I'm back at Tammie's. Being with my grandchildren is temporarily therapeutic. Teri talked to Dennis, who is still at the house, refusing to leave. He is angry that I had told him I would see him at the end of the week but had not even contacted him. He refuses to leave till I do.
I spend the night at Cathy's, drinking too much wine and talking till I feel crazy from wild circles in my brain. The liquor gives me courage as I adamantly insist I am never going back to Dennis. At this moment, it seems an easy promise to carry out.
I'm at Lynette's. She tries to counsel me as to what the next step should be, saying that I need to stay away from Dennis as long as possible.
I drive by my house on the way to Teri's. There's no car in the driveway. I go in the house and find Dennis' belongings gone and a key on the counter. I assume it means he has moved out. I lunch with a friend and drive by the house again, thinking a few days there will give me strength to go to Arizona. I go back to the house. His car is back in the driveway. I return to Teri's. More grandchildren, more chaos, and more confusion. I need to run.
Day Seven -
Back at Tammie's. Mass in the morning, wandering around in confusion and tension all day. I feel like a lost child, needing guidance, needing mothering. I'm ashamed of my lack of strength and my need to have my children mother me when I should be so to them.
Still at Tammie's, still confused....what to do...what to do...
Back at Teri's...weather report is bad for Arizona. They're having rainstorms and snow blizzards, especially in the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff area. I don't care. I'm feeling rudderless, a burden to my family, tired of sleeping on couches and bundling up with the babies in their beds. Dennis is still at the house. I need to leave.
The drive to Flagstaff is fraught with a strange combination of terror and strength. LA. is beset with thunderstorms and flooding conditions when I leave. Is my house all right? I worry endlessly as I drive, holding my stomach against the loneliness and bewilderment raging inside of me. Am I doing the right thing? I both loathe and look forward to my arrival in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff is covered with snow. I love it, but I'm lonely and concerned about the house and whether Dennis is still there. I don't miss him but worry incessantly about what to do next and whether any of what I'm doing is the right thing. I talk to my sister-in-law, Kathleen, in Tucson. She cautions me not to go to the Grand Canyon under any condition. It's besieged by blizzards with many of the roads closed.
I leave for the Canyon in the morning anyway, no chains and no experience driving in the snow. The people at the hotel warn me not to go. I don't much care. I feel if danger is near, it is inevitable that I meet up with it. I need terror in my heart to overwhelm the anxiety that hovers in my mind on a continual basis. I am reminded of the old joke about someone who stubs their toe and then smashes their hand into a wall to forget about the pain in their foot. As I draw closer to the canyon, my car skids on the ice and whirls around, turning circles, like a crazy ride at Disneyland, heading for a ravine. My terror accelerates. The car stops with a thud. I sit in the midst of the falling snow, my heart thumping wildly. I try, childlike, to decide whether to park where I am and go hiking in the snow. I toy with the idea, hoping perhaps I'll get lost and be able to lie down and sleep forever. Common sense prevails as I turn the car around and get back on the road. A while later it happens again. I am only 27 miles from the Canyon. More common sense as I decide to turn back. I change my mind when a snowplow appears and I follow it into the village.
There is zero visibility at the Canyon. I lunch quickly and set about returning to Flagstaff after severe warnings not to take the Highway 180 cutoff. When I arrive at 180, I veer off the main road to the left, deciding they must have exaggerated the danger. Twenty miles in, the road disappears as the snow rages. I am terrified, blood pulsating in my ears. I feel like a blind person as I inch along what I think is the road. If it weren't for the ghostly trees I can barely see, I'm not sure if I'm even on it. I feel isolated, as if I've landed on another planet. I'm badly frightened. Oh God, I pray, just let me get into Flagstaff alive and I'll never be foolish again. It's no doubt an empty offering. My heart sits in my throat and I'm almost afraid to swallow as if the very act will somehow cause something bad to happen. If I hold my breath, perhaps Flagstaff will appear in front of me safely. It does, after several hours. I wonder how I managed to make it back in that driving snow. Exhausted from the strain, I celebrate my reluctant and somewhat stupid courage by going out to dinner at a restaurant called Black Bart's. I've been there before, once with Chuck, and once with Dennis. It's a lovely place with great food and college students who wait on tables as they sing Broadway tunes. I'm lonely and hate being here. What am I doing, I wonder? I call Kathleen. She says she's grateful I didn't go up to the Grand Canyon. Two women had gone and hiked in the woods. They became lost in the storm. One body was located. The other woman had to have her legs amputated from frostbite. Kathleen asks what I did instead.