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A Memoir of Love, Depression and Abuse Terra Meierdierck
I “If I'm alive now, then I was dead, Though, like a stone, unbothered by it, Staying put according to habit.” – Sylvia Plath I miss those warm summer days driving in the car with Randall down the shore, cranking the music in the car and enjoying the day together. I throw Betty Blowtorch in to the CD deck and sing to him “I was your shamrock and you were my black heart”. The lyrics of Love Hate hold a different meaning now in my heart. Grande, two pump, no whip mocha is how I first knew him. When I was working at Starbucks Randall would come in every morning to see me. The first morning I saw his sweet face I was standing at the end of the bar with my face buried in my Chinese Text Book, studying for my midterm that afternoon. He walked up and said hello to me in Chinese. I quickly became detached from my studies, my eyes connected with two large hazel eyes staring at me. I replied hello and he began to ask me questions about my studies and interests. The morning then stole our moment and he was off to work, with my phone number in hand. Love at first thought. Our first date was magical and I felt the same comfort with Randall that I did upon our meet at the coffee shop. I arrived at his house one Saturday in the earlier part of the evening. I brought two movies I had rented for us to watch, he cooked us dinner. He had spent the better half of the day cleaning the house in anticipation of my arrival, just another detail to win me over. He baked Louisiana yams and stuffed them with delicious chili. Randall spoke of his childhood, born in Shreveport, Louisiana; his father was in the military and his mother would stay home with both he and his brother. The corners of his mouth would turn up as he spoke of his mother and how hard she worked to raise her two sons. Yet he never made eye contact with me while mentioning his father. He told stories of his father being stationed in Japan and showed me a solid ivory Buddha he brought back with him. Randall still keeps it on his mantel. We moved to the couch and watched the movies. He held my hand and played with my sterling sliver bracelet, two dolphins. Randall had them talking to each other, and gave them funny names. David and Greg, they were asking each other how the surf was, the catch of the day. He made me giggle and feel comfortable around him. He took his fingers, ticked my arm before touching my cheek and kissing my lips. In the upcoming months we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. We took turns traveling to meet each other, going to the movies, reading books together at Barns and Nobel. Randall and I would go on adventures we found in Weird New Jersey, exploring and taking photos. We went on trips to museums in New York City, traveled to concerts, dined at nice restaurants and made love. He would enter me, hold me in his arms, and I would feel complete. He became my best friend and my boyfriend; our relationship grew more emotionally enmeshed.
One warm summer Sunday Randall took me to meet his family down in Manasquan for a family cook out. As we walked in to his brother’s house everyone was warm to me, greeting me. I felt at ease talking to his mother, helped his sister-in-law in the kitchen and played Frisbee with their dog. His family was warm and I grew to love them. We started going everywhere together, holiday parties, family birthdays and work functions. One holiday season we went to a party his job hosted at the Chelsea Piers in New York City. We vacationed at my family’s lake house in Maine. Sometimes we would take weekend trips up to Boston to see concerts and dine at wonderful restaurants. If I had to travel for work, he would go with me. Sylvia Plath wrote about her meeting the love of her life Ted Hughs “If I'm alive now, then I was dead, Though, like a stone, unbothered by it, Staying put according to habit.” Opening my heart up to Randall felt wonderful. He told me he loved me and I knew he meant it. When I was in Randall’s arms I felt safe.
