PART 8— Changes
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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO – Refuge
Andy was crying when she came to Jordan 's front door. She kept knocking on the door and no one answered. What should I do now? she asked herself in despair. I don't know where else to go. She finally sat down on the porch steps and continued to cry, burying her head in her arms.
Jordan pulled up in her SUV a few minutes later—having gone to fill up her gas tank—and saw Andy sitting on her porch steps. She saw Andy was crying. As she got out and approached her, she was aware that something awful had happened. Why else would Andy be here? Without a word, she brought her into the house.
Jordan had lit a fire earlier in the afternoon in anticipation of a cold and stormy evening. They sat down on the comfortable leather couch, and Andy continued to cry as she gazed into the fire. Jordan didn't know what to say and didn't know what else to do, so she got up and brewed a pot of tea. She thought the warm drink might calm Andy down and then she would tell her what was wrong.
As they shared the pot of tea, Andy's crying gradually lessened. She welcomed the hot drink—and the box of Kleenex—but didn't feel like talking right now. At Jordan 's urging, she took off her winter coat, and Jordan hung it on a hook behind Megan's bedroom door.
Andy watched Jordan as she came back into the living room and sat down next to her. The tears began to well up in her eyes again. She couldn't hold them back. For a second time, they broke loose in a torrent and coursed down her cheeks. She finally gave out a deep, agonizing sob, not being able to hold the words in any longer, and cried, “Oh, God, I can't believe he did this! Why? Why wouldn't he just talk to me? He didn't even want to hear what I had to say!” She buried her head in her hands and then bent over holding her stomach, convulsing with the sobs she couldn't hold back.
“What do you mean, Andy?” Jordan asked. “What happened?” She already knew the answer—or knew enough to figure it out.
Andy had come by Jordan 's house only to talk to her, seeking her advice as a friend who would understand. Now she was embarrassed as well as distraught, as she never intended on breaking down like this and blubbering like an idiot!
She replied, sobbingly, “Ken found some lesbian books in my study. He swore at me and kicked me out of the house. He said he never wanted to see me again.”
Just what I thought, Jordan thought. Her husband found out she's a lesbian.
Andy's tears were flowing freely now. The sobs didn't look like they were going to subside any time soon. Jordan reached over and placed her hands on Andy's shoulders. She pulled her back up to a sitting position and said in a soft voice, “I'm sorry, Andy. You knew it would happen eventually. It was bound to. And you know the kind of person Ken is. The fact that he wouldn't listen to you proves that, doesn't it? You might have delayed the inevitable, but I don't think you could have done or said much of anything to prevent it. God, I'm so sorry, Andy.”
She began to draw Andy into her broad shoulder with her strong, yet amazingly gentle arm. “Come here,” she coaxed. She needed to rescue this wonderful woman from her hurt, yet proceeded with caution. She couldn't let her own emotions get caught up in the moment.
Andy's sobs continued as she made a move to resist, pushing away. “I'll be all right,” she said through her tears.
Jordan said, “It's okay,” insistently pulling her in closer with her left arm.
Andy leaned her head into Jordan 's shoulder. Oh, God, it feels so right to be close to this marvelous woman. Her sobs began to quiet down in Jordan 's warm and comforting arms. She turned and raised her face so that her lips were against Jordan 's throat, and a choking “thank you” issued from her.
Jordan leaned her head over and lightly kissed her on the forehead. She pulled her face away slowly and looked searchingly at Andy. She is so beautiful, even when she's crying. And her dark-brown eyes with the little wrinkles at the corners—
Andy reached up her left arm and wrapped it around Jordan 's neck, not fully realizing what she was doing. She closed her eyes and ever so gently began to pull Jordan 's head down to hers.
”Aunt Jordan !” ten-year-old Megan hollered, dashing through the front door and letting the screen door bang behind her. She stopped suddenly and stared at her aunt sitting on the couch with another woman leaning on her shoulder and then yelled out with enthusiasm, “Suzanne's mother said I could go swimming with Suzanne this afternoon. Is it all right with you?”
Jordan and Andy pulled apart instantly, and Jordan turned to face her niece. “Why are you shouting, Megan?” Jordan said, shouting back, clearly unsettled. “I'm not deaf!” She and Andy both rose from the couch at the same time.
“I'm sorry,” Megan said apologetically, hanging her head. Aunt Jordan rarely yelled at her. She looked up from the top of her eyes, and seeing Andy, she squealed in delight. “I know you !” You're the woman at the yoga studio!”
Then she hesitated. “What's the matter?” she asked, concerned. “Why are you crying?”
Andy was wiping her eyes with another Kleenex Jordan had hastily stuffed in her hand when Megan startled them.
“ Jordan thought I may have gotten a cinder in my eye from the fireplace, and she was checking it out,” Andy lied. “Actually, it's an allergy,” she continued, still lying, “and my eyes water some of the time.”
They all stood around rather uncomfortably, no one saying a word. It was one of the few times Jordan was at a loss for words.
Andy finally managed to say, “So you're Megan.”
“Yes.” Megan looked at her curiously, not a bit shy. “What's your name?” she returned.
“My name is Andrea, but most people call me Andy. You can call me Andy, if you like.” She hoped her face was regaining its natural color after all the crying she had done.
“Coool! How long have you known my Aunt Jordan?”
