Party On…

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When it rained, it poured. On occasion, that was a good thing.

My birthday was turning out to be one of my best ones in years.

Another close friend of mine wanted to make me a special dinner, so she invited Ashley and me over for a little soiree on Saturday night.

As it turned out, Ashley was invited to a Sweet 16 party and had to take a pass. As it also turned out, she had to be at her affair at the same time I had to be at my friend’s house.

Like I said…when it rained, it poured.

Since Dick was home, Ashley asked him if he would pick her up at the end of the evening. Before Dick would commit, he expected to know the exact time when he needed to be there. Ashley couldn’t answer that question definitively because the party was going to end whenever everyone was ready to go home. This reply was not good enough for Dick. Being the anal kind of guy that he was, he made Ashley call the hostess to get a better answer. Not surprisingly, the response was still the same. Imagine that! That still wasn’t acceptable to Dick. I couldn’t understand how his brain operated. Somehow, he thought that if he asked the same question enough times, eventually he’d get the answer he wanted to hear.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t his lucky day. Nor was it Ashley’s. Dick told her he was going out and wouldn’t be available to pick her up. Imagine that! Like he didn’t know he had plans before he put Ashley through all that!

So, in the middle of the afternoon, Ashley made frantic calls to all of her friends who were going to the party to try to arrange a carpool. It should have come as no surprise that at that late time, mostly everyone had already made plans. Finally she was able to set up something with one of her friends who was in a debate tournament that afternoon but unfortunately wouldn’t be able to leave her house until 6:00 pm. Coincidentally, that was the time the Sweet 16 was called for and also when I was supposed to be at my friend’s house. Imagine that! However, it was what it was and at least Ashley was able to get a ride home and I could stay at my friend’s house as late as I wanted. And of course, Dick was not inconvenienced at all. I never could figure out how this guy did it. Without fail, he was always able to screw things up for everyone else while not being affected at all.

Nevertheless, we worked things out the best we could. Unfortunately, there was no way the girls were going to make it to the party on time. Also, I had to call my friend and explain why I would be late as I had to pick up Ashley’s friend and drop the girls off at the party. She and her husband were not surprised.

Things were not starting out the way I had hoped. My nerves were completely shot and I was very riled up over the whole situation.

However, once I finally got to my destination, I started to mellow out. The bottle of wine I brought helped out tremendously. My friend, who was a phenomenal cook, prepared an amazing meal. Again, I ate way too much! After dinner, she surprised me with a spectacular birthday present— a beautiful, hot pink purse. I needed a new bag very badly. She realized that and wanted me to have something colorful to cheer me up. She also mentioned that “hot pink” was one of the hottest colors for spring. So not only did I get something that I loved, I was going to be hip, happening and styling too! Then she and her husband sang “Happy Birthday” to me and we devoured the homemade birthday cake and candies she made. Too full to move, the three of us played a word association game.  We laughed the night away. When I looked up at the clock , I was shocked to see that it was 2:00 am. It was hard to believe that the hours flew by so quickly.  I was so happy, touched and elated. Was I really the same person who started out the evening totally flipped out and a complete wreck? I was floating on Cloud 9. There was absolutely, positively nothing that would bring me down from the high that I was on. That’s how amazing I felt.

That was until I came home.

Since Josh went back to school, I took up residence in his room. When I left the house earlier in the day, I locked his bedroom door and took the cheap, generic key that could be used to open any number of doors with me. When I returned home, Dick and Ashley were sound asleep. Standing outside my temporary sleeping quarters, with key in hand, I was shocked to see that the door was already opened.

So much for privacy!

While the door could easily be opened with a straightened paperclip, I didn’t think that Dick would be so brazen as to unlock the door and leave it wide open.

That cocky, arrogant jerk was sending me a message loud and clear that he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted and no one was going to stop him…especially me.

 

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My Birthday

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Since Dick was not in Scottsdale like he had planned to be and because he had already taken off of work and wouldn’t be going to the office, not only was he home all morning, but he wouldn’t get out of bed.

This was going to be a problem.

I needed to take a shower and get dressed. One of my friends was taking me out to lunch and I had to meet her at noon. My bathroom was in my bedroom,  which Dick refused to vacate. We had been sharing the lavatory. When he felt like being cooperative, he’d leave the room so I could have privacy to bathe and dress.

However, on that particular morning, he made it clear that he wasn’t going anywhere. I knew he was looking to start an argument. Before I answered him, the strangest image popped into my head. I saw myself dribbling a basketball at half court, watching the time run out on the clock.  At that moment I realized I was in control of the situation. I just needed to take my time and not react immediately.

