Chapter 55, Hi Honey, I’m Home, To Stay
With my secret puppet shadow permanently in the memory trunk, Succubus securely trussed, I devoted myself, as promised on my wedding day, to husband and family, those betrayed for so long.
Life has turning points, transitions, milestones, call them what you may but they’re real. Some are written herein. After seven years of re-committed faithfulness after the last gasp, another occurred. I became a great-grandmother, a blessing but an unmistakable old age signpost. Everyone knows, great-grandma means, old woman. Becoming so didn’t cause unhappiness. My tears at the birth were joyous acceptance of my new title.
Children, grandchildren, now a new wave, great-grandchildren, as I’ve repeated, luck’s better than smart. For the children and grandchildren, I baked cinnamon rolls, made our yard their playground, was involved with their schools, lucky me. With more luck, I may again and possible "peek" at another wave in 20 years but don't wish such. Like Dad, I'm superstitious. To wish is to invite ill luck. Instead, like Mom, I pray and accept, pray for more luck but also accept God, even in God’s strange ways.
Despite a life of adultery, I raised children, happy, successful ones and helped them raise theirs well too. None faced puberty alone nor were their minds scarred with visions of hell like mine. I’m happy with my little tribe.
Fear constantly stalked me in the past. I changed from the girl who wore the Saint Christopher’s medal and wanted to be a nun to a teenager taking soapy showers who feared hell, then changed from dutiful, faithful wife to an adulteress who feared exposure. Now in old age fear fades and bows to past’s concealment fog. Each wanton sexual encounter changed me, some a little, others a lot.
We're imprinted by youth's diecast. Despite many transformations, I remain the poor, Catholic, Asian girl born in a rural orchard and raised in an East San Jose dysfunctional family. Now again, the dutiful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, I pray and light candles in church. I’m back to before puberty.
In between, adultery’s my sin. Looking back, I wonder why. It makes no sense now. My libido, stronger than most, is not adultery’s blame. I was sexually satisfied during faithful marriage bouts. When it occurred, however, I couldn’t stop myself. It took time to accept, I was a serial cheater. I lied to and betrayed those loved, including myself. I console myself none were hurt because none knew. There were many times, however, my husband suspected despite my spy’s cover. His unconfirmed suspicions bedevil him and separate us. I did hurt him.
For a long time, I thought I loved two men and hated one. Re-writing my diary, I realize I hate no one and there’s only one I loved and only one who loved me, my husband. Edward never loved me. With age’s perspective, I accept I was his Asian fetish doll, replaced by another. The clothes, jewelry, perfume; his guiding and applying makeup, painting my nails, combing my hair, his sexual transforming me were his playing with his Asian doll. He loved his doll, the doll he created and played with. That was his infatuation, not me. In honesty, he never said he loved me. Why did I think he did? Because I loved being his Asian doll.
He did change me. With the putty of my poor background, low self-esteem; my naivety, he re-constructed me into his fantasy. The clothes, jewelry, makeup, Porsche, trips to San Francisco; his Stanford internship, knowledge of anatomy, sex games, charm, intelligence, attention, swayed me because I wanted to be what he created, even if I was only his sex doll. I became addicted by his transformation, over and over seeking the initial rush of crossing his threshold.
I was awed by Edward’s sophistication but know now it was only his money, not him which impressed me. It was his money which bought the perks of Stanford, Porsche, fine wine, epicurean food and majestic hotels with views which were so enchanting. These had nothing to do with elegant urbanity. It was just money, his money
I haven’t forgiven Paul or myself. I limped on. He too changed me. I blamed him but it was me who initially flirted. I didn’t have to grovel to his commands. Like the ping pong paddled software executive, it was something in me which sought debasement. It was penance of a sort for my wantonness. I gained an understanding of a harsh truth. He was the inverse addicted rush experienced with Edward. It doesn’t matter. It happened. It’s the past. I escaped. How can I condemn him for what I did and what he taught me about myself?
Do I have regrets? Of course. I have many. Those who say they don’t lack honest hindsight. When I trucently slapped the girl, who insulted my father’s reputation in high school, I was ready for a nail scratching, hair-pulling catfight. Instead, her reaching up her hand in shock to touch the slapped cheek, her crying wail as she ran away, my learning of her personal tragic puppet shadow, changed my rage to remorse.
