Fly Away Home
A memoir about the ups and downs in life and the back and forth travels of a multicultural family.

STArTING OVEr

This is a preview to the chapter STArTING OVEr from the book Fly Away Home by Maggie Myklebust.
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Were things really that bad between us? That was the question I asked myself every weekend when Tony picked had to admit life was more peaceful, but after he picked them up on Friday nights I’d instantly get depressed. I’d rally again on Saturday with cleaning and shopping to do, but come Sunday it took all my energy just to get out of bed. Without anything to do and my children gone all day, I did nothing but mope. Michele kept me posted on everything happening at Tony’s and there was no sign of his lady friend or her children again. We stopped fighting and if I needed anything, he’d happily oblige. After three months, I asked if he’d like to bring the children back early on Sundays and stay for dinner. He did, and it didn’t take long before he was falling asleep on the floor in front of the television after dinner and I’d let him stay. Late one night he showed up in bed with all the right words, “He was wrong, he missed me, he loved me and wanted another chance.” By summer he was back home.

We got off to a good start, he took a few extra hours off from work to spend with me and we talked more. I was able to talk to him about my job, which he seemed at peace with. He would tell me about his day and I’d listen in silence as he talked about the different people who’d come in looking for cars. I’d end up biting my tongue as he spat out racial slurs or went on about some dizzy broad, whose only assets were physical. It didn’t take long before I regretted our reconciliation.

On 16 October 1987, we celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary by going out to dinner, just the two of us. Later that night, as Tony snored softly beside me, I laid awake searching for a reason to fight for my marriage. After eleven years together there had to be something worth fighting for. The whole marriage couldn’t be defined by quarreling, or could it? The only good memories floating to the top of my thoughts were the moments we shared with our children. Their first steps, their first words and now as they were older, an A on their report card, or a goal made at a soccer game. They were our strongest bond. Otherwise it was broken promises to try harder and to do better. I lay in our four-poster bed, in our warm house, our children sleeping down the hall, our bills paid and new cars in the driveway and drifted to sleep without finding one single reason. In the end all we shared was a house, the children and a joint bank account. We would never make it to our twelfth anniversary.
On 5 April 1988, I turned thirty. I woke up with my twenties forever gone and felt old. I went to the hairdresser and for the first time cut my long hair into a short bob which barely covered my ears. Tony came home from work with a shiny white box tied with a pink satin bow and inside lay thirty, long-stemmed red roses. Annie had invited us over for a late supper without the children and after months of avoiding each other, I was shocked when he said yes. We arrived at Annie’s and I’m not sure who was more surprised, me, because all my friends were there to celebrate my birthday, or them when I showed up with a new hair cut and my elusive husband. There was good food, fine wine and lots of reminiscing. Seeing my three good friends, also in their thirtieth year and who I adored, I felt lucky. Ellen never changed, she was always the life of the party with her endlessly amusing antics. Donna too, was fun, yet a quieter version of Ellen, and Annie was the good one, always supporting and positive. They were all strong, smart and beautiful women. Although it was me who did the most to hold us all together, I couldn’t help but feel I was the weakest of the bunch. They seemed to tackle life’s ups and downs better than I did. Donna and Greg had separated a few months before, so she was there alone. Ellen was alone too, because her husband was home with their baby, Caroline. As the night progressed, Donna and Ellen, feeling happy as a result of all the fine wine, came up with a plan.

“Donna and I want to take you over to Frankie’s and buy you a birthday drink. What do you say, Maggie May?” Ellen whispered quietly, while Donna sat beside her nodding.

“When...now?” I asked and saw them both grinning complicity at each other.

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