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Love is like a Butterfly
By Beverly Peterson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Beverly Peterson
All rights reserved.
I am not sure how to explain this to you, but I will try. We have tried talking in the past, but I always felt that you never understood anything that I had said. I need some time for myself, some time to sort through my feelings. Hopefully I can decide what direction my life will take.
No one knows about this letter, and I haven't told anyone where I will be going. The checkbook is in the desk in the kitchen. I have paid all the bills to date, and have made sure that the refrigerator has food in it for now.
I called work and told them I had to take an emergency leave of absence for a few weeks. If anyone asks, just tell them that I have gone to see Joan. Tell them that she called with a family emergency, and since we are best friends, she asked me to come out immediately. I am sure that no one will question you.
Knowing you, I am sure that this will be very embarrassing. I am sorry. I just don't know where to turn or what to do. I have thought about this for a long time, I have to do this, I have no other choice. Please try to understand. If you can't understand, be supportive and give me this time. Don't spend time looking for me. I will call in about two weeks. Hopefully I will be ready to come home within that time. I will be okay, really.
The kids will be home late. They have play practice after school. Donna is giving them a ride home, so you don't have to worry.
I will call you.
After reading the note over for the fourth time, I am trembling as I fold it and place it in an envelope with Bob's name on it. If I leave it on his dresser he will be sure to see it, and the kids won't find it if by chance they come home before he does.
I can't think about what I am doing any longer. I have to walk out now or I will never do it. One last look around. I have to take one last look.
Candy's room. She certainly is all girl. The curtains and bedspread all pink and ruffly. It doesn't matter that she is grown up at fifteen; she still has stuffed animals lining her room, each with its own special memory. I am sure that she has every one she has ever gotten. As I pick up the pink teddy bear she had as a baby, the music box in it strikes out the final notes of its last wind. I used to put it in her crib when she slept so that she wouldn't feel alone.
Rob the 12th grade heart throb. Someone had tagged that saying to him earlier this year, and it never faded. His room is an example of everything neutral. Nothing personal hanging on his walls to identify him or to give him meaning. He has always been able to hide behind a wall of protection not ever letting anyone see the real Rob. Somewhat like his father. I remember the time he found a bird that was near death in the back yard, and he cared for that bird night and day, nursing it back to health. The day he was finally able to let it go, he stood at the back door for at least an hour watching, and, I suspected, hoping it would return to him, but yet never sharing his feelings with us.
Maybe when I come back, if I come back, I will be able to help him realize that it is all right to be vulnerable to people and family.
I have to leave. Now!
As I place the envelope on Bob's dresser I feel an urgency that tells me to hurry. No one should be home for two hours, yet a warning is making me feel uneasy. I have already packed two suitcases and a garment bag. This should be enough to get me through whatever time I need. I just have to get away.
As I drive out the drive way, one last look. It is a beautiful house, in a setting that anyone would be proud to be a part of it. A brick ranch house with flowers encircling it. We had also planted flowers on each side of the driveway creating a welcome sight to anyone visiting. But material things were never very important to me. Oh sure, I enjoyed everything we were able to buy for ourselves and the kids, but I always seemed to be unhappy. Not so that anyone could see, but down deep in my soul. I guess that I was a little like Rob, usually keeping my doubts and thoughts to myself.
Good-bye Bob. I will call you. I will. Maybe tomorrow.
I haven't decided where I will stop, but I have decided that I will stay in Wisconsin. It doesn't make too much sense to travel a long distance. I can get lost within a few hours of home. The first nice small town I feel comfortable in will be my home for at least the next few weeks.
It is strange to start driving and not care what highway I am on or what direction I take. Something so completely different from my life at home. Everything is so well planned out without any consideration for me or what I might want to do. My life has rotated around Bob and the kids for so long that I have lost any identity that I had, and have become only a chauffeur and a maid. I have tried to make them understand that I need more in my life, but every time I start this conversation, it is as if no one hears me. Bob keeps reminding me that I expect everything to be perfect, and that life isn't perfect. Is that really what I expect, or do I miss the simple everyday considerations that each of us long for.
