The question of where to begin is always a difficult one. As memory has a way of bleeding time into itself, so that you can no longer tell where one moment begins and another ends. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I know that I also spent most of my adolescence trying to forget it all and bury it deep down somewhere, where I would never find it again. But as these things go, you can never hide it for long. Sooner or later it will creep back up like regurgitated food and the taste will be just as unpleasant, as it was going down the first time...
The Best of the Worst
My mother was 18 when she had me. She and my father were married for a short time. It was probably the only conventional thing my mother ever did. I can see why she was attracted to him, he was incredibly good looking and very charismatic. Tall, dark and handsome with these blues eyes that cracked at the corners and always seemed to be smiling mischievously at you. He looked like Tom Selleck in his Magnum P.I. days with the same gregarious smile and charm.
He exuded confidence and this extra something special that made people immediately like and trust him. To me, he was larger than life and I could hardly believe that I was related to him, let alone his daughter. He rode a motorcycle, which he would take me out on from time to time; and drove a t-top corvette with this super curvy front end and I remember him telling me that the curves on it reminded him, of the legs on a woman. He owned a boat at the Oxnard harbor, which he was renovating by hand, all by himself and occasionally he would let me captain it. I remember how good it felt to be steering the boat out on the open water, with the wind in my hair.
Being with him, made me feel larger than life too. Almost like that life I had lived with my mother, before I was with him, was just some dark dream. He told me that his boat was his special place and that it’s where he went when he wanted to get away from the world. In all of our times on the boat, I don’t remember him ever bringing anyone else on it. It truly felt like it was our secret hideaway from the world.
We stayed on the boat sometimes, but he lived in a big house that he rented with a roommate and the two of them were living, what must have been the bachelors dream. My dad always had some hot new blonde with big boobs in his bed, but those girls didn’t mean anything to him. For as long as I knew him, he only ever really loved one woman.
Their relationship was off and on again though and it seemed like he was always trying to win back her good graces for something he had done. In the end, after several years of back and forth, on again, off again, he ultimately lost her and I have to say, that she was the better for it. I loved her too though. She was beautiful, she had long legs, beautiful dark hair that shone in the sunlit and she drove a jeep with a removable top. She had the face of a model and a heart of gold. She always reminded me of my favorite brunette Barbie that I loved dressing up, only she was real and took me out shopping and to Universal Studios on the weekends. When she was with him, we would have slumber parties and she would do my makeup and it was this perfect little world like you would see on tv. Only this perfect little world, existed only in our minds, as she didn’t know my real dad, she only knew the parts he wanted her to see and I was far too young, to understand any of it.
As my grandma always says, "everything that glitters isn’t golden". You see, my dad was also a coke dealer in the 80’s, amongst many other things. Probably not hard to imagine given his over the top lifestyle, but I have heard my mother say on many occasions, that he was one of the biggest dealers in LA at the time. While my mother isn't exactly the best character witness, I have heard enough stories from my uncles and had witnessed enough during those years to believe it. Sometimes, when I would come over to his house on the weekends, he would have a giant scale and a huge pile of coke on his coffee table, which he would occasionally weigh out for a friend.
But his criminal enterprise didn’t end at drug dealing, he was quite the mastermind really. My grandma always tells me that I get my charm and smarts from my dad, which truly terrifies me, but also sort of makes me proud, considering all that he got away with. I remember him taking me once, to a house that he and one of his business partners had rented. In looking back on it now, I think it was a house they used to store their take in. I remember seeing a closet full of gold bars stacked from the floor to the ceiling and I remember the little girl me, staring at the gold in awe of how big and beautiful it was. I also remember my dad saying something to his partner, about what a pain it was to move them; but I also remember him being very proud of that closet.
I have heard stories that he and his partner would dress up like coastguards and go to the rich neighborhoods in Malibu, knocking on all of the doors pretending that there was some kind of emergency (not sure if they said tidal waves or what), but that everyone needed to evacuate their homes immediately. Citing that it wasn’t safe to be there and then after everyone in the neighborhood had cleared out, he and his partner would break into the houses one by one and steal anything and everything they could fit in their disguised van.
In looking back on it all and trying to make sense of it, as I have done thousands of times over the years. I can’t say for sure whether or not it was a byproduct of the coke or a passing on of a perversion that his mother had wrongly bestowed upon him; but my father had a very dark side to him when it came to me. It was a sick twisted version of fatherly love. When I would visit him on those weekends, I would share a bed with him and his woman of the night, sometimes the woman would have a little girl of her own and we would all share the bed together. He would make love to woman, while I usually pretended to be asleep and then after she fell asleep, he would pull me close and touch me in my private, while telling me how much he loved me.
One morning in particular I remember waking up, the woman was gone and he was on top of me. He didn’t say anything, he was just looking at me, while he was trying to put himself inside of me; and to this day I can’t say for sure if it was my ass or my pussy. I am not even sure if he made it in, I just remember this overwhelming feeling of having to go poop, like one of those painful constipated poops. I told him it hurt and that I needed to go poop and he kept on for a while, but I insisted and finally he let me up and I must have sat on that toilet for an hour, waiting for a poop that never came.
