“Tell me a story, Pew.
What kind of story, child?
A story with a happy ending.
There’s no such thing in all the world.
As a happy ending?
As an ending.”

-Light Housekeeping, by Jeanette Winterson

I was in the children’s room at the library in town with the kiddo, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my former neighbor, Anna. I was happy to see her of course, but she was supposed to be in Georgia, where she’d moved with her young son to live with her love after three years of long distance courtship. That was in the summer. I’d thought of her every now and then, and imagined her in the warm winters, working at a school, taking care of her son, who’s autistic, and singing beautiful notes to her love with that strong, melodious voice of hers; the one I’d hear in unexpected places, like the afternoon in RiteAid when the kiddo was roaming the aisles singing the Carpenter’s “Close to You”, and suddenly, Anna’s familiar voice joined in. Or the afternoon after school, out on the steps of my apartment, when she’d sung a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” with such a warm arc of power in her voice, that I’d gotten goosebumps and tears in my eyes just listening. We were very sad to see her move, and the kiddo looked for her for months afterward.

She was supposed to be happy in Georgia. Fulfilled. The end.

But it’s true,  stories never end. Not with new locations, characters, and scenarios. They just move on. Detour. Or turn around. Backward. Like hers did. The man in her life hit her. And she did the right thing, and fled. Now she’s back in town, with no job, few possessions.  And her deep faith. I feel sad. But I’m still happy to see her. And it’s going to get better. It will.

That’s what I tell the people in my life who ask me how I’m doing since I made my decision a little over a year ago. “It gets better and better. All of the time.” I can say that with conviction now, but I couldn’t imagine it during the bleak and desperate days at the shelter, where I’d had two months to find a place to live, with no money and no job. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what was out there. I was safe, but I was not at home. There was no home.

The beginning of that story was the hardest part. Everything—finances, school, job hunting, apartment seeking, court appearances, therapy appointments for both of us—all happening at once. So many forms to fill out. Overwhelming.

I plowed through it, took deep breaths, and trudged along. I felt angry sometimes. Resentful. My confidence is still shot, and I have trouble silencing what I call “the tape” of various putdowns and cutting judgements I’d shook off for years and years that are still hardwired into my psyche. But there is so much to be grateful for, too. Angels are the humans walking among us. It’s true. They’re around. I met many. Couldn’t have come this far without them.

Anna will meet some too. It’s that time of the year, and she deserves them.

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1 Response to “”


  1. 1 Doktor Holocaust November 22, 2008 at 4:30 am

    I hope things go well for anna. I have a copy of “The tape” as well, but as time passes I am gradually recording over all those internalized put-downs and insults, and until that process completes I always have the option of playing a different mental tape to drown it out.


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