If you know anything about me, you already know that the marriage with Rusty won’t work out. I hate thinking about this time in my life. In some ways, I’d be more comfortable leaving it out of the Homey and Me love story. And since this is the Homey and Me love story, and not the Rusty and Me Divorce Story, I’ll spare you most of the heart-wrenching details. However, a few things need to be shared. They will make the Homey and Me story that much better.
I went to school. Rusty worked and did whatever else he did during the day. On Valentine’s day, I was upset because we went out with his parents!
I went to school and finished. Rusty worked and did whatever else he did during the day. We moved out of our basement apartment, and I had friends from my lacrosse team at my apartment complex. (Princess Club!!!) I was sidetracked from Rusty’s absence by the delight of always being with my friends.
I had a baby and stayed home with her. For the first time, I realized how much Rusty was gone. I realized how little we knew of each other. It bothered me. This year was filled with more emotional highs and lows than even our first year of marriage.
A month before the baby was born, Rusty decided to take a trip to Moab that I begged him not to do. I didn’t want to be left alone while he was four hours away. Actually, I wanted for both of us to go somewhere, but he insisted that we couldn’t afford it. He agreed not to go. Until he left, and called me on his way down. Again, it was my friends from the Princess Club and my other friend, Red, that saved me. I would watch movies, laugh, and talk about the gospel with the girls from the Princess Club. Red and I would snowboard nearly twice a week. It was nice to feel loved.
A week after the baby was born, Rusty mentioned that he wanted to go to a Depeche Mode concert.
“What? You? Depeche Mode?”
“Some people from work are going?”
“You know. Some guys.”
“I didn’t know you liked Depeche Mode.”
“I don’t know how comfortable I feel about you being gone yet. We have this new baby. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not like it is your favorite band. You don’t even have a single Depeche Mode album. I should be going to that…not you.”
“Yeah…I know…but it will be fun.”
“I don’t think it is a good idea. I really need you here.”
“I’ll stay home.”
“Thanks, Rusty.” I was proud of his decision.
The next day, around four-thirty, I got a call from Rusty. He was running late at work, and wouldn’t be coming home at all because he was on his way to the Depeche Mode Concert.
Between rejection and Post-Partum Depression, I cried a lot that night. Finally, I was talked into the idea of going out to a diner and staying there nearly all night – so I wouldn’t be home when Rusty got home.
I was distracted by stacks of French Toast and a waitress with a wandering glass eye.
When I got home, Rusty was penitent, crying. He wrote me a letter describing how overwhelmed he felt as a new father. I took his apology seriously and was happy that we were finally on the same page.
One afternoon, a few weeks before the olympics, when our baby was about nine months old, I got a phone call from the Sheriff’s office. She informed me that my car was parked illegally at a rest stop in the Weber Canyon.
“That’s not possible,” I responded. “I’m at home, and my husband has the car. He’s at work.”
I looked at the time. It was about an hour and a half after his shift should have ended. Often, things ran late at work, so I figured that was what had happened.
“Is your car a white toyota tercel with license plate number 1234567?”
“Yes. How did you know?” (Duh! The car was there…but it wasn’t sinking in.)
“It is parked here at the rest stop in Weber Canyon.”
“But that’s not possible. I’m at home, and my husband is at work, with the car.” I paused. Realizing that she wasn’t lying or pranking me, but that the car was not at work. “You know, let me call my husband’s work, and see what is going on.”
“Okay ma’am. Call me back afterward.”
I called his work.
“Hi. May I please speak with Rusty?”
“Rusty? Sorry. He left a while ago. Before three.”
I called Rusty’s cell phone. No answer. I called it again, again, and again. No answer. Rusty?! Where are you?! Why do we have cell phones when you never answer it? You need to answer it now! I need you! No answer.
I called all of Rusty’s family. Nothing.
The Sheriff’s office called me back. “Ma’am, have you heard anything?”
“No. The hospital he works at said that he left at 2:30 ish. I can’t get a hold of his cell. His family, no one knows…I don’t know.” She could hear my tone rising.
“Ma’am, I’m sure that everything will be alright. The sheriff is at the rest stop, looking around. I’m sure that there’s nothing to worry about.”
Her comfort had the opposite effect. Instantly, I remembered the story about a person being murdered at that very rest stop.
“You said your husband has a cell phone,” The secretary at the sheriff’s office broke my desperate train of thought.
“Can you try calling it again.”
“Use your cell. I’ll stay on the line with you.”
“Okay.” I called.
She answered, “Yes, the sheriff sees the cell phone ringing in the car. It looks like he didn’t take the cell with him.”
What was happening.
More calls were made. I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. Parents and siblings were starting to say prayers and come up with action plans. The secretary kept trying to ask me questions on where my husband could be? (he should be at work…or home); did he have a reason to go up the canyon? (No, he doesn’t have anything to do in the canyon. That’s fifteen miles away.); No. No. No. No. No.
Then, she was distracted.
“Hold on a minute, ma’am. I’m getting something from the officer.”
“Well, it looks like everything is okay. It looks like your husband is okay. They found him.”
“Where is he?”
“A woman just dropped him off.”
“A woman just dropped him off to his car.”
A few minutes later, my cell phone rang.
“What’s going on? Why is the sheriff here? Why did you call the police?”
“What do you mean? Where are you? Why are you in the canyon? Who are you with?”