A part of me knew it was wrong, I didn’t like the way it felt and I was stalling because I didn’t want to get back into that bed. Lucky for me, I must have stalled long enough because he finally lost interest and we went about our day as if nothing had happened.
It was the only time that I ever remember him trying to stick himself inside of me, but he always touched and played with me before we fell asleep. Although he never did this stuff when the brunette Barbie was around. I knew he felt guilty about it, because right before he would bring me back on Sundays, he would take me shopping and buy me anything and everything I wanted and then some. He would then give me a long, stern speech about how it was our little secret and that I couldn't tell anyone about the things we did and that if I told anybody, he would never see me again. Little did we both know, how true those words would end up being.
I would go home with bags full of bribery toys. This went on from the time I was about 6, until I was 7 or 8. People sometimes ask me, why I let it happen. Honestly it’s not something you think about. As a kid you don’t know what normal is, all you have is your own life as a gauge against the world. I didn’t think I was being molested, I didn’t even know what being molested was. I knew it didn't feel good and that I didn’t like it and that I was always trying to weasel my way out of it. I’d pretend to be asleep or move down to the edge of the bed by his feet and sleep there, so it was harder for him to pull me up. But as far as I was concerned, this was normal and something that probably every kid did with their dad, they just didn’t talk about it because it was supposed to be their little secret.
The whole thing came to end though, when I was back at home and at that time, home was living with my younger sister and her dad and their family. My sister’s grandmother on her dads side, was giving us girls a bath and as she was drying us off, she was telling us that our private parts were meant to be private and that no one should ever touch them. I responded to her with “well my daddy touches me there” and she said well what do you mean, how does he touch you and I explained it to her and showed her, while my sister too young to really understand what was happening, sat their listening with wide eyes.
I remember that evening overhearing my sisters grandmother telling my sisters dad, about our little conversation and how she thought I was being molested by my dad during the weekend visitations. The next day I went to school, proudly telling all of my friends and teachers that I was being molested. I had no idea what the word meant, but it was so big, that I thought it would surely impress them that I knew such a big word. Well impressed wasn’t the reaction I got. The school pulled me out of class and called my sisters father and being that I was living with him, they must have assumed that he was the father doing the molesting and the whole thing got blown out of hand and my sisters father was completely embarrassed by it all. Not wanting to deal with it, or me anymore, he promptly shipped me back up to my mother in Oregon and that was the end of the good life for me; and what also would be the second to last time, I would ever see my father again.
Life before and after this was with my mother and in all of the things that I had endured up and until this point, nothing had hurt me as bad as having been sent back home. Not because I didn’t love my mother, but because it felt like rejection. Like I wasn’t good enough to be a part of their family. There was no conversation with me about it, no preparation, no explaining why they were sending me back, no helping me understand the shock and embarrassment they were trying to deal with. No, I was simply on a plane before I knew it. It felt cold and heartless and it was one of the few things that ever made me cry and to this day, can still do that to me.
You see up and until this point, I had never known what normal life was. I had never seen it and been able to contrast it to the life I had lived up and until that point. My sisters father lived in a home he owned, with a pool in the backyard, in a neighborhood full of kids. He was married, the wife was pretty, they both worked full-time while we went to school; and there I was, in this house of strangers, living with my sister, her dad, his new wife and their two kids.
Her dad owned a bike shop, so we had cool new bikes and dinner was on the table every night like clockwork. They woke us up in the morning for school, they made lunch for us, we had nice clothes and toys and family movie nights. Then the mom and dad would drive us to school and pick us up afterwards in their trucks and race each other home. The mom would cheat, by off-roading through a field to beat my sisters dad home and I remember always being happy to be riding with the girls cause we always won. So yes, this was the good life to me. It was where I learned how to ride a bike and what a normal relationship between a man and woman looked like. This was my sisters home and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced and I wanted so much to be part of it, to fit in, to belong and to stay. But it wasn’t my world and I wasn’t meant to live in it. They had done a nice thing by taking me in, when my mother went to prison and now I had humiliated her father and it was time for me to go back home. I just wish it hadn’t hurt me so much. I don’t think I ever forgave them for turning their back on me, to this day I have a hard time talking to my sister about it.
I had flown countless times by myself and while I usually enjoyed the independence of taking a flight all by myself like the adults did, this particular flight was different for me. I was broken hearted at the sudden rejection I felt by my sisters family and by the not knowing if my mother would be waiting for me on the other end of that flight. I wasn't sure whether she was back in jail or prison and if I would be finding my way back to the dark "Freddy Krugar" trailer on my own. More importantly, I was not ready for the life I knew awaited me.
It’s a funny thing to see your life with such different eyes as a child, probably no more than 7 at the time, but here I was alone on a flight from Southern California to Oregon, contemplating two very contrasting ways of living. This moment as painful as it was, profoundly changed me and ultimately paved the way for my future self. Just one of the many foundational building blocks to the person that I am today. For I knew at that very moment in time, that another way of life was possible; what it looked like, how the people acted and treated one another and I knew that this was the life I would spend the rest of my life striving to achieve. Something I had always been blind to before. So I stepped off of that plane a child no more and in that moment, an indomitable spirit was born.