After eight years of avoidance I find myself at a crossroads. In this exact moment I am pulled over on the side of the road in the Hunter’s Hollow subdivision, a block and a half away from the Peay’s house. As I sit white-knuckled in the driver’s seat I’m fighting an internal battle, attempting to convince myself, "You can do this."
Yes, you read that correctly I'm going to WF's parent's home. No, I'm not going to pick him up, fund his life, and tote him around as I did for so many years. After the incredibly sad email I received from WF's Mom at six this morning and the tears that ensued it was only right for me to personally respond. An email sending my condolences to pay respects for Mamaw simply was not good enough. The only acceptable means of communication for an email expressing absolute heart break is a hug.
With the car pulled over and the radio off, I'm reminding myself I'm not going for WF. Who cares if I see him? I don't care. I've seen him and his tie-dye clad family multiple times this past summer at the Levitt Shell free concert series. His unvaccinated, barefooted children running rampant between the open restrooms and putting their mouths directly on the public water fountains in Overton Park. His wife is oblivious to the children. She is swaying, twisting, and gyrating to the live music. Her obviously untethered, National Geographic breasts are free swinging pendulums performing their interpretative dance Chaos in a Thin Tank Top, while WF frantically tries to herd his free-roaming children.
A block and a half from the Peay's home I persuade myself I will not be nervous any more. I give myself an out, “If there are many cars parked in front I'll drive by without stopping; they’ll never know.” Since WF is the oldest of five siblings, all now adults, there is a possibility of a large gathering at the Peay's home. I cannot help being nervous. I haven't been to their home in over eight years since right after I broke up with WF.
Along with the womanizing I remember all of the rules he imposed. I was forbidden from wearing high heels because he was not comfortable with my height. In the stilted shoes I was a regular Diana Prince towering above Lewis Skolnick. Wearing make-up to work or school when I was not around him was a sure way of being accused of cheating or attempting to attract other men. He also insisted that I walk behind him as a sign of respect because biblically women are the property of their men. These are just a few of the rules I followed. I wanted WF to be happy and feel comfortable. I’ll never forget the barrage of insults, snide comments, and looks of absolute disgust concerning my body and weight. I lost myself in the impossibility of never feeling or being good enough.
Gripping the steering wheel I pull my car away from the curb. I leave myself the option to ignore my own pep-talk, turn around in the cove, and drive off. I think better of it. If I do not do this now I'll never be able to comfortably face his family; I’ll always run from confrontation.
As a young newspaper girl I was taught to slowly count to 30 Mississippi before ringing or knocking again to allow the resident ample time to answer the door. After I knock on the Peay’s door I count to 12 in rapid numerical succession mimicking the Sesame Street pinball cartoon. I turn around to leave but out of the corner of my eye I see a shadow move in the living room. Immediately the front door opens.