Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm

Dan and I  were terrible together. We brought out the worst in each other. Together we drank too much, partied too much, and spent too much time with people we weren’t married to.

When Dan left the night Rocky took the kids, he went to his ‘friend’ Becky, who had been at his table the night we met. Becky disliked me because she had been interested in Dan and I’d apparently stolen him away from her. She took the opportunity to try and steal him back. I started finding long blond hairs in the car. Dan told me they were Tonia’s and I told him they were too long to be Tonia’s. Then he started talking about giving Becky rides here and there but of course they were ‘just friends.’ He loved me. He was with me. 

I’d given up theatre for him. That’s where all my friends were. I’d nearly died from getting pregnant with him. The least he could do–the very least–was to not screw around on me. I couldn’t say that to him; I couldn’t say it out loud–that would make it real. My suspicions would be true. Somehow we both convinced ourselves that getting married would make everything better, but to absolutely no one’s surprise, it did not. 

Now instead of finding blond hairs in the car, I kept finding Dan’s wedding ring in the car’s ashtray. He’d tell me he took it off at work and forgot to put it on again. I’d tell him to leave it at home while he was at work and put it back on when he got home. But I think it was important for him to be seen as the happy new husband at work. He rarely came home right after work any more. He never took me out with him when he went out on the weekends. He went to house parties without me.

I’d lost my job at the fabric store for not coming back to work right away after the ectopic pregnancy. I got a job at a garment manufacturing place–a sweatshop–where I sewed left pockets all day. I hated it. It was boring, mind-numbing work. One day I went outside and sat in my car for my lunch break. When it was time to go back inside, I turned on the car and drove home, unable to face even one more minute in the place. 

Now I was unemployed and someone came up with the great idea that I should provide child care for the families. Dan’s sister had enrolled at the university and she had a daughter about 2 years old. Sean’s son Brad was about 18 months. Kelsie was close to three. Nick and AJ were 7 and Monica was 5. I had just lost not only the baby I was carrying, but the hope of having any more babies ever. So of course it made sense to surround me with all the babies we could find.

Since Dan was never around anyway, I went back to the Mouse River Players Community Theatre where I quickly took up with one of the male actors. If Dan could cheat, so could I. Our marriage was off to a wonderful start. Ronnie and his girlfriend had a surprise pregnancy and were expecting twins. But she went into premature labor and one of the baby girls was stillborn. The other survived a few days, but passed away before she was a week old. As I had done for Faith, I made them dresses to be buried in. Somehow word got out that I made burial clothes for babies and for a few months after the dramatic end of my own pregnancy, I made clothes for deceased babies to be buried in. I had to stop because the sadness and depression were killing me.

When Dan and I were both home, it was an armed standoff. Dan was a pro at being passive-aggressive and sparking me into bursts of anger. I was just as good at snarky remarks and back-handed compliments, wounding the psyche. Rocky came and took the kids away for another visitation and Dan took a baseball bat to my bookshelves. I took the same bat to his truck. He sold my car and bought an older model Trans Am that I had to drive with blocks on the pedals. I used it to follow him to bars so I could sit down with him and the lady he was chatting up and introduce myself. He stopped coming home after the bars closed. I started locking him out of the house. He asked for a divorce and I begged him not to go. 

Some friends of his were getting married and we went out to the combined bachelor/bachelorette party. Dan ignored me all night, to the point that he watched one of his friends pull me into his lap and get handsy with me and said nothing. Dan left with Becky. I was too drunk to drive and drove home anyway. The wedding was out of town–I can’t remember where. I also can’t remember why Dan decided to take me or why I thought it was a good idea to go with him. He dropped me at the hotel and I didn’t see him again until the wedding. 

At the reception I was standing alone, looking for Dan. I didn’t know anyone. Dan approached me with the same friend who’d grabbed me at the party, Jared. When they got to me, Jared ‘tripped’ and splashed his entire drink in my face and down the front of my dress. Dan and Jared doubled over in laughter and took off. I went back to the hotel and called Joyce, weeping. I wanted to come home but it was a small town and the single gas station was closed and the car was nearly out of gas. There was nothing to be done. Joyce told me to go to sleep. I had no other choices. I went to sleep. 

The ride back to Minot was silent and when we got home, Dan packed his things. I called Joyce and Jerome and told them Dan was leaving. They came to get me and pulled up as he was walking out of the house. I followed him, begging him not to go. Why? Why did I want him to stay? We were terrible to and for each other. It hadn’t been good between us for a long time. Still, when Dan got in his car and drove away, I fell to my knees in the yard, weeping. Jerome picked me up and put me in his car and took my back to the room I’d slept in when I was a teenager. 

