10 Short Steps
November 12 1976 I stood outside of the meeting room where friends and family members gathered to witness my forming of a life long partnership swearing my ever lasting love to Robyn Joy.
In the last moment that I had by myself, I stared out the door towards the dark snow covered parking lot. I contemplated the recent past that had lead up to this moment and the upcoming future I had chosen to make for myself.
I thought about meeting at a church social, how we accidentally - on purpose kept bumping into each other. Later that night for what ever reason, I ended up driving myself home in her Datsun pickup truck. I remembered attending the socials in hope that we again would run into each other. When she would not show this gave me the opportunity to call her and ask if she was alright, or did she just give up on God?
I would always be on my best behavior as to not embarrass myself or make me seem not as cool as I really was. I remembered the other girls I had known before Robyn, I wondered if I had made a mistake by not staying with them. Early in the summer there was still was time to rekindle any one of the relationships, nobody’s feeling would have been hurt too bad.
I remembered one social going on an excursion to a small town where we took our own cars, we took Robyn’s Datsun. She sat snuggly over next to me, so close that she had to shift the transmission giving the rest of the girls the message that we were now an item. From then on our lives become one, basically attached at the hip. After some time our next logical move would be to form a life long bond to each other.
As I stood out and watched to snow coming down that November evening I told myself I could not be happier and I was doing the right thing. At that moment a sick foreboding feeling sank into my stomach. Like being a passenger on a doomed cruise ship, that was going to sink, I was the only one to know - there was nothing I could do about it.
Many people had come from long distances much time and money had been spent on the upcoming ceremony. These efforts could not and would not go to waste,
Nobody knew about the great times that were going to spend together, trials and tribulations that every relationship endures. We could not see how happy that we were going to be. Setting up and playing house while Robyn went to work I went to school on the GI Bill to learn a trade to support our new joint venture.
Nobody could for see days and nights spent together enjoying each others company, going to concerts, riding my motorcycle, goals that we would share as a couple. How would anybody be able to see the loss of individuality that accompanies a partnership such as ours?
How could I look into the future to conflicts that would arise from what would seem meaningless events? All I could see is that I would do my best make it good, as she would also.
How was I to know that the person that I am would no longer be the person that she wanted to spend her life with, how her goal was now to make me into that other person? How could I imagine that the harder I would try to keep my identity the harder she would push to make me the person she and her family wanted me to be?
Who could look into the future to see the endless hours of self abuse that one hundred ten pound Robyn would put herself through with her imagined and constant battle with obesity? Or, how jealously insecure she would become when Bernadette Peters was on television. Who could imagine the words “What are you doing looking at those women on TV?” even being together in a sentence?
How would she know that as time would go by the incessant nagging would make me gravitate more towards my friends and job and less towards her? Would it be obvious that I would rather drink beer with them until I was numb enough to go home to hear only a few hours of “I am trying to loose weight, and when you gonna quit smoking that dope?” Then coming home straight from work to spend the entire evening listening to the same self-centered, self-abusive dialog over and over again?
How was I to look into the future and imagine an evening when Robyn would be working a second job to pay for an upcoming vacation, that myself and two friends would be out at night drinking beer. I would be stumbling from a strip joint, looking for the beer and marijuana cigarette that would be left outside. Who would have guessed I might run face to face with her very straight laced sister with her husband coming from a church meeting or how they might not appreciate my actions?
I couldn’t imagine a future where our communication might fall apart so badly that she would stop using birth control with talking to me about it. I couldn’t imagine a time when we would have separate lives, a time when we would pass each other - not giving a thought to the meeting then going on with personal business.
I knew I would never be capable of purposely doing things to hurt my soon to be wife like doing drugs for purely recreational reasons, hanging out with the boys for all hours, (accomplishing other less than moral activities). All of which I said I would never do since she has sworn to leave me if I ever did such things.
It was unthinkable there might be a living room stacked with boxes full of Robyn’s belongings being in the way of the Harley frame sitting in the living room waiting to be built. I knew our relationship strong enough that we could work out such problems, she could never give me ultimatums such as “You do it my way - or I’m leaving!”.
I couldn’t imagine a time when I would rather be with my friends on a Friday night hanging out at the local biker bar “The Crazy Horse” instead of being with her. Only in my wildest imagination could I envision a five month pregnant Robyn coming to the Crazy Horse to be with me, while her boxes were packed waiting to be moved out of the living room.
Who could look into the future to see a one time happy couple with a bright future ahead of them have their commitment unceremoniously end on a sidewalk on State Street in front of the bar with ultimatums like, “Either put your stuff away or get the boxes out, your going to make this decision one time, once you are out you are out”. Who could imagine I might be able to level a personal attack like “Your family sucks donkey dick” or what could be the most hurtful of all “You are just plain stupid”.
As I looked out the door at the wedding chapel the snow had stopped, a few late comers straggled in with the excuse the weather slowed them down. I looked into the chapel where Tom (my best man) was standing, then as rehearsed I walked into the chapel and stood next to him in front of the bishop. My oldest sister Marlene was playing the prelude music, she then changed to the ritualistic wedding march.
I turned to see a room full of everybody that ever meant anything in my life, down the center was Robyn being escorted down the isle by her father - she had never looked so beautiful or happy.
Just then I had a moment of clarity that even 30 years later still haunts me.
I should have gone out that door while I still had the chance.
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