|Lorraine in 1964, in Saginaw|
I am being pursued—presumably because I was initially standoffish as much as anything—by the good-looking scion of a wealthy Michigan family who is obviously destined for greater things than the police beat of The Saginaw News. He has a law degree from the University of Michigan, a socialite mother, a publisher father on a sister newspaper, but three desks away from me is where he is for the time being. Someday he will marry someone named Pru who went to a Seven Sister or a near cousin, this I know, but being the object of his ten minutes of attention is momentarily flattering. It is a given he is lobbing pretty women like tennis balls from one of those thingamabobs that automatically shoot them into the air, one after another.
It’s Friday night, we’ve had drinks, he’s made me dinner at his insanely fabulous single-guy studio on the top floor of a once-grand house on Mansion Row. I am a virgin, I say, disentangling myself from he who is so smooth his cologne should be called Savoir-faire. He is astounded—how could this be in this day? It’s 1964! The promise I’d made to Tom bounced around in my head: I wasn’t going to give up that just yet for a quick flash in sheets, despite his insistence, despite how Victorian I suddenly feel.
Virginity still intact around ten p.m. he drives me home in his hardtop
maroon Karmann Ghia and whadda you know, Tom is there on the street, leaning
against his own hardtop maroon Karmann Ghia, grinning like he hadn’t been MIA
for five months. Dashing scion comments favorably on my surprise suitor’s choice
of car as I say goodnight. It is unbearably hot and humid, so damp the sky is
wringing out its hair as a fine drizzle falls. It’s been like this for days, when will
the weather break?
Where have you been, I ask. I want to smack him and kiss him at the same
I’ve been really depressed, he says. I didn’t have enough credits to graduate.
My mother isn’t speaking to me. I’ve got a room and a crummy summer job in
Flint. I wrote once, he says, but it was just a list of how bad things are. I didn’t
Hmm. Let’s go out, I say, this place is stifling. We go to a drive-in—Tom
doesn’t drink so a bar would have been superfluous. I really don’t have a hold on
my emotions because I am doing a slow burn over not hearing from him for
months. An hour passes. Another. We talk and talk and I still want to both fall into
his arms and smack him.
Let’s get married now, he says.
Huh? After all those months of me wondering what in the hell happened to
you? After you doing this twice? I did NoDoz nights, you did College Lite—now
you didn’t even graduate. Am I a slight bit irritated? Confused? How can we make
plans, you still have to graduate. Getting a degree—the first in my family to do
so—had been so all important to me, had been so hard to do over my father’s
objections—it was difficult to accept Tom squandering his opportunity. His mother
had gone to college; maybe it didn’t seem so critical to him.
I don’t know anymore, comes out of my mouth.
It’s two a.m. and we’re now back in my apartment, it’s creeping toward
three, we are trying to be quiet, talking barely above a whisper, I am not supposed
to have gentlemen overnight runs through my head, thinking of the woman who
lives across the hall, the owner of the house downstairs, the private entrance is not
that private, I’ll never be able to get him out of here in the morning or tomorrow
sometime without everybody knowing, it’s too late to ask for an exception, even
the cat across the hall is sleeping. I feel for him, looking now desolate and tired,
but I can’t get thrown out of this place, I don’t even have a car yet and I can walk
to work from here.
You need to come tomorrow, I say, we’ll have the whole day, it’s the Fourth
of July. Come back tomorrow.
Can I spend the night? It’s a long drive back to Flint. Flint is forty miles
away. It’s two-thirty already. A reasonable request.
I explain the rule. He asks again, I do not relent, though I do not really want
to send him away. You know he loves you, and you love him still, right? Really,
do I? I’m always having these conversations with myself.
Promise me you will come back tomorrow, I say, standing across from him
in that tiny sitting room with a dark fuzzy maroon couch and matching overstuffed
armchair. Where could he sleep anyway? Should I break the rule, run down in the
morning and tell the landlady why? What will happen then? I just moved in, I
barely know her.
Say, I promise, I insist.
I promise, he says.
This should be sealed with a kiss, flits across consciousness. Say that, Tom,
and I’ll meet you in the middle. Should I say it? I have been awfully cold. Should I
take the damn two steps toward him, and hold out my arms, saying: Let’s seal that
with a kiss?
But pride gets in the way, and I do not, and he does not, and down the steps
he goes into the unforgiving swelter of the night.--lorraine from hole in my heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
From Chapter 1, Back Story. Next: Conclusion of Chapter 1
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