In the Mother Superior’s office, learning, while being scolded, her parents were divorcing, I rued if only I could take that slap back. It was too late. Time and space, we’re bound by them. Once done I couldn’t change what occurred. Then and there, I learned the meaning of turning the other cheek.
My biggest regret is for my husband, his knowing I had sex with another from the swinging fiasco, his life being a lie from then on, the bedeviled pain his suspicions of my wantonness caused. He’s never known me, the whole me, the wayward puppet shadow, the hidden me, the spy lying next to him in bed. I regret the energy and time spent for others meant less for him and the unmentioned divide it causes between us in old age, the topic never raised but always there. I would trade all my affair memories for another child by him. In old age, the time and place to turn the other cheek on my wanton past came at last. It’s not, however, the time and place for redemption. It’s for me to accept, what is, is, only the perception of what was changes.
I realize when he stopped me on the sidewalk while I held my Pee Che folder in defense, it was the most wonderful thing which happened to me. He is my Camelot’s king. Together we have a happy little tribal kingdom, greater than any suave money prop castle of Edward’s.
Yet, all is not well in our Camelot. Like Guinever, I complicated the happily ever after-ing. I can never confess to him and destroy his deceived reality happiness. Why be Mordred and replace it with a harsher truth like my mother did to me? I don’t want him to lose his old age’s bliss with a truth which cripples and destroys. Yet he doesn’t and can never know me, the whole me. This I regret most.
I don’t know if he had a secret puppet shadow, a hidden life unknown to me. My affairs may have blinded me to his. He left on business trips, went to other worlds alone, like me when driving the Desoto around the corner from home. If he had a secret puppet shadow, an Alviso train kiss if there were others or worse, he loved another, I don’t want to know a reality which destroys my old age’s bliss. Why throw out our fictitious happiness for harsh unknown truth which can’t be revoked once learned?
We never know ourselves completely, let alone another. I do know, I’ve been selfish keeping and protecting my secret puppet shadow. What about love? Love is being unselfish for another. I’ve been unselfish too. What’s the ultimate act of unselfishness? Surrendering one’s life to save another’s. If faced with this, either or, I’d freely given my life for my children and, yes, my husband. I would have followed hubby for better or worse and back to Tropicana Village poverty if that’s where the path of life led. I would never abandon him and would die to save him.
Would he die for me? I think so but as the Vietnamese woman once said.
“The worse in the war is finding out what you will do to survive.”
I do know he loved and loves me in the reality I know. I know, I loved and love him in his reality known. We gave each other wonderful lives even if our lives are different than what we believe.
With my secret and perhaps his, we are apart but together, happily ever after-ing in our ersatz Camelot. So, we sleep, toss and turn, in our bed of marriage, omission lies.
The secrets of my husband's biological father, my elder brother's illegitimacy, Mom's brothel imprisonment, her forced abortion, and especially my wantonness are specter ghosts who haunt my happy little kingdom’s perimeter. I stand guard against them, a burden I carry alone.
I went to Maui on a pilgrim’s search for Mom’s pineapple plantation. It’s gone, remembered locally like the orchards of Silicon Valley but gone, now a subdivision of homes and other lives. Like Dad's Alviso, time and events broke with its past. I couldn't even find my grandparents graves and accepted I'd never have grandparents, something missed. The two cousins tracked down provided no common recollections, never heard of an auntie who sailed away and we didn’t even look alike. It was as if going to Atlanta, Georgia seeking Tara after reading Gone With The Wind, it’s gone.
Hopefully, a DNA sample someday connects me to villages in Luzon the Philippines and Shandong, China.
Some will say I’m not just old. They’ll say I’m, old and tainted, a used woman, an untouchable, contaminated because of many men. Promiscuousness is a female stigma but a male bravado. It’s true, there were many men. Has the unused, untouched, pure virgin, aged better once the old maid? Her wrinkles come, her breath sours, her joints creak, she eventually stoops too.
God takes us back used or not but always takes us. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, there’s no escape, that’s our fate. I make no apology for Vixen’s adventures. She pleased me, gave birth twice and withered no worse than if a virgin.
It’s better to be used and enjoyed than spoil on the shelf unopened, is my reply.
Author Notes: Looking back we all have regrets but our fate is the past is the past and we must accept what happened, did, including our role in it.