So, instead of responding to him, which is what I knew he was hoping I would do, I started humming a medley of Jason Mraz’s songs while I gathered my towel, soap, shampoo, hair dryer, makeup and clothes. Appearing totally upbeat and jovial, I exited the room with a dance in my step and my belongings in my arms.

Being completely inconvenienced, on my birthday no less, I took a shower in my kids bathroom and dressed in Josh’s room. However, it was worth the hassle because I had the satisfaction of not letting Dick suck me into an argument with him. He was looking for a way to drag me down to his level and made sure he spoiled the anniversary of the day I was born. I didn’t let him. Not only was I getting older, I was getting a little wiser as well!

I was happy to leave that bitter, angry, pitiful man behind to marinate his thoughts in the poison he concocted.

I was also looking forward to starting my birthday celebration with a positive frame of mind.

One of my closest friends was taking me out to eat at Lovell’s of Lake Forest. This elegant restaurant in Lake Forest, Illinois, owned by James Lovell (the Apollo 13 astronaut) and his family has always been a great place to celebrate a special occasion. I was definitely ready to do that.

Lunch was wonderful. It was so nice to sit, relax, talk and enjoy a delicious meal as if I didn’t have a care in the world or a miserable man waiting to torment me when I got home. The hours passed by as if they were minutes. When we finally left the restaurant, it was time to start getting ready for dinner. That old saying really is true—”Time flies when you are having fun.”

I was getting into the birthday spirit so I decided to stop at the local grocery store and treat myself to a birthday cake. As I was checking out, I mentioned to the cashier that it was my birthday and I for the first time in my life, I had to buy myself my own cake. All of a sudden, she and her bagger assistant started singing me “Happy Birthday.” I was so touched. Complete strangers were doing everything in their power to make me feel special on my special day.

I took Ashley out for my birthday dinner to a cute little Italian restaurant. Of course, we ate too much and were completely stuffed. However, in honor of that special occasion, our waiter brought out the most amazing homemade cannolis. We couldn’t refuse them. It would have been rude! So we forced ourselves to indulge. Ashley encouraged me to make a wish before I blew out the candle. I must have sat there for several minutes with my eyes closed as I prayed for a long list of things I would have loved to come into my life .

After dinner, we went to the movie theater and saw Dear John. I’ve always been a sucker for a sappy love story. However, after watching that film, it just reinforced to me what I didn’t have in my life and how much I craved having a special guy to celebrate my special day with me.

When we came home, we were still filled to the brim from what we ate earlier. While we couldn’t stomach the thought of eating another morsel, Ashley put candles in my cake and sang me “Happy Birthday.” Once again I closed my eyes, stood there for way too long as the wax from the illuminated flames effortlessly dripped down onto the frosting, wished for everything that’s been missing from my life for far too long and blew out the candles in one swift breath. We put the cake back into the fridge, knowing that the next day it would be consumed and enjoyed.

All in all, it was a spectacular day. In addition to all the celebrating I did throughout the day, I was showered with phone calls, birthday cards, e mails and an outpouring of birthday wishes on Facebook.

It was the best birthday I had in a long, long time. I went to sleep happy, content and feeling very lucky to have so many caring, loving people in my life.

It seemed like my wishes were starting to come true.

Pre-Birthday Jitters

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On Thursday, February 25, 2010, Dick left for a long weekend to visit Juanita.

His timing was actually perfect. I was ecstatic.

M birthday was the next day, Friday, February 26th. With him going away, Dick unknowingly was giving me the best birthday gift of all— leaving me alone and being as far away from me as possible! Never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined that this would have been the best present I could have possibly received for my birthday.

Finally, something was going my way!!! I looked up to the sky and mouthed “Thank you.”

By mid-morning I was starting to relax and unwind. By the late afternoon I was nearly floating on air.

That was until Ashley came home from school and hit me with a bombshell. She told me that Dick texted her and said that his flight was canceled. If he couldn’t reschedule to one taking off later that afternoon, he’d be home by 10:30 that evening.

NOOOOOOOOOO, I screamed silently in my head.

I quickly got on my computer and checked American Airlines flight status. There were no canceled flights headed to the Valley of the Sun.  The plane Dick was supposed to be on not only took off on time, it landed early. Something was fishy. All I could hope for was that somehow he re-booked on another airline.

My excitement was short-lived. At 10:00 PM, Dick came home…but his luggage didn’t.

The only thing that could have happened was that in between the time Dick got to the airport and before he was supposed to board the plane, he and Juanita got into a humongous argument and she told him not to bother coming to see her. Most likely he checked his bag when he got to the airport and his luggage went out to Arizona without him. I deduced that was why he returned empty-handed.

With Dick home, it was a given that he would do everything he could think of to ruin my birthday.