this is another old journal entry, written almost 2 years to the day after the one below. I used to write in my journal in third person, as if I was talking about someone else's life, not mine
They are leaving for Disneyworld in the morning. Not him. He didn't want to go. She is going with the kids and her mother and now the washing machine is broken, filled with dirty clothes and murky water. She leaves the machine like that and he promises to have it fixed when they get back.
She wonders what he will do while they are gone. No, she doesn't wonder. She knows. He will not miss them, he will not think of them, he will not be home when the kids call from the hotel room to shriek about the rides and the shows that filled their day. He will be doing his thing, like he always does, even when they are home.
Disney is crowded with families. Men and women holding hands, carrying babies, smiling as if the sun was shining just for them. They wear matching t-shirts and the men push the strollers and the kids have ice cream running down their chins and no one yells at them.
Everyone is happy in Disneyworld. Her own kids are beaming, bursting with energy from sunrise until way past nighttime, when she carries the little one onto the monorail that runs through their hotel, and he sleeps in her lap unaware that his mommy is plotting to throw his daddy out of the house.
They are on the Star Wars ride for the third time, bumping and jiggling and holding on for dear life and her mother leans over and whispers in her ear. You seem preoccupied, she tells her. I am, she whispers back. She gives her mother a knowing glance and just the way her eyes shift and her shoulder slump and her mouth quivers, her mother knows. She doesn't say anything else but nods. It's a nod of approval.
And then a sunbeam breaks through the cloud hanging over her and makes everything bright and yellow and warm. She has said it without saying it, just acknowledged that it was on her mind and that broke the spell of silence that had been hanging over her for two years, as she plotted and planned her breakout.
For the rest of the trip, she avoids looking at happy, complete families, the ones that come in sets like some Fisher-Price Happy Handsome Family collection; Mom, Dad, smiling kid, smiling baby, matching t-shirts, never an angry word or a tear shed. She has stopped living in the dream where she is part of that collection. She has now become one of the discarded sets found at garage sales; the mom and kid and baby, smiles and daddy missing.
They come home and he picks them up at the airport. He doesn't ask how the trip was, if they had fun, how was breakfast with Winnie the Pooh. He doesn't say a word. Her mother sits in the back of the mini-van with the kids and now she is embarrassed that her mother has to see the silence of their lives. She breaks the ice and asks him how his past week has been. He mutters something about it being nice and pleasant, spitting the words out as if their arrival home had destroyed the balance of his world. She doesn't cry, doesn't get upset, because she has that beam of sunshine slicing through her anger. It's coming, she says to herself. It's coming.
There's that phrase the straw that broke the camel's back. It's always a little thing, something as light as a plastic straw that can bring your house made of glass tumbling down, shattering at your feet. For them, it was the washing machine. It was ten days that the machine sat there, full of soiled clothes and gray water that was starting to smell. She asks him about it, wonders out loud why he didn't have it fixed. He shrugs his shoulders and goes in the bedroom and closes the door, and she goes back out the van and brings the suitcases in. She tucks the kids in bed and then proceeds to empty the water out of the washing machine, a bucket at a time, going from laundry room to the bathtub for each bucket, wanting only to lay down in her own bed and sleep.
And when she is done, she curls up on the couch and smiles to herself. Because this is the last night this fake collection of a family will present itself as whole. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she would tell him.
She remembers the dream she had about the wings. It's time to fly.
written in October 1997