Wealth and Potential

“People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.” – John Porter

She was beautiful. I worshiped her. She had everything I wanted and needed and much more.

Her long blonde hair cascaded to her shoulders in varying lengths of bright blonde, paler blonde and ash blonde. She had it colored and her stylist did a wonderful job. I remember her husband, Don, once telling me that they had a convertible and went for a drive and her “gorgeous blonde hair blew in the wind, glistening all shades of gold,  and she looked fucking gorgeous…like an angel”. He loved her so much.

Her eyes were large and her body was very toned. She was tall and always well dressed. Their large bedroom had two closets and one of them housed all her amazing clothing, handbags and accessories. I used to stand at the entrance to the closet and just stare in wonder at the beauty of her clothing. If I turned from the closet towards the large double vanity, I could view her designer makeup and jewelry and styling products. I used to spend hours musing over her beauty products. She really did not need them but boy did she know how to use them.

To add to her physical beauty she was intelligent, educated and an overall nice person. She was always friendly with me. She never treated me like a child.  She never looked down on me as some stupid ignorant girl who got herself knocked up. She liked me!

I was merely a young girl she hired as her babysitter for her darling young daughter, Jessica.

Her husband, Don, appeared older than her by at least 5 or more years. His personality, like hers, was stellar. Warm, caring, funny, outgoing. I adored him as well.  I believe even though I did not find him physically attractive, I did have a crush on him. I liked it when he would drive me home from their house back to the maternity home. He would talk and share and make me laugh. He was interested in me as a person and treated me with respect.  He talked to me like an adult and someone who saw some value in me

Don had a great deal of wealth in his life (wealth of all kinds – and compared to me at that time he had EVERYTHING) yet he was not arrogant or dismissive. I remember him once telling me the story of his brother who might be dying of cancer. He was saying how at first he was so angry at his brothers illness and was feeling sorry for himself.  He was saying “Why me? Why me God? Why does my brother have to die? WHY ME!”  He then told me he realized “Why not him? He wasn’t anything so great or special? Why should God spare him the loss of a brother?” That really struck a chord with me – perhaps the wrong one. As at that time I was engaged in my own “Why me?” conversations with someones God.

I was always thrilled to be in their company.  They were a great couple. A good family. And Jess, she was always a good girl. I never had a problem with her. We got along just fine.

I would often stand in the small kitchen of their Lincoln Park town house and just watch them interact. They regularly asked me to stay for dinner or to arrive early so I could share a meal. It was heaven for me. To be some place normal and to be out of the maternity home. I would simultaneously wish I was their daughter as well as wish I was Jan, the wife, or Jess, the baby girl. They seemed to have it all – and that included the yuppie Lincoln Park requirement of having a pregnant girl from “the home” as your baby sitter.

I don’t remember discussing my pregnancy with them. I must have; clearly, I was pregnant while I sat for them. I must have talked to Jan or Don about it. Didn’t I?  I don’t remember. Perhaps that is intentional. I wanted, needed, to focus on good things, good people and they were good. They were wonderful.

After I delivered my daughter, the agency shipped me back home to my parents. No more Don and Jan. No more Jess. No more admiring the perfect people in the perfect world. I was sent back to my personal ConnecticutBelow where I was both invisible and nonexistent to others. My own version of Neverwhere and where Don, Jan, their world, their daughter – and mine – didn’t exist.

But they did exist.

I was home less than a month before I decided I had to leave again. I could not stay in my parent’s home. I could not and would not pretend my daughter did not exist. I had to be around people who acknowledged my pain and did not tell me to deny it. I had to be around those that welcomed my daughter and did not tell me that she did not exist, as my own father had told me. I had to be around people who could and would see the depth of my pain and would not ignore it.  At home I was emotionally bleeding and was told it was best to ignore it.

And so I left home again.  On my own, with no job, no where to live, two hundred dollars in my pocket.

I went back to Chicago.  I remember calling Jan and asking (so bold of me) if I could stay with them for a month or so. My friend was still in the maternity home. Once she delivered and gave up her child, we would find an apartment together. In exchange for room and board with Don and Jan, I offered free babysitting. They had an extra room. I was certain they would allow me to stay.

They did.

And so I returned to the perfect world.

I registered with a temp agency and  found a temp job in relatively short order.  I worked at The Exchange National Bank on Lasalle as a secretary.  I also enrolled in school.  By summer, C and I had gotten an apartment on N. Pinegrove. I was 19 years old.

Bittersweet memories. For I was indeed so resourceful, so strong, and did indeed have so much potential.

Contrary to what everyone said, I was able to care for myself — and I could have cared for my child too.

4 Thoughts.

  1. So can I cry now? (again!) You always move me dearling.. I love you Suz, you are so strong, so amazing to me and yes, very, very dear to me…

  2. The _Neverwhere_ reference is powerful and apropos. Tragic how a single event can eject a person from a world that formerly seemed to offer such permanence.

  3. Wow, Suz. That was heart wrenching. And as you know, I can relate. I can’t help but think that, beyond wealth and a few years, what the women we encountered during pregnancy had that we didn’t was: husbands.
    You were stronger and more resourceful than I was at that age. And therefore, proof that YES, you could have raised your child.

Comments are closed.