Picking up the newspapers off the floor instead of leaving it there for me to pick up, not leaving his glass by his chair side, making the bed when he is the last one out of it. Wouldn't it be nice to come home just once and have a meal started or the dishes put away. No not just once, it would be nice to have that on a regular basis. I work just as much as anyone else, yet when I get home I still have an evening of work to do. I would love to sit down, read the paper, watch television, and have someone else cook the meal and then clean up afterwards. I don't think that this is too much to ask, yet I honestly believe I will never see it. I have tried a number of times to make myself understood, but I always get comments like: "You know I hate to do dishes." As if that is the one thing that I love to do. Or, "If you would plan the meals ahead then I would be glad to help you." I guess I could take time to plan out meals, but how much trouble would it be to come home and find hamburger helper being made in a pan, nothing fancy, or maybe grilled cheese sandwiches. Just the fact someone, just once would say, "Here let me do this for you tonight and you sit".
The kids aren't much better. Oh, they are great if I need help, or if company is coming and I have a mountain of work to do, that is, if I ask them to help. I can never remember either one of them doing a task on their own without being asked to do it. I am sure there were times they did, but right now I can't remember any.
Maybe Bob is right, maybe I do expect everything to go smoothly, perfectly in his words. I don't think I do. What I need is to be loved. I need caring, I need romance. I need Bob to put the paper away for just one evening and notice that I am in the room with him. I need him to hold me after we make love, and not just turn away and say 'good night'. I just need to be held.
The way it looks now, I have to choose between my family and their needs and my own, and I feel outnumbered.
I realize that I have been driving for almost three hours with a short break at a rest area and one stop for gas. I have always hated driving long distances, but today the time has flown by. It is starting to approach late afternoon, and I better stop at the next town that has a friendly look, and stay the night.
As I enter Midland, I see a small cafe with a number of large trucks in the parking area. Bob had always said that if you are looking for a place to eat, keep an eye open for a restaurant where truckers eat. The food is usually good and the prices reasonable. I made a mental note where it was so that I could come back for supper after I found a place to stay. The town was a small town, with one block of stores on each side of the street. At the end of the downtown area was a gas station, and next to it a grocery store. I stopped at the gas station to ask if there was a motel in town.
"Why lady, you just passed it when you came into town."
"I'm sorry, I must have gone right by it without noticing. Can you tell me where it is?"
"Sure can. Just turn around and go back two blocks. Did you happen to notice a truck stop named Dolly's?"
I nodded that I did.
"Well, the motel is attached to the south side of Dolly's."
I thanked the man, and went back to my car feeling a little sheepish. Here I was in a town that was barely two blocks long in total, and I had missed the only motel. I made my way back to Dolly's Motel, deciding that if I didn't like the look of it I would travel to the next town, even though it was close to dusk.
On closer inspection, Dolly's Motel was a typical eight unit motel. Nothing fancy, no pool, but color TV was advertised on the sign, as if this were something that had been recently added. It did look clean and neat, and I decided that after the emotional strain of leaving home and the driving, I needed to stop and collapse, and Dolly's would be as good as any other.
The office to the motel was in the restaurant. As I approached the cashier, I found out that Dolly really did exist. She was about fifty five years old, medium build, brownish red hair that was pulled back into a French twist, and she was running around the restaurant giving each table her personal touch. When she saw me standing at the cash register, she greeted me with her own special smile that lit up her face.
"Well hi there, can I help you?"
"Is this the office to the motel?"
"Sure is. It just saves me a lot of steps if I have the office in here. Can I help you?"
"I'm interested in renting a room. What is your rate?"
"You look as though you need a rest. Been driving all day? You look all worn out."
When I didn't answer her she continued.
"The rooms are nothing fancy, but I guarantee they are clean. The price is $40.00 a day, and if you stay longer I might be able to give you a good rate."
"That sounds fine. I'll take a room, but only for tonight."
"How many will be staying?"
"Okay honey. Just fill out this form, and I'll get you set up."
"This is really nice" I stated, as I looked around the cafe. There was a counter with about 10 stools, and red checked tablecloths covered the tables that lined the walls. All in the entire cafe could hold about 75 people.
"Thanks. After my divorce I decided that if I was going to make a living I better look out for myself because no one else was going to do it, and I went to the bank and talked them into giving me a loan. Low and behold I opened Dolly's Cafe. Here honey, here's your key. You will be in number 5. You can park your car right in front of the door if you like. After you get settled, if you would like to come back for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, it's on me."
I thanked her, took the key to room number 5 and went back to my car. As I pulled the car in front of the room, I suddenly felt a loneliness ebbing over me. I had to get my luggage in the room before someone came up to me and asked what was wrong. I have never been good at hiding my feelings and tonight was no exception.
