I move into a lovely older Northeast Portland home in the Lloyd Center area. I’m making good money working for the State of Oregon and finally feel some stability and security in my life, which bumps me up the symbolic ladder of adulthood a couple of rungs. Notice, I said adulthood, not parenthood.
I continue moving through my feminist rebellion persona, but with less desperation. At this time, I am seeking a deeper self-discovery as well as having fun. I’m in my mid-forties now with a wide circle of friends, and eyes opening even wider to view men available to date. I meet Arthur at a weekly breakfast solon but he does not fit my eligibility criteria. He’s twenty-two years my senior, is over-weight, short, and not particularly handsome. But he shamelessly flirts with me, and time proves him absolutely charming and very funny. We start dating.
Arthur has a well-developed feminine side and a mischievous side. He is multi-talented and can be split-a-gut-funny and downright playful. I need to add, though, that he has an ego as big as the Western Continent—full of himself, and therefore off-putting to many, if not all, of my friends. This doesn’t bother me, I love him and he tells me he absolutely loves me “…to pieces.”
I didn’t see it at the time, but Arthur filled the ‘adoring Daddy’ role I never had. He lavishes me with compliments, shows me off to his friends, wants us to be seen together in public whenever possible. After only a few months of dating, he begs me, on bended knee, to move in with him. I do.
Arthur encourages me to get my doctorate. He sees me as not only attractive and appealing as a female, but smart, too. We agreed I would apply to schools in the Northeast. We decide on the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Or, I should say, they decided on me. Bryn Mawr, Columbia, and Rutgers turn me down because of my low GRE scores.
Parent-wise, I remain out of focus. I am a mom, I identify as a mom, but I don’t feel the mom-hood. I’m just not ready to buck up and grow big parent shoulders. I hate describing what comes next: admitting that it doesn’t occur to me to consult with my daughters about applying to graduate school, plans which would take me away again. I meant to, but to my mortification, they find out before that could happen. Kelly drops by the house one afternoon to talk about a problem she is dealing with when Arthur blurts, “Boy, you’re really going to miss your mom when we leave, aren’t you?”
Kelly turns to face me, her eyes big, reflecting disbelief. Her mouth forms a silent O. I glance away as a tear rolls down her cheek. “Mother, what’s he talking about?”
What I realize now:
- Given my unconventional growth and development during the period in my life, I was struggling to find out who I was as an independent woman and as a parent simultaneously as the two clashed.
Stay tuned. Next episode: Philadelphia