti. I loved speed. It fits so well with my personality. Tammy started getting excited again and Janis and Aunt Amanda were talking in Spanish and English discussing the sights. We decided we would get a bite to eat, turn in early like good tourists to start our day early and go see Disneyland. I think Aaron was excited. I sure hoped he was.
We checked into the Motel 6 and there is a difference between a motel and hotel as I would come to find out in my future career while travelling. I’m getting excited even writing about this. My career and travel that’s a whole new story. It seems wherever I go excitement follows me.
After checking into the motel we opened the door to our room to find that there were only two full size beds and seven of us. That’s right. You do the math; three of us were going to sleep on the floor. And then it hit me, six woman sharing one bathroom. Well, we were going to have to pull off a miracle the next morning. Those who slept on a bed had to part with their pillow and be generous and kind to those who slept on the floor. Well, being generous and kind took a while to get achieve.
I got lucky with the bed and no pillow. Tammy wasn’t contributing to the room and board arrangements so she, of her own volition, opted to sleep on the floor with a pillow. Everyone changed into their pajamas leaving the lacy lingerie for another time. Throughout the whole night, you could hear complaining under everyone’s breath. Sighs of ‘punishment’, ‘got the short end of the stick’, ‘unhappy’, ‘unlucky’. Well, you get the picture. All the sounds you can make incoherently without words.
The next morning rather surprised me. We pulled off the miracle and we were ready for Disneyland. Naturally, some of us were tired. But with the excitement and adrenaline pumping through our veins we were so eager to get there.
Because of my fashion sense I decided to wear a pretty turquoise and white top, white shorts and my new red shoes with a slight heel. Yes, I said “New” not broken in, never worn before. Some of the girls gave me the look, “Is She Crazy?” I insisted on wearing them since my legs were shapely in heels. Every woman knows what I’m talking about as well as the men do.
We purchased our tickets and we were right smack in the middle of Disneyland. We were having the time of their lives. On and off rides, stopping for snacks, catching a bite to eat and recharging. Then I started to develop two bad blisters on the back of my Achilles heels. I suffered in silence for as long as I could.
Mom knowingly asked me, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” I said.
The next ride had a line to wait in. I rejoiced and every chance I had I would slip one foot out of the new shoe and rest it. Then it was obvious, my stupidity and vanity. Nadine was the first to notice and bring it up and make it into an issue.
She said, “You’re in pain in those new shoes.”
Not exactly with a concerned tone in her voice, but ‘Look at you’ and ‘we told you so.’ attitude. I looked at her flat sandals.
Then Nadine said, “I can’t lend you mine. Your feet are bigger than mine.”
I imagined myself as one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. Although size eight is a very common size I am only five feet five inches tall.
I said, “Nadine, I didn’t ask you for your shoes.”
Nadine response was, “Well, you were looking at them.”
I just rolled my eyes and there was an awkward silence until we got on the ride. Then I was a big believer in God because he hadn’t failed me yet, not even with all the abuse and turmoil at times. I just said to myself, “Thank God, we can get on this ride”. It was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. It wiped away all our concerns and the current topic of my blisters. I bought a comfortable pair of thongs along the way and carried the red heels in a plastic bag. I was done looking like a fashionista and more like a normal tourist with common sense.
That night, we were exhausted. Needless to say, none of us were looking forward to playing musical beds. So Mom and I discussed the hard fact.
I said, “Mom, if you and I get our own room with Aaron we can improve this situation.”
“Absolutely,” Janis replied.
So we explained to everyone what we had decided to do. Everybody’s mood turned very joyful except for Aunt Amanda who had more money in the bank then any of us.
“Well, that’s all very well and good, but that means I have to pay for this room all by myself for five days.” she announced.
At this point, Mom said something like, “Amanda, it’s not like you don’t have it in the bank.”
Right there, those were fighting words that would last for years to come. There was nothing Aunt Amanda could do but give in.
That night I had read the travel brochure in the Motel 6 and learned that Sonny Bono had opened his own Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills off Sunset Boulevard. I presented the idea in hopes we could see a few celebrities and eat at a fancy restaurant. Who knew, maybe “Cher” would be there singing next to a grand piano with her piano man.