“I was just going out to buy you a Valentine’s present. Then I got a call from Jezebel. She was worried about something that happened at work so we talked about it. But why did you call the police? Why didn’t you just call me?”
“I did call you. You didn’t answer the phone.”
“I accidentally left it in my car. But you didn’t need to worry.”
“I didn’t call the police. They called me. They called me over an hour ago, telling me to move my car or it would be towed. And I thought you were at work. Why are you in the canyon with Jezebel?”
Still. Nothing computed.
About half an hour later, Rusty came home. Trying to console me. I was too naive to feel cuckolded. His parents called. I tried to let everyone down gently, yet honestly. “Rusty was just out with a woman from his work. It looks like it was a misunderstanding.” Maybe they knew better. Probably.
But, somehow Rusty worked his magic. He made up. He cried. He apologized. We went to the temple the next day. He did everything he could to comfort me. And for the most part, it worked.
We moved. Rusty thought that maybe he’d start going to school full-time. He was working full-time, too. I saw him for roughly fifteen minutes a day. I was lonely, but used to it. When he was around, he’d be both charming and negligent. Both faithful and apathetic. For the most part – not any different than day one of our marriage.
We had another child. She was a miracle, in my mind. Rusty and I were rarely intimate. After several weeks/months, I would get to a point of desperation, and then wonder I thought men were nuts for physical touch (and more than that, but this is a family blog). He was working full time and going to school full time. He assured me that it was the stress. I believed it. We never had been very intimate. Nothing was different. I figured that maybe I was getting bored. I also knew that I was getting less appealing. I was big, fat, and pregnant. Who would like that?
There were days, and weeks, and months, that passed without a single glance from Rusty. Let alone touch. During one particularly lonely spell, I cried myself to sleep one night. The next, I couldn’t deal with it. (I’m Italian, after all…no bottling up things for me!) I pled with him – why don’t we kiss? why don’t you want to be with me? I thought guys couldn’t go this long? Why do I have to beg for intimacy from you? He told me that if I took better care of myself then maybe he’d be interested. Inwardly, I argued, “I’m eight months pregnant! You did this to me!” Outwardly, I laid on the bed, wishing I could cry louder, make a scene, or throw a vase.
Instead, I fell asleep, and I dreamed that I was at a formal dance (and not pregnant!). Rusty was there, but he wasn’t paying much attention to me. I was standing around, sad and bored, when I noticed Snoopy. I ran up to him, happy.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to the party.” he answered.
“Would you like to dance?”
“Snoopy. I’m married. I can’t.”
“I’ll ask Rusty.” And he did. Rusty looked at him and at me.
“Whatever. I don’t care. No problem, dude.” Rusty couldn’t be bothered with what he was doing.
Snoopy then took my hand, and kissed it.
Then I woke up. Elated, shocked, guilty, then, looking at Rusty, dismayed. I hated that I had woken from the dream. And I hated that the most loved I had ever felt during my marriage was when I dreamed of another man.
I wrote about the dream in my journal- both treasuring and despising it. Rusty never knew about it. I don’t think that he would have cared, either. Rusty was simply too busy or stressed.
More of the same. Rusty? Who was he? But I was happier. I had friends. The Princess Club and played lacrosse, watched movies, and laughed. Red and I scrapbooked and snowboarded. I had also made a new friend, Blythe, who had two sons the ages of my two daughters. We walked and talked every morning. We took our kids to the library, made crafts, and had pizza parties…so…Rusty? Rusty who?
A threshold: I finally hit it. Nothing made sense to me. Rusty was in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency, and we went to the temple every week. We prayed together. I made sure our family read scriptures. We were doing all of the things that should make us feel more secure, but none of it seemed to work.
Years earlier, this insecurity would have translated to a night of crying, pleading, and yelling at Rusty. Now, I just didn’t care.
Rusty went away for a long weekend with a friend. He didn’t call when he arrived into San Francisco. He didn’t call for four days. He didn’t call to tell me his plane landed okay. He didn’t call me to say goodnight. He didn’t call me to see how the kids were. I could have tracked him down, but I figured that the news hadn’t reported a plane crash, so he wasn’t dead. And I didn’t care either way. I had just started a new project – Illustrating Lehi’s Dream. I had started reading a new book – Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner). I had my kids, my friends, and I had my hilarious brothers to talk to. Why did I need Rusty?
Ultimately, this line of thinking had me alarmed. I wrote in my journal and came to the conclusion that if we didn’t fix whatever seemed to be broken, then we might not make it. Prophetically, I wrote, If our marriage continues like this, we’ll be divorced soon. I don’t think we’d make it even another year.
When Rusty got back from San Francisco, I told him, matter-of-factly, about my worries. I reported to him out of a sense of duty – not rage. There’s a difference, you know. I told Rusty that really I didn’t care that he didn’t call me, that I didn’t care about my marriage to him, and that I didn’t really think I even cared about him. I felt like I didn’t even know him. I told him that I wanted to be mad at him, but didn’t have the energy or desire to. My indifference was alarming.
“I suppose we ought to talk to a marriage counselor.” I suggested. He promised me that things would change.
And they did. We didn’t see a marriage counselor, but about three and a half weeks after this discussion, we suddenly picked up our family, and moved 2,000 miles to Pennsylvania – off to start a new life where Rusty would go to school at Temple University, and we’d finally be progressing toward a future.
The change was my last hope.