Read 1 and 2 first.
I turned 21 in that little apartment.
I got off work early and he had hidden a sort of scavenger hunt of little presents around the apartment for me to find. We had beer and pizza for dinner, since I could legally go to Liquor Barn and purchase my own Corona.
I was happy.
For the most part.
It seemed to creep up on me, the drinking. I didn't notice how much he was doing it at first. Then, by the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. He didn't respect me enough to listen when I told him not to drink. I think as an alcoholic, he couldn't help himself. The guys at the drag strip would bring beer when summer started really getting hot, and he would tell me he had only had one while hiding the three or four other empty bottles behind his back.
Someone would always rat him out to me. I was the old lady, after all, and they would rather he do his duty and face my wrath than they have to.
I am fully capable of being unbelievably scary. Apparently.
I wouldn't really know. I don't scare myself.
The more we fought, the more he drank. The more he drank, the more we fought. There was no end in sight.
Then he started calling me to fight while I was at work. Sometimes he would do it when my boss was standing at my desk. Then call back four or five times for good measure.
My work performance was suffering. I never got enough sleep. I was sick all the time. And he was always on my case about something. My acid reflux was so bad that I couldn't eat until after I got home from work. I lost probably lost close to 20 pounds before I got fired.
That was before the shit hit the fan.
I was depressed over having lost my job. I was trying to find a new one. But for those of you who don't realize, Northern California is exceptionally hot in late July and early August. I was trying not to use my car much because I didn't have money for gas. But schlepping around town in 110 degree weather in heels and trying to look presentable for potential employers just doesn't work.
I was also driving him to work every morning and picking him up every afternoon.
He knew I had always wanted and orange and white "tiger kitty," so he found a litter of free ones. He let me pick the one I wanted. I wanted the little boy.
He pissed on me the first two nights we had him. He would wake Bambi up several times over the course of the night attacking his toes. He would crawl up on Bambi's pillow and sleep there with me after I returned from taking him to work. He would wait by the door until I got home from looking for a job, and later from work. He would wait until I sat on the couch, then run so he could curl up on my lap.
He was beautiful, albeit a little bit of a shithead.
I make it sound like something terrible happened to him. It didn't. He is still alive and still gorgeous. He still waits by the door for me to come home from work. And sometimes he still sleeps on the pillow next to mine. He was one of the best things I got out of the relationship. Along with a feeling of self-preservation and some fucking sweet Hollister sweatpants that "accidentally" ended up with my stuff when I moved.
Though, I didn't expect him to end up being so... Angora.
Bambi drank more and more. Then he started calling his friends in the middle of the night and going out at two and three in the morning.
He would have fits of anger in which he'd push me or throw things at me. He would hold me down by sitting on me with his knees on pressure points on my upper arms so I couldn't move. He pulled out a handfull of my hair. I could hear it ripping from my scalp.
In September, I finally got a part-time job at Payless. His sister got married and I made her a centerpiece in filet crochet with lilies designed in it. I stayed home to work on it the night of the bachelor/bachelorette party. He said he'd be home by ten.
He wasn't home at midnight. And he wasn't answering his phone. He was still gone at two and three and five.
When I got up at nine to get ready for work, he came home crying. He said they'd made him snort Ritalin, then drink beer to come back down, and they had taken his phone and wouldn't let him call me.
I still don't know if I believe he was forced into any of those things or not.
After work, I went to my parents' house. They had just left for a weeklong trip to Cabo. It is the only time in my life I have ever desperately needed my mom and not had her around. I couldn't even call her. I know she would have been there if she could have. She was just already out of the country when I broke.
An hour before rehearsal dinner was due to start, I went home and woke Bambi up to see if he planned to go. His mom called while I was there and he said we were going. Then he asked me to call her back and tell her he was sick. I don't think he ever really woke up from his hangover coma. I packed a bag and went back to my parents'. My brother was housesitting, but said it would be okay if I stayed in my old bedroom for a while.
I went to the wedding with him the next day. I posed in pictures. I pasted a smile on my face. I didn't cry when his family members asked when we'd be getting married. I stayed with him that night because he wouldn't let me leave when I tried.
I'm not even sure he slept. I think he may have just laid beside me and watched me all night, memorizing everything I did, knowing I was already gone.