July 1991

#HowIQuitI safely landed at Hewlett Packard in Avondale, PA in the Finance department; almost didn’t get here. I had my job offer at the Franklin Mint, and an opportunity to go back to Playtex in the computer operations department, and then I had an offer to come here to Hewlett Packard, but only working in the Information Technology group. The position and money were better at the Mint, but I decided to go with HP anyway. I was honest about my intentions, and promised I would work hard and they would get the most out of me while I was in IT, but that I would be looking to transfer into Finance as soon as possible. I made another promise, too. After I interviewed for the job at HP, I went to the mall, and was sitting by the fountain, having a diet coke and a cigarette like I typically do on the rare occasion when I get a chance to get out of the house on my own for a little while. I tossed a coin in the fountain and made a vow that if I got hired at HP, I would quit smoking. I felt like it was a pact with God, so as soon as I started working at HP, I stopped smoking. It was the smart thing to do anyway, and was pretty easy since I seldom smoked. Through all these years, Lou never once noticed the smell of cigarettes on me.

I did kind of cheat by smoking though graduation until I actually started work. Lou and my good friend from Playtex and her husband came to my graduation. Unfortunately, Louie cut out immediately after the ceremony to head up to Wilkes Barre because he had work the next day, so just the three of us went out to dinner afterward to celebrate. I was disappointed Lou didn’t take the time to at least stay with us for dinner. Perhaps he had more compelling plans that evening. I don’t think he’s had love affairs, or second families or anything like that. I just know that he’s had lots of opportunities to mess around while he’s away, and that he likes to flirt. It seems like he’s never in his hotel room when I call, either. And he doesn’t come back from his trips all horny like I think he would if he wasn’t having sex somewhere else. And I still have that one woman’s sock that isn’t mine. I don’t know why I keep it. At first I thought I would dramatically pull it out and confront him with the evidence. But I know he would just say I was nuts to try to prove his guilt with a lone random sock.   I haven’t cheated on him in years, and I haven’t been looking for it either. I never actually looked for it to happen when it did, perhaps it was just an inappropriate extension of friendships that I wished could be more; the best I could do given the fact I was married. I never had any plans to leave him, so I don’t really know what the point was for me. I never really felt all that guilty about it either, which is weird, because I should. But I would often wake from sleep with a silent cry out for help…. for Bruce…for Alan… for Paul… for someone to save me. Save me from what, I don’t know, but sometimes my subconscious screamed for help, and I would awaken and almost expect a silent cosmic answer that someone was coming to my rescue. Lou never suspected anything, and I never wanted him to know. I still can’t believe he told me about that woman at the hospital, and about the “hand jobs” in PA. I can’t help but think about it every time he goes up north. And he goes just about every week. If I’m not busy, I find myself thinking about it constantly when he’s away. Is it my own guilt coming from the subconscious because I don’t consciously feel guilty? I don’t even know if I care what he does. I’m busy most of the time, so I really don’t think about it all that much.

I appreciated the company of my one close, good friend and her husband at my graduation, but on such a big day, it made me think about just how few friends and family I have near me. I am sure there were plenty of parties with people from my class at Wharton, but I wasn’t close enough with anyone to have been invited. My family was all away, because one of my sisters, who is only 38, had a heart attack, so my folks were rightfully with her. I went out to spend a week with her when she was released from the hospital to help take care of her and the family. I wanted to drive to Connecticut, but Lou was not comfortable with me going that far by myself, so I flew. I think he really missed me, because after a couple of days, he kept calling to ask when I would be back home. I guess when I think about it, he is hardly ever at home by himself. It’s usually me who’s there alone while he’s away on business. He soon became irritated, and questioned why I had to stay so long. He doesn’t really understand what it means to try to recover from something like this. She couldn’t drive, walk long distances, or even go up and down the stairs normally. She had to go step by step on her butt. Plus, now she had to quit smoking. Her heart attack made it a lot easier for me to quit without hesitation. It used to piss her off so much that I would smoke around her, but not around anyone else in the family. She often asked when I was going to drop my “goodie-goodie routine.” My honest reply was, “Never, if I can avoid it.” I like being perceived as the good girl in the family. In life.

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