II “He picks up my wrists and looks at them for a long moment. He kissed them gently, passionately, perfectly: the single kiss, the kiss of consolation which makes up for all that has happened and all that has passed. And I think to myself, if I had known anyone would kissed me that, I would have never done it." - Melanie Thernstrom One evening, when I was a teenager, I sequestered myself in my bedroom till my parents were asleep, sipping on a fifth of grey goose vodka. I pulled the boxes of sleeping pills I had stored in the spot between my bed and the wall, popping open the tops of the two bottles. I grabbed the matte white pills ten at a time and swallowed them, following the vodka to my belly. The room started to grow distant. I grabbed a small razor I had on my television stand, which I had removed from a BIC razor, and began to cut away at my wrists. The room continued to fade. I took another sip of vodka and was absorbed by darkness. The morning came with the sun, it peaked through my mini blinds and pierced my eyelids. I opened my eyes and saw my grandfather standing over me with a concerned look on his face. He told me to appreciate my life, it was not yet our time to meet again. I whispered the words I love you to him and the vision of him fainted. I told myself it is not my time yet, I need to be here for myself and my family. The first November Randall and I were together he took two weeks vacation from work around Thanksgiving. Within the isolation of the cold loneliness and depression grew inside him. He started to call me on the phone, wanting my company so he wouldn’t be alone. “Hi babe, what’s your work schedule like this week?” “Well Randall, I work overnights till Thursday morning, my usual schedule.” “Do you think you could come down here? I would really like to see you and I am feeling lonely” “Sure, when would you like to see me my black heart?” “Well I was hoping you could come down Thursday and stay through the weekend since you have off work. If you have laundry and stuff you have to do, you can bring it down here too.” “Randall, I would love to spend the weekend with you, that sounds great. I will call you on Thursday when I leave and I am on my way.” I took the next week off work and we spent those days in his house our company. Randall would build fires, I would sit close to them snuggled in a tattered arm chair, reading, comforted by the warmth of the flames. Randall sat on the couch playing video games, rolling joints and smoking his mind. I would make us lunch, which would then be followed by a nap. In the evening he would treat me to dinner at the restaurant of my choice. We would start lying in bed together for days, watching movies, making love and sharing stories of our childhoods. Randall told me about his childhood, growing up in Ocean Grove. His mother was a single mom who worked two jobs to support Randall and his older brother. They lived in a duplex, which they
shared with his mother’s best friend Annemarie and her daughter. When Randall was two his father left his mother for a woman, another woman whom he had been seeing the whole time they were married. Randall’s parents decided to get married when his mother was pregnant with his older brother; he apparently was the second accident. His father then moved out of state to dodge paying child support, leaving his mother changing diapers while cutting hair for a profit. He told me he always felt alone and that he never had anyone who he felt close to. I shared with Randall tales of my adolescent years. I opened up to him about my parents fighting, my father always trying to be a friend, rather than a father, and my mother struggling to get control over her children. Staying out of the house till past 11 pm at the age of twelve, while my mother worried about where I was. My father would never punish me; instead he would take me out for Espresso and Tiramisu, more concerned about being a friend than a parent. In the evenings my parents would argue about me. Being young, I simply assumed that I was the cause of the argument and all their marriage problems. The hatred grew in my house as my brothers started to get older. My parents stayed together, with my mother holding the house and the family up, keeping us off the ground. Then for the first time in my life I showed someone the scars on my wrists, opened up, and shared with him my story.
III “He hit me and it felt like a kiss. He hit me and I knew that he loved me” - Carole King When things got bad he would come home from work, walk up the stairs, start to visually scan the apartment and look for something to start an argument over. One evening I was standing in the kitchen making dinner when Randall came in. He caught some breadcrumbs sticking out like freckles in our white sink, scatter from washing the cutting board. He told me if I had a problem keeping the house clean then we were going to have a problem. I tried to force the words I’m sorry out of my mouth, but before I could finish my sentence, he started slugging my left arm. In retaliation I screamed at him “Go ahead hit me! If that makes you feel more like a man, go on!” He then stormed into the bedroom, as if on cue from our practice routine. He would sit on his side of the bed, pack his pipe with weed and spark the butane lighter I had bought him as a gift. I moved to the couch to try to pull myself together. I sat there for a while and cried. Our cat came up and sat on my lap. I ran my fingers through her soft hair. The physical pain never hurts, though it leaves a bruise. The emotional pain leaves scars, which never heal, that only the owner can really see. From the living room I could hear the clank of the metal pipe against the stone ashtray. Once I had heard the count of about ten rounds I tried to dry my eyes, I knew he was on his way out. He walked out of the room, past the kitchen, through the hall to the living room where I was sitting on the couch. He sat down next to me, put his hand on top of mine, and gave me the sweetest kiss on my cheek. He told me he loved me and he never meant to hurt me.