Opening the door I walked into what would be my home for the next few days. The bedspread was a chocolate brown color, with matching curtains. There were pictures on the walls that gave the room a special, personal touch. They were of beautiful landscapes, not the typical motel nonsense pictures. There was also a recliner in the corner with a writing table next to it. The carpeting was of the kitchen carpet variety in brown and beige tweed, not very soft, but very practical. All in all it was very inviting, as inviting as a motel room can be.
As I looked around, it became clear I was alone. There wouldn't be anyone knocking at my door, or anyone calling for my help or advice. I was alone, and that is exactly the way I wanted it. Or did I? Suddenly the loneliness washed over me again, only this time there was no one around, and no reason to hold back the tears. As I collapsed on the bed I sobbed as if my heart was breaking. It was breaking bit by bit, and this time I could cry and not care if anyone heard me. This time I could cry and not stop because I was afraid that someone would see my swollen eyes. Crying was nothing new to me; I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. I could be running an errand, driving down the street, and unexpectedly a wave of emotion would engulf me and suddenly tears would be streaming down my face. No explanation, nothing in particular that I was thinking about, just a deep feeling of being alone. The only thing is, this time I really am alone. There won't be anyone coming home later. This time the answers are up to me. I can no longer push my problems to the back of my mind. I have made the decision to deal with them; there is no turning back, not now.
With that new realization my sobbing turned into a mournful quiet crying. A crying that would not stop, and could only be hushed by welcomed sleep.
"Good morning. You don't look like you slept too good last night honey." Dolly greeted as she automatically poured a cup of coffee for me. I had hoped I had carefully covered up the puffiness around my eyes to hide the telltale signs of tears from the night before.
"No, I guess I did drive too far yesterday. I didn't realize how exhausted I was. I think I'll just have toast this morning."
"Not much to start the day on honey, but then if you get hungry, you can always stop back for that piece of pie you missed last night."
I had always resented being called "honey" by most people, but coming from Dolly it all seemed natural. I liked her small town welcome and the pleasant look on her face, I could understand why she had the business she did. Everyone liked her and her carefree attitude, yet she also gave the impression that she honestly liked you and was concerned. Like her comment about toast not being much to start off the day. She seemed to really care.
I drank my coffee, and for the first time I noticed my fellow customers. There were four truck drivers sitting at the counter. Around the tables that lined the walls were what I assumed to be locals from the town. Most of the people looked as if they were retired, each of them talking from one table to another. It was clear that Dolly's was the place to come for breakfast, and the morning gossip. When Dolly brought me my toast, I told her that I would be staying a few more days.
"Well glad to have you honey. Are you visiting anyone here, or just escaping?"
My sudden glance must have told her that I was indeed escaping, and surprised that she guessed my secret. I then looked down into my coffee cup away from her eyes. I could feel Dolly's gaze search my face, curious by my sudden quietness and by my feeble attempt to concentrate on the food that lay in front of me.
"I usually don't ask this of strangers, but since you will be staying with me for a few days, you don't by chance need something to keep you busy? I am desperately in need of some help in the restaurant for the next week or two, and if you are interested, you could work off the charge of the room, plus make a few bucks at the same time."
Work. I had never thought about working while I was away. It does make sense. I can't sit in my room all day and all night trying to sort through my feelings. I do need time to; as Dolly put it, escape from my own thoughts.
"It sounds interesting, but I have never waited on tables before."
"Have you ever cleaned up after someone? Or cooked and served diner, and then did the dishes?"
Little did she know that I had done this all my married life? "Yes I have done all those things."
"That is all you have to know. And then, you have to treat the customers as you would like to be treated. That's all. You think about it, and let me know. But if you are interested, you can start this morning about 10:00, or this afternoon around 2:00. It is a little slower at those times, and it will give you time to get used to the routine. I'll check back with you later."
"Dolly, I don't have to think about it. It sounds perfect. It will be just what I need. If you can put up with my mistakes, I promise to work hard for you."
"Great! What was your name again honey?"
"Mary ... Marilyn."
"Okay Marilyn, come back about 10:00 and I will show you the ropes. Don't worry, everyone here in Midland is friendly to newcomers. It won't be hard to learn." With that she was off to another table, stopping to say a few words as she passed each table.
I did it, I said yes, and I felt good about it. There was no one around to try to change my mind, to try to steer me in another direction. I made my own decision. It wasn't going to be a job of importance, but I was going to pay my own way, and for the first time someone was going to appreciate the work I was doing for them.
Excerpted from Love is like a Butterfly by Beverly Peterson. Copyright © 2013 Beverly Peterson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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