Tuesday, October 20, 2009

THE MOVE from West of Lake Michigan

On The Lake—Part One

The summer I was to turn thirteen, my mother and her adult step son Dick, persuaded Dad to retire. No wonder. Mom was tired of his carousing and his drinking. She figured if we moved away from the temptations things might just iron themselves out all right. In the meantime the family business would rest on Dick’s shoulders.

The spot on earth Mom picked was a no brainer since it was our summer home in Delavan, Wisconsin. I loved it there; the lake, the boats, the scenery, and I had a feeling of being reborn. My younger brother felt the same. By that time my older sister Karen was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, leaving me the oldest of the siblings still at home. I didn’t flaunt my power. I enjoyed the lack of restrictions imposed by someone who thought she was the boss of me.

However, seventh grade was a do-over for me. Back in Chicago I didn’t pass it the first time through the grade. No shame in that, especially since no one at my new school knew about it. (I wasn’t telling) The summer between seventh grade and seventh grade, I suddenly slimmed down even further and grew boobs. The later totally embarrassed me.

My first day back in seventh grade, for the second time, in a new school and location, I found the boys and the girls liked me. Popularity was something new to me but I quickly adapted. I liked all my teachers too. They were non-combative.

For some reason after seven years, my mother finally tired of making those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and allowed me to eat hot lunch. Not only that but I had a great group of friends who actually wanted me to sit with them at lunchtime. We exchanged phone numbers and my social calendar was filled in every weekend. Added to this change of lifestyle, I brought home my first report card that did not have a D or an F on it. My mother was thrilled! “Let the good times roll,” I thought to myself.

Of course I had to block out the fact that dad now had nothing standing in between him and his drinking since he was retired. Alcohol consumption became his fulltime job. That and taking care of his lawn. We had a 24/7 drinking marathon situation on our hands. Mom frantically hid his bottles in my underwear drawer. Each morning I moved aside a bottle of vodka and two bottles of whiskey in order to locate all my undergarments.

By this time I was pretty good at blocking out what wasn’t pleasant and concentrated on the good things, such as popularity and going to school. What a difference a year made. And then I got my first boyfriend who enticed me to walk in the woods with him. I have never been so scared…. And I am not talking wild animals.

Continued next week…..