IV “Beautiful girl, Stay with me.” – Michael Hutchence I started to spend the weekends at Randall’s house with him. We would run errands together, sleep in late and enjoy each other’s company. Every Sunday evening it was sad to return home. He would sing Inxs “Beautiful girl, stay with me”. I longed for the day that I never had to leave. I found a one bedroom apartment a mile from my parents and the train which was in our price range. With this move Randall would cut forty-five minutes off his commute in to New York City each way and relive a lot of stress. I was happy to be close to my parents and to begin to share my life with him. Each afternoon I would step off the train at 5:08 pm and walk home. I would take the mail out of the mailbox, walk to our upstairs apartment, clean the litter box, sweep the floor and feed our cat. Then I would prepare dinner and wait for Randall to be home at 6:45 pm. Sometimes pasta, Mexican, stuffed spaghetti squash, always cooked with love, waiting for him to come home. When Randall would get home from work he would give me a kiss and then walk to the bedroom to kiss his bowl. He would sit on his side of the bed, pack his bowl and smoke till he was nice and lit. Then he would shower to wash away the filth of New York City and the stress of work. Randall would come to the dinner table clean of body and mind, we would say a prayer, giving thanks to us being together and our families, before beginning begin to eat. He and I discussed our day and enjoyed our time together. After dinner we would cuddle and watch movies together. One Sunday afternoon we were shopping at Petco for fish food and I begged to go over to the pet adoption area. I knew if Randall was coaxed over to that area I could convince him to adopt a cat. Both of us grew up in households where we always had animals, he missed the company too. Then we met her, the tiny runt, ginger cat all alone in the corner. Randall fell for Kylie as quickly as I did. Randall would play ball with her after dinner, bouncing the ball on the hardwood floors. In the late evening I would play string with her before bed. He no longer sang “Beautiful girl, Stay with me” unless it was on the radio. We were home now, our home. I stayed with him every night and woke up next to him every morning.
V “The bed -- well, the sheets have turned to gold – hard, hard gold, and the mattress is being kissed into a stone.” – Anne Sexton Randall and I used to go out to dinner every Saturday night. When it was warm out we would drive down to the Jersey Shore for an outing to take advantage of the nice weather. For desert we would get ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles and walk the boards of Ocean Grove, Randall’s hometown. He would tell me stories of his childhood as we walked the shore town. The house he grew up in, 100 Abbot Street, his cat Sam buried in the back yard, and what his life was life. His favorite story was one where he threw a slice of cheese up and it stuck to the ceiling, it stayed there for months just rotting. Finally it stunk so bad he had to tell his mother. He would laugh, as I would visualize these stories in my head. When winter came Randall never wanted to go our anymore, just sit in the house. “Babe, they are showing some great horror flicks at the MOMA. Let’s take the train to the city and get a bite to eat, we can check one out.” “I don’t feel like taking the train to the city. I do that every day. Besides, I would rather just stay in. You can read and I will draw on my computer. I and rather tired too.” “I was really looking forward to going out with you and having fun this weekend.” “I just want to relax. I’m real tired from work and the commute.” “Ok, I will just make us dinner I suppose.” This went on for months, progressively getting worse. On the weekends he wouldn’t want to leave the house at all. Randall would wake up at 11 am, sit up in bed and pack his pipe. He would lovingly refer to this as his wake and bake, a necessary action to complete before arising from the comfort of the bed. He would then travel to our eating area and power on the computer. I would make us brunch, waffles and fruit, followed by cuddling and a nap. I longed for those day afternoons, falling in to love and making love. The warm weather; walks on the boards of Ocean Grove. The creamy ice cream and childhood tales. They were gone, though I wished for them to return, we still had each other and our love. They never did and the mattress was being kissed into a stone.
VI “Love will tear us apart” – Ian Curtis It was August and the summer was coming to a close. Randall and I shared dreams of getting married and believed the best way to start planning for our future would be to buy a house together. A friend of mine put me in touch with a realtor whom she worked with and we began looking at houses. We looked at condos, tow family houses as an income property, anything in our price range. We were leaning towards a two family house till one evening, Abby, the realtor, phoned us with the suggestion that we come see a small house about two miles from where we lived. We stepped into the small brick ranch and fell in love. The house was out dated with its wooden accent walls and lime colored kitchen, but we could see it as ours. Over time we could fix up the house the way we wanted and build our dream at the same time. A partial finished basement, two-car garage, two bedrooms, one bath, a sauna and even a fireplace. We put a bid on the small house located on cottage place, turning our dream in to a reality. The sellers accepted the bid and Abby started the closing process. We hired an attorney to draw up the contract and arrange for the house to be inspected. The process was moving so fast and the emotional pressure was building. We started number crunching and figured out a budget we could live on. Randall began to stress out over our financial situation and the thought of living with financial constraints. He began to come home irritable everyday from work. I began to blame myself with the rational “if I only made more money Randall would not feel all this financial pressure”. Till the problem just seemed to fade as he exploded… “I just don’t think we can do this. I like my life the way it is. I don’t want to live on a budget and I feel trapped!” Randall says to me “Randall if you are going to come home everyday miserable I don’t want to do it either. There is no point unless we are both going to be happy.” “Good, Marie. I will call the attorney tomorrow and back out of the deal. I will pay him for all his work and time.” Just like that… The commitment and the pressure was relieved from our relationship, the happiness began to return to our household. For my birthday, which was two weeks later, Randall gave me a promise ring. He explained the time was not right now, but here is a promise. Someday we will have a house together and you will be my wife. In my heart I wanted this to be true, but I knew it was only a matter of time till love would tear us apart again.