Dan said he wanted out of the marriage and all he wanted was his snowmobile and his Trans Ams. I got the house and the truck.  Sean and Tammy came and stayed with me for about a week, until Sean was no longer worried I’d do something irrational, then he made me go stay with Tonia for about a week. Tonia and Tammy started taking me out drinking every weekend. They taught me to smoke. I smoked and drank a lot. Dan and I couldn’t let go of one another. We were divorced, but he still came and spent the night. After he left one morning I went over to his house and slashed up the seat of his snowmobile. He came back the next weekend. We were seriously messed up and seriously terrible to and for each other. 

The truck Dan had left me was too big for me to drive and I decided to sell it. Dan had the title at his house and I went over to get it. He didn’t want me to sell the truck; he still wanted to have it to haul his snowmobile. I reminded him we were divorced and the truck wasn’t his to use. He wouldn’t give me the deed; he wanted me to keep the truck. I said fine, YOU keep the truck. Buy it from me so I can buy a car I can drive. Or buy a car I can drive and we’ll trade. He said he didn’t have the money for that and told me to leave, his date was on the way over. I was outraged. He was sleeping with me and dating someone else? “Just give me the goddam title so I can sell the truck and never see you again!” No deed–he didn’t want me to sell the truck; he wanted me to leave now. I wasn’t leaving until I got the title.

Dan said if I didn’t leave he was calling the cops. He tried to push me out of the house and ended up knocking me down onto the deck. When he tried to help me up I slapped at his hands, so he grabbed both of my wrists and yanked me up. I said I was NOT leaving without the title. He called the cops, who told me to leave. I said I would leave as soon as Dan gave me the title to MY truck. Dan told the cop he didn’t have the title. The cop arrested me for trespassing, handcuffed me, and put me in the back of his car, weeping. Dan watched impassively as I was driven away and taken to the station. When we got there, I was told they’d have to search me. I held my arms out from my sides, still weeping. I was wearing a cropped T-shirt and bike shorts; it was obvious I had nowhere to hide anything. They skipped the search and gave me a phone call. 

I called Tonia and she said she was on her way. I was put in a holding cell, but I was shivering violently–was I in shock? Can you go into shock from emotional stress? I don’t know. But I was taken out of the holding cell, given a blanket, and made to sit at a desk with one of the cops. Tonia arrived and bailed me out. On the way home, she told me this was over. The End. If she saw me or heard of me with Dan again, she was never speaking to me again. She was not going to bail me out again, she wasn’t going to listen to me cry anymore. No. More. Dan. Ever. She dropped me off at my house and when she got home, she called Dan and told him to never come near me again. She’d have him arrested for harassment or stalking, or whatever it took.

When I got inside my house the title for the truck was laying on my dining room table, signed and ready to go. 

Now Sean and Tammy’s marriage reached its last legs too. I don’t know what caused the final rift–I was too caught up in my Dan drama and getting arrested, and pleading guilty to my one and only legal misdemeanor: trespass in the first degree. I only know Sean needed a place to stay and moved in with me. It was ok for a while, but Sean and I were both in bad places, both drinking too much, both unable to talk out our hurt. There was a class reunion at this time and Sue and Trish came back to town to attend. I refused to go with them because I felt like a failure after my second divorce. I was profoundly depressed and drinking my hurts away.

One night I had to break up a physical fight between Sean and Tammy. It was supposed to be Sean’s night to have Bradley and he’d gone out, leaving the boy with me–which I had agreed to. But Tammy saw Sean out while she herself was out and said if he wasn’t going to spend time with the child then she wasn’t going to let him have Bradley on the weekends. They raced each other to my house, pulled toddler Bradley out of his bed and began screaming at each other. I ran out into the kitchen to find out what the hell was going on and found the two of them physically fighting over Bradley. Sean had the baby in his arms and Tammy was trying to pull him away from his father. The poor baby was screaming his head off. I shouted at them to both shut the fuck up and I took the baby and told them to both get out of my house or I was calling the cops. Tammy left. Sean stayed. I slept with Bradley in my bed that night.

One morning I woke up and wearing nothing but the giant t-shirt that I slept in, I walked into my kitchen to find a strange man sitting at my dining room table. Stunned, I stopped and stared at him and asked him, “Who the hell are you?” He told me he was a friend of Sean’s and that Sean had said he could stay there after the bar last night. At that point Sean came up from the basement and told me that this ‘friend’ is a guy he’d just met last night at the bar and they got along so well together that Sean had brought him back to smoke a few joints and have a few more beers. I was so angry I could barely see. I told the man to get out of my house this minute. When he was gone I told Sean to pack his shit. I wanted him out of the house. I told him that Brad I could stay but he had brought a strange man into my house in the middle of the night and let him stay over with me and my kids. He didn’t even know this man! The man could have robbed us, killed us– who knows what he could have done. So I kicked Sean out.  I shouldn’t have. I’ve regretted my anger ever since. 

But Sean took the opportunity to get clean again.


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