That morning getting ready was like heaven just Mom, Aaron, and I. We all went to eat and have breakfast. At the restaurant, Mom and I ordered a plate to share and Aaron could order anything he wanted. Of course, ordering one plate for Mom and I appeared to be “Dirt Cheap Like Nick”. The real reason Mom and I always ate less was to maintain our weight and figures. It was true. Our vanity.
We went sightseeing in Beverly Hills. Of course, all our jaws dropped at all the beautiful mansions. We purchased a star tour map and followed the trail to the homes of Raquel Welch, Paul Newman and Joan Woodward, Barbra Streisand, among others. When we stopped at each home, in unison we would say, “Oh Wow”.
We also visited the Hollywood Wax Museum to see all the replicas of celebrities, presidents, the famous and infamous. Suddenly, Tammy gets so excited and she jumps into one of exhibits which had been squared off from tourists like her.
She said to me, “Here take a picture of me and Elvis.” Effortlessly, she jumped over like a deer. Then the alarm went off and we hurried her to get out. She jumped over with such excitement because she had a picture of her and Elvis. I thought to myself, “Thank God, we’re not in Graceland.” But for Tammy that was the icing on the cake.
Finally dinner time arrived and we had reservations at Sonny Bono’s new restaurant. It was a very nice atmosphere with the hostess leading us to our table. Nadine was looking at Jen very persnickety. I thought I heard them say.
“Oh, look at all this, now we have to put on airs in all this pretense.”
We sat down and looked at our menus, Yes, it was pricey especially to Aunt Amanda. The menus were long and elegant with a pretty silk fabric covering; no plastic here. I was just sitting there hiding behind my menu looking at Mom waiting for Aunt Amanda’s comment.
“This is very expensive.” Aunt Amanda said.
Mother looked at me and rolled her eyes.
Then Aunt Amanda asks, “Janis, what are you and Lorie going to share?”
I wanted to burst out laughing. Mom said. “Nothing, we are ordering our own plates. We’re pretty hungry.”
We all made our choices and our waiter took our order. There was fresh warm bread served with either olive oil or butter. Thank God for the bread. Everybody’s blood sugar had dropped. Everyone had glowing remarks about the delicious food in the restaurant. I was thinking they probably had a real Italian chef in the kitchen, working tirelessly. I could hear him with his Italian accent.
“No, no. not like that. This is a presentation as well as it has to taste out of this world. You do it like this. Do you understand?”
We even ordered two tiramisus to share for dessert. Then we asked for our ticket the bill was about one hundred and eighty dollars. The tip would have been thirty-six dollars at twenty percent. Which I’m sure was customary in an upscale restaurant off Sunset Boulevard. Aunt Amanda took out two quarters for the tip for herself, Jen and Nadine’s share. When she should have contributed eight dollars at the very least. I tried to explain the math to her but her opinion was she had already paid more than enough for the meals. So Mom and I paid her share and after that made sure we got separate bills.
Usually we did have some very happy times in our family. I can hear everyone’s distinct laugh and how we relished in all the delicious food prepared for a gathering. Now it’s just a distant memory. Some of my aunts have since passed away. We lost touch due to distance or purposely not calling because someone was mad at somebody else and neither side was going to give in. Sad.
The only thing I would have done differently is to enjoy those times more. Because life changes and now Aunt Amanda is gone as well as Aunt Olivia and their respective husbands. Barranco looks nothing like it once did. Someone in the family purchased it from my aunt Bernadette, the nun. They took down all my grandparent’s old adobe houses.
My grandmother passed away when I was fourteen. I remember when I walked into her hospital room and spoke to her. She tried to smile and I tried to convince her that she would get better and life would continue on. But she passed away. I miss her dearly as I miss all the family gatherings.
Before my grandmother passed on, all the sisters and one brother got together and decided to put her in a rest home. Whenever we visited my grandmother she would complain that she was sharing with a crazy roommate. Apparently this tall old lady would crawl to the end of her bed and then jump off. My grandmother was so upset she had to witness this constantly and probably felt she was in a lunatic asylum instead of a rest home.
I dedicate this chapter to my mother, my aunts and my grandmother. I’m sure they wanted that taste of independence and often thought of what life would have been like with an education.
“A Past” from NatsWritingsMind
©Natalie Keshing, Editor-in-Chief, natswritings.com or nataliekeshing.com