VII “Angels with silver wings, should have no suffering, I wish I could take the pain from you” – Martin Gore It was a crisp fall evening; I zipped up my jacket and started off the train towards my car. Inside my pocket I could feel the vibration of my cell phone, deciding to pick it up. My best friend’s mother was calling; I quickly picked up, eager to talk to her. “Hi Joanne, how are you doing?” “Hi Marie, where are you?” “I am driving home, I just got off the train.” “Please pull over, I need to talk.” “”What’s up Joanne? Oh no, is Hans in the hospital again?” “No, Marie. He is not with us anymore.” “Well, where did he go? Do you want me to find him and pick him up?” “Marie, he passed.” “What do you mean?” “Marie, Hans is gone. He passed this morning. Where are you? Please come over.” “I… I… Will go home and wait for Randall, then I will be right there. I want to wait for him to drive me.” Barely keeping it together I hung up the phone to call Randall. I could feel my stomach knotting up, trying to force the lentil soup I had for lunch up my throat. “Randall, I need you. I need you right now.” “Baby, what’s wrong?” “It’s Hans, Joanne just called me and told me he passed. We have to get over there. I need to see her. I need you.” “I will be home in an hour babe. Please wait for me, I do not want you driving.” “I love you.” I hung up the phone and started to loose myself. I screamed and cursed in my car as I started to approach my apartment, so angry at the world. I took my fist and slammed it against the steering wheel, beating it repeatedly till my palm was purple with blood. When Randall arrived home he took me to Hans’ house. I walked in and greeted his family, kissing them on the cheek as I said hello. We sat around the table and listened to Joanne as she spoke. Hans picked up his guitar and walked out on the front stoop on an October evening. At some point he decided to walk back inside but collapsed between the two front doors in the mudroom. His guitar was still in his grips as he lye on the tile floor and blood seeped from his skull. The police searched Hans’ room; find an empty bag of heroin and syringes. Hans had been sober for nine months, keeping an opiate blocker in his arm. He spent most of his life scared of society and unable to keep a job, He was on disability for his emotional disorders. Hans continuously medicated
himself with clonazepam, Haldol and Wellbutrin, in an attempt to live life like a normal person. The only period of his life that really seemed to be happy was when he was hanging out with his best friend, heroin. When Hans was high he was not afraid to talk to people. We would go to the boardwalk and he would spark up conversations with people. M best friend who I had to beg to take showers and drag out of bed at 5:00 pm was egger to see the world. He worded a regular job, saved money and rented an apartment. Then he got sober and fell apart at the same time. In and out of hospitals, shooting up in the hospitals, till he finally found help in a halfway house. He attended NA Meetings and sobered up for six months before returning home. Life was always a struggle though. One day the demons just got the best of him. We sat around the dinning room table and tried to make sense out of all of it. Each of us were san and angry that he was gone. Questions running through our minds – Did he mean to do it? Were there other health issues that helped to trigger this? What if I picked up the phone the night before when he called? What we should have been thinking is that he was in peace now, his life no longer tortured, instead of agonizing over his death. Randall grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze. My eyelids are saturated and swollen; yet I still make contact with his. “I love you baby. You still have me and I will never leave you. You have nothing in the world to worry about.” Randall tells me
VIII “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted” – Jack Kerouac Salt stains my cheeks and tarnishes my pillow. I pull the comforter over my head and curl up in a fetal position. I think of Hans and remember the unique special friendship we had. I miss taking the train with him to random places, taking pictures and making movies with our video cameras. Playing music, walking on the boardwalk, and having someone who understood my feelings. The cat crawls up next to me and starts to purr as I pull her close to me. Randall hears my muffled sobs and comes in to the room. “Marie, it has been months now, when are you going to get over this?” “Randall, I can not believe you are asking that? ‘When am I going to get over this? The death of my best friend! How does someone even get over such a thing?” “Well you are going to have to learn how to, because I can not stand to hear your crying anymore.” “Randall, I can’t, something is missing since he is gone, a large character of my life. It takes a long time for people to get over a thing like this.” “Marie, I think we need to find a way to separate. You can live here as long as you want, but we need to go our own separate ways.” My soft sobs turned into violent wails. Feelings of anger, betrayal and mistrust overloaded my mind. A sharp pain afflicted my stomach and I began to feel nauseous. I rolled over and clung on to the cat, running my fingers through her soft fur. I buried my face into the pillow and shut my eyes. Everything became dark.
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