Kumbaya

by Joan Oshatz on March 8, 2010 in A Bad Marriage Is Fattening

music notes

Today is Monday, March 8th, my weigh-in day. I weigh 221 pounds. I have not lost any weight this past week, but the good news is that I haven’t gained any weight either. So my weight has remained the same.

Although you already know that Paul and I got back together in January of 1976, I actually found the exact date that we got back together. This past weekend I was going through one of my many boxes that is filled with my writings from years past, and I found a datebook from 1976. I had written under the date January 19th, “I called Paul at 8:30 A.M. at work and we saw each other that evening. We had not seen each other since December 21st.”

By finding that datebook I felt like I had found a treasure. Now that I’m writing about this period of my life the information is invaluable. So much for Paul always complaining that I was a hoarder.

Today’s entry is what happened before Paul and I got back together.

Between Christmas and New Year’s 1975, while Paul was still in New York visiting his mother, I was curious to see where Paul was living and I just wanted to put to rest a nagging suspicion that had begun forming in the back of my mind that Paul had moved in with another woman.

I knew where Paul had moved, because he had accidently left behind a receipt with his new address on it. I found it when I moved out.

I told Mother about my suspicion and she said she’d come along with me for moral support. As we drove to Paul’s new apartment Mother sang a popular folk song that Peter, Paul and Mary made famous called Kumbaya.

Mother’s voice rang out in perfect pitch.

“Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya”

I joined in and sang off key, because I can’t carry a tune. We continued to sing together in high spirits, Mother on key and me completely off key.

“Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya”

Mother and I were having a jolly time singing until we arrived at Paul’s apartment complex. Then as if on perfect cue we both stopped singing.
I drove around the garage searching for Paul’s car. I knew that he had left his car at the apartment because he always took a taxi to the airport. I drove up the ramp to the upper parking level and I spotted Paul’s beat up old 1968 green Triumph. I parked my car in the empty space next to Paul’s car. Then Mother and I both got out of the car. I walked to the back of Paul’s car and stared at it, then burst into tears.

“Joanie, don’t cry,” Mother said.

“I can’t help it. I love him and I miss him so much.” I gently placed my hand on the trunk of Paul’s car and tenderly caressed it.

“Are you okay?” Mother asked me concerned.

I nodded my head.

“Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come here,” Mother said.

I looked at Mother with tears in my eyes. “I have to know if Paul’s living with someone.”

Mother and I walked down the ramp towards the apartment complex. We arrived at a wrought iron gate. I opened it and Mother and I walked into the apartment complex. It was landscaped with trees and shrubbery. It had a swimming pool with chaise lounges around it.

We walked over to the apartment mailroom. I scanned the glass directory on the wall looking for Paul’s name. When I saw his name my heart froze. I found Paul’s mailbox and bent down to peer through the little slot in his mailbox. It was filled with mail. Seeing Paul’s mailbox filled with mail only made it more hurtful how he had secretly plotted to move out on me.

My eyes welled up with tears.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Mother asked again.

I nodded my head.

Paul’s apartment was directly opposite the mailroom on the ground floor.

Mother and I walked up to Paul’s door. I turned the doorknob. It was locked. I rang the doorbell several times and waited. I wondered if a woman would open the door. If she did what would I say? No one answered the door. Mother and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Mother and I walked around the apartment complex to the back. Each apartment had a small concrete patio. The backside of Paul’s apartment overlooked the immense lawn of the hospital where Paul worked. A barbwire fence separated the hospital from the apartment complex.

Paul’s patio was the fourth patio over from where we were standing. In order to get to Paul’s patio, Mother and I would have to trespass on three patios.

Patio number one was a complete obstacle course. It looked like a junkyard, and the entrance was blocked by two gigantic potted rubber trees. I jumped over the two potted rubber trees and Mother followed me.

We arrived at patio number two. The drapes of patio number two were opened. Mother and I stopped to take a quick glance inside the apartment. Then we hurried on to patio number three. Finally we arrived on Paul’s patio. Both Mother and I were completely out of breath.

“My heart’s pounding! What if someone sees us?” Mother said.

“We’ll say Paul asked us to water his plants.”

“But there are no plants.”

“Oh,” I said looking around at the bare patio.

“Make this fast, I’m getting nervous,” Mother said.

The drapes on the sliding glass door were drawn. There was a second long louver window to the left of the sliding door and those drapes were also drawn.

I tried to open the sliding door. It was locked. I looked down and could see a beige colored carpet inside the door. The drapes were about three inches shorter than the sliding door.

I laid down on my stomach and pressed my face sideways against the glass of the sliding door straining to look inside.

I saw a sparsely furnished apartment with a couch, coffee table and a standing lamp. Opposite the couch was a desk. There were boxes spread about the room like Paul had not yet unpacked.

I was crawling back and forth on my stomach the entire length of the sliding door, trying to take everything in.

I then turned my attention to the louver window. There was a small dirt area under the window, and a small tree was planted there. I crawled on my stomach towards the window and pressed my face sideways against the bottom louver pane. Half of my face was resting in the dirt as I peered in.

I saw a bed, a nightstand with a lamp on top and Paul’s shoes beside the bed.

I had seen enough. I got up and brushed the dirt off me.

“He’s not living with anyone,” I announced to Mother.

“Are you satisfied now?” Mother asked.

I nodded my head.

“Okay, let’s get out of here,” Mother said.

We ran across the other three patios. In my rush to get out I tripped over the potted rubber plant and fell. Luckily for me my hands broke the fall.

I laid on the ground in a complete daze. Mother was horrified. “Are you all right?” she asked.

I just laid there for a moment then I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks.

Mother helped me up. I couldn’t stop laughing all the way back to the car. Mother thought I was hysterical, but she said with a weary smile, “At least it’s better than you crying.”

To tell you the truth, I didn’t know if I was laughing or crying. I was thinking what a humiliating experience this day had been. And yet, I had to know if Paul had moved out on me for another woman.

As we drove out of Paul’s apartment complex Mother began to sing Kumbaya.

“Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya”

I joined in and sang off key with Mother.

“Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya”

It was unspoken between Mother and I: we would never talk about this day.

When we arrived home almost at dinnertime and I parked the car in the driveway, I remember Dad opening the front door and welcoming us home with a big smile on his face, “Oh, here are my two girls. Where have you been?”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

arpadilla July 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

I love this entry. It reminds me that your mom will always be your partner in crime. My mom was my partner in crime when my ex husband did me wrong.

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