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(1977-1985)

IX


the bruised burned barnacled blistered bleeding betrayed beatific blessed but busy hands fondling all and everything the senses to sustain satiate the life to live an albatross for your loins sojourns bacardi dark puerto rican rum in its brown stained glass gold tooth tobacco chaw balking before coming to awareness of the full fear and loneliness of death a small window into another realm buddy can you spare a dime bag all the nymphs a question of pelvic energy and endurance glands addled brains bridges are for leaping depths dark do fish have finny feelings time to clean the horse blake said it best all else scribbling skies blend with eternal grayness getting weary of gretchen and her company cloak dark powers night on the beach boozing in each otherís arms and legs entwined dark hillocks of sand damp crab covered dunes scudding surf shallow racing roof of fog roaring smashing waves laughing gull


11/23/79-Fri.-My relationship with Betty continues to be one-sided. While I am spending about $700 a month on her and her household, plus doing baby-sitting and sundry chores over there, and wanting us to finally get married, she continues to express reluctance and reservations, desires a job partly so as to be independent of me, insists I leave their house each night even when her older kids are away visiting their natural father, encourages Keith to come over to see their infant (insisting on my not being there then), and shows little or no further interest in our having sex. The only puzzlement is that she is not firm and clear that it is completely over between us. I gather she has the same indecision that has afflicted her for months, but is willing to make everything as appealing as possible for Keith, even if at the expense of further involvement with me.

12/8/79-Sat.-Still very dissatisfied over the limbo with Betty. Am not optimistic, but I have decided to give us six more weeks. If there is no positive resolution in that time, things will be ended between us.

12/25/79-Tues.-Christmas Day. This is our third night at my folks' Austin place. Betty and I drove over in two very tiring days, bringing all of her children with us. In some ways, the visit with my folks and siblings has gone better than I would have expected. Both of my parents are getting along well with Betty and each of her kids. Indeed, the first three children, from seven year old Tommy to Betty's oldest, age 12, are now quite naturally and spontaneously (for neither Betty nor certainly I put them up to it) calling Dad and Mom "Grandpa" and "Grandma," respectively! My folks were at first reserved about these new nicknames, but the appellations seem to have grown on them both. In fact, they are responding more warmly now to Betty's kids, as if in response to their having shown this trust and familiarity. Meanwhile, my still-at-home siblings seem delighted at the extra drama and entertainment of sharing Christmas with their big brother's "ready made family."

There are a variety of difficulties one would not have imagined, though. For instance, I'm having more serious misgivings, after a harrowing journey in which Betty was repeatedly quite a bitch. I now have my worst sinus, allergy, or cold flare-up in a long time, insomnia, and impatience with my parents' late night yelling and blaring TV. Yet I am horny as hell, while Betty still insists on abstinence (a little late for her to be on that kick, I'm thinking!).

Tommy, obviously having major problems for which he needs counseling and/or medication (about which Betty and I do not agree, she in denial), is still not merely wetting his bed regularly but often defecating in it and staying that way till morning. Am beginning to get the message that, despite good intentions, I might be taking on too much stress and chaos.

Even if Betty agreed to this visit, she still is emphatic that we neither live together again nor set a marriage date. As usual, I have the impression she is doing only the bare minimum to keep her options open. Betty even says that, until we get married, she will keep taking a generous monthly stipend from Keith.

1/1/80-Tues.-New Year's Day. We are back in Columbia, SC. By mutual agreement, Betty and I have been setting aside for the holidays any constructive dealing with the major pending issues between us. As a result, this festive respite has often been quite enjoyable.

1/2/80-Wed.-Things came to a head again this evening. After all the time we spent with my family, pleasantly so for the most part, I was taken aback when Betty told me her brother and his family would soon be arriving at her place, and that she did not want them to see me there. Is it too much to expect a reciprocal relationship?

Read works of the historian, Antonia Fraser.

1/9/80-Wed.-Just back from a few days' visit in VA with my brother, Ralph, and his wife, Mary, as well as my friends, Rich and Cindy. I am afraid I ventilated a lot about how things are (not) going between me and Betty. But mostly it was just great to take a vacation from all the emotional turmoil in SC and to have good times with friends and family!

1/15/80-Tues.-My second day as a new vocational rehabilitation intern at Wall Institute. Things are going well there. Also today, had my first class in this semester's "Psychology of Mental Retardation" course.

Received a thoughtful, solicitous letter from my brother, Ralph, suggesting ways in future to avoid the kind of relationship pain am going through now. Bottom line: his wise brotherly counsel to never again get into an addictive, co-dependent relationship.

2/16/80-Sat.-I'm sure a persevering reader, having stayed with me to this point, will not find it surprising that, just since the last entry, I have both made up and then broken up with Betty more than a half dozen times. Each cycle has been accompanied by firm resolutions and/or excellent intentions. I am finding it as hard to overcome this destructive habit as I did the abuse of alcohol.

Right now, I am once more up in Norfolk, VA, visiting with Ralph and Mary. He is in bed with pneumonia and sounds terrible. In free time from socializing, am catching up on my studies (easy enough to assure, since neither Ralph nor Mary has been getting much sleep, and he really needs to take things easy, giving himself a chance to get well).

2/18/80-Mon.-During a long Charlotte, NC, layover between flights back to Columbia, I am again missing Betty terribly and trying to figure out ways we can get back together. This time finally we could make it work well between us. I called her long-distance from the airport and arranged to see her later this week.

2/22/80-Fri.-Inevitably, I suppose, my rendezvous with Betty did not go as hoped. So it seems best, if only I can manage the thing, to cease all contact with her, let myself grieve over what might have been (but, in the real world, simply could not), and move on.

Read Men's Bodies, Men's Selves.

2/23/80-Sat.-Have arranged a dinner date for next Thursday with a woman who works with me at the Wall Institute.

Took cleaning, did laundry, and straightened up the apartment. Not feeling great, but am calmer about my "romantic" situation than in quite some time.


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