Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Do

Kerry and I met when I was a junior in high school and he was just out of his trade school college, earning a certificate in auto mechanics from Williston, ND. I was walking to my Aunt Florence’s house in Palermo after staying in town after school to work on the school newspaper. A car with two guys in the front seat and one sprawled out in back, drove up beside me talking as I walked ( it just hit me how that would be different these days, I'd be frightened). The passenger ask if I knew who he was? I said," No should I"? He said he was Lori Picek’s brother. Lori was dating Kelly Moore and I’d known Kelly my whole life, as his Dad and my Dad were best friends. I talked to the passenger a bit and noticed his pretty eyes that kind of danced when he talked and were rimmed with curly long eyelashes. His name was Kerry and he asked if I wanted to go to the state line club with them ( you could drink there at 18). I pretended to go in Florence's house and ask Mom. She actually said I could, but I came out and said I couldn’t. I had anxiety even back then and wasn’t about to get in a car with three guys who were drinking that I didn’t know. I wasn't scared of them but didn't want to get in a car accident.

I few nights later I was driving around in Stanley which is what we farm girls did when we went to town, and I kept meeting this cute little white car which swerved at me every time I met it! After meeting the little white car several times, the driver stuck his arm out the window, and motioned for me to pull over to a side street. It was Kerry Picek again. Pulling into a vacant parking lot, our cars facing opposite directions, this time  I noticed he had long hair to his shoulders, the same dancing eyes, white teeth with a wide split in them and silver wire rim glasses. The car was as cute as he was and I felt an immediate attraction unlike any I'd experienced before.

Later in the week there was a dance at the memorial building in Stanley, where my favorite local band Podipto, was playing cover tunes. From the dance floor I happened to look out to the people on the sidelines and Kerry was one of them. We left the dance together and  he told me he was living in his Grandmas basement after an argument with his stepfather. We sat there in the basement talked for the longest time before I said I need to get going.

We became good friends, but I always said I liked him more than he liked me. I was a tomboy. I may have plowed a field or something as equally girly before I came to town, not because I wanted to but I had to with just Sonny and us girls to do farm work. Plus I was never a tiny girl. Anyway, he played me around in the strangest ways. He didn’t really want to say we were dating but yet if I dated anyone else he ran interference. For me there was always something different about my feelings for him than anyone else. I used to get teased about how crazy in love I was with him. As soon as high school ended I moved to Stanley, got a job at the Two Way Inn and he worked construction. Some nights he’d sleep on my couch and I’d bake brownies etc. for his lunch just because if felt right to be together but Mom had the "good girl" thing drilled in my head tight!

Finally,  I got tired of his silly games and decided I had to come to terms with the fact that I liked him more than he liked me, I needed to accept that and I was moving on! I moved home and enrolled in college.  When I walked away he missed me and realized he loved me too. He found me a few weeks later and was ready to not only date, but get married. We got married quickly on Nov 17,1973, a month after I turned 18. My idea of marriage was immature. I thought nothing would be better than being with him every day of my life. I literally had a horse and a 13” black and white tv. He literally had a stereo and a car. That what we brought into the marriage.

Didn’t take long before we had some horrible fights. Kerry was very verbally and sometimes physically abusive and an angry guy. Anger that had nothing to do with me. He became extremely jealous and bossy. I fought back after awhile because I wasn't about to be bossed around by anybody. We had Brendon in 1976 and Shelbey in 1979. They witnessed some crazy fights! I realized I had married someone far different from me, but I loved him so much.

Over the years we held on to our passion and commitment to each other.  The explosive anger issues however were always in the way of a peaceful existence that I desperately needed as someone with anxiety issues. My Mom got sick with Alzheimer's disease and passed away about the same time Syd went through a rough time in Minot being bullied by jealous girls, and I brought her to Phoenix to live, to protect her and she's had a great life here. Kerry planed on coming, and wanted to get Syd out of Minot as well,  but couldn’t transfer here without losing seniority and that's a big deal on the railroad. So we have traveled back and forth for ten years almost. After I was here in Phx and away from the anger I'd always been around awhile, I noticed my own reactions when something that would have sent Kerry into a fit of anger, Jerry (my sister’s husband ) handled calmly. I grew resentful at Kerry that his anger had stirred such emotions over small things. Not to make this an even close comparison but like when someone comes home from war and hears a boom and it brings up feelings... all these years I grew to expect anger over simple daily frustrations…I got distant towards Kerry and eventually Kerry went in his own direction for awhile.

Ten years after moving here and 40 years of marriage later, we are starting to figure it out,... I hope, (never say you have something figured out or it will come back and bite you). We have been put through life like a salad shooter…fast, furious, not always fun but spit out the other end in some kind of a blend that seems to work.

Some things I always loved about Kerry was that he always took the responsibility for taking care of the family financially, and the rest was my responsibility. Ever since he got on with the railroad in 1988, I have only done odd jobs that worked around being there for the kids because his was a 24/7 job. He never told me what color I could paint a wall, what to cook or even what to do with the kids. He always stood behind me when I laid down the law with the kids. I remember the night before I started college when Syd was in the 7th grade, I stayed up all night bawling because I had spent 500.00 on books and $2500. on tuition. He got up at some point to use the bathroom and came out in the living room where I was sobbing away. I told him I was stressed out, what if I can’t do the work? What if I waste a bunch of money, what if…and he said,( and this is a direct quote). “If you go to school and don’t like it, you won’t wonder anymore if you should have gone to college. I said I was going to take care of you when I married you, and you were going to take care of me, and the kids. I don’t care if times have changed since those days, nothings changed between us that I know of. Stop pressuring yourself and get your ass to bed.”

I loved him for that. Kerry is a guy of few reassuring words, but when he says something it means a lot because in a few words he nails it. He’s a complicated person, a wounded person that is his own worst enemy. Sometimes the depth of his anger surprises even me, but under it he is a soft, sensitive soul. He makes me laugh, pisses me off to the max, hurts me the deepest, as I do him but I can count on him and he can count on me. Was it a match made in heaven or hell, I dunno…cuz its been both. Sometimes sheer determination keeps us together.

One time we were at the fair in Minot at a concert. Full well knowing the answer I asked Kerry, “how come you have never held me on your shoulders so I can see the concert like a lot of these guys do their women?” Without even blinking he fired back, “well climb on, but its gonna be a quick peak before we both hit the ground!” Then we laughed till we were about sick! A few years ago we went on a summer road trip down the Oregon coast and after four or five days having fun in the car we got in a hell of a big fight over the radio outside of Reno. I was driving and slammed on the brakes and about dumped him out on the side of the road! It was a long silent ride for awhile, until one of us burst out laughing at the insanity of it and got over it. That’s how we handle things these days…get mad, get over it, it’s a new day.

Long marriages aren’t easy, it takes commitment and always keeping your eye on the horizon, instead of the potholes in the road, and hang on to the vision of where you want this to all end. It’s like you got married, expecting the Hawaiian tropics and instead winding up in a  jungle slashing weeds and fighting for survival…later you think… well it wasn’t what I expected in my eighteen year old mind, but parts of it were beautiful, parts were harrowing, but every bit of it was worth this incredible experience. 

My wish for my own kids is that when they tie the knot, they tie it good and tight and hang on, it’s a wild ride but so worth it in the end when you look back at the highs the lows and the children you've raised and parented together. In Nov. it will be 40 years, which seems impossible. Happy Anniversary Kerry! Love you!

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