“I've known her about”—she hesitated—“eight months or so. I was one of the students in the workshop she just had. But I first saw her at the Citadel Mall a short while before Christmas last year.”
She wiped her eyes again and then blew her nose as she remembered how embarrassed she had been—spilling her coffee at her feet right in front of Jordan. “Your Aunt Jordan was the paramedic from the fire department who saved the life of an elderly lady who passed out in the mall during the superstorm.”
“Really?” Megan said, eyes widening. She knew her aunt worked for the fire department, but Jordan rarely talked about what she did. Megan had not been in Colorado when the superstorm came through, so she beamed from ear to ear as Andy went on to tell her of her aunt's heroic exploits in the mall.
Jordan was deep in thought while Megan and Andy were talking. She was not focusing on what they were saying. Her mind was running in a different direction altogether, and she barely heard Megan questioning Andy.
I threw Ellie out and look what happened to her. Now Ken has thrown Andy out. There is no way I'm going to let anything happen to her like I did to Ellie! I'm going to do what I need to do to ensure that doesn't happen.
“Megan,” Jordan said carefully, when she sensed a pause in the conversation. “Can I talk to you for just a minute?”
“Sure, Aunt Jordan ,” Megan said, as she turned her attention to her aunt. “You rescue people a lot, don't you? You don't just put out fires!”
Jordan blushed, as Megan unknowingly opened up the opportunity for what she was going to say. “Yes, I guess I do. That's part of being a paramedic as well as a firefighter. And that's what I'd kind of like to talk to you about.”
She went on. “Megan, Andy was telling me her husband had to go away on a business trip and was going to be gone for quite a while. She said she didn't like to stay in her house alone because of all the crazy weather blackouts we've been having. She's afraid to be by herself that long and something might go wrong. So I thought she could stay with us—while her husband is gone. Would that be all right with you?”
Jordan looked back and forth between and Andy as she fabricated this very believable tale.
“Coool!” Megan responded again, using her favorite expression she had picked up from school. “That's okay with me! That's sort of rescuing someone, isn't it? And besides, summer isn't over yet, and maybe Andy could do things with me while you're at work.” Megan's admiration for Andy was genuine, as evidenced by her sparkling smile.
Andy stared wide-eyed at Jordan , wondering if she had heard right. Jordan looked at her with a questioning expression on her face, as if to say “Please?” Andy smiled slightly.
She hadn't known what she was going to do, or where she was going to go. But she certainly never expected Jordan to say anything like this! It kind of took her aback as she gazed into Jordan 's questioning face. The decision was made for her, and she had not said a word. She never would have asked her if she could stay with her. Jordan had already done so much for her in simply listening to her and understanding her. She had given her invaluable advice concerning her new sexual orientation throughout the time they had gotten together. She wouldn't have asked her to do more than that.
“Well, can I?” Megan said.
“Can you what ?” Jordan asked distractedly. She was going back over in her thoughts what she had just said to Megan, and her mind was momentarily blank in regards to anything else.
“Go swimming!” Megan replied, exasperated.
“Yes,” Jordan answered, pulling her gaze and mind back to Megan. “I think the sun is probably warm enough this afternoon, and I doubt it will rain till later today. But don't be in the pool too long. You know how easily you burn. And you know to get out of the pool when the clouds start rolling off the mountains.”
She looked at her watch and noticed it was one-forty-five. “And you can stay at Suzanne's till dinnertime. Okay?”
“Okay. Coool!” she said again. “I'll go get my swimsuit. I can take the big beach towel, too, can't I?” She hurried off to her bedroom without waiting for an answer and was back with her things almost immediately. She turned around as she opened the front door and said, “Bye Aunt Jordan. Bye Andy. See you later.” Then she was racing across the yard to Suzanne's house across the street.
The screen door banged behind her, and Andy saw her look both ways before she crossed the street. Then she turned to watch Jordan , who had walked over to place another log on the fire. She looked at Jordan 's broad, strong back, and thought how gentle her arm had felt around her, how soft her lips had been on her forehead. She wondered what would have happened if Megan had not noisily announced her presence when she raced into the house.
Oh, my God, Andy thought, closing her eyes. What am I thinking! Nothing would have happened. I've only known for a few months that I'm gay. I wouldn't know how to love a woman! Jordan has been with women for years! She's had lots of experience. Why would she want anything to do with me ? I don't know anything . To say nothing of the fact that I'm so much older than she is!
Shape up, she told herself. We're just friends. That's all we'll ever be. And why am I thinking of such things when Ken has just thrown me out of my own home? Where in the world has my mind gone to?
She kicked herself for ever considering the possibility that Jordan 's comforting arm and kiss on her forehead was anything more than concern for her wellbeing. There were other things she should be worrying about right now.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE – Closing a Chapter
Andy folded a leg under herself as she sat back down on the couch and waited until Jordan finished stoking the logs. It took her an unnecessarily long time.
Andy had felt the chill in the air when she first arrived at Jordan 's and knew they were in for another cold and rainy night. At least it was far enough along in the summer that it wouldn't be snow this time! Not that she minded snow. She loved it. But enough was enough!
She wondered when these storms would end. Yet she knew in the aftermath of the superstorm last December, that severe storms would become more numerous and vicious. They were harbingers of the global superstorm that was waiting just on the horizon. She shivered unconsciously as she thought of the consequences of no one doing anything meaningful about global warming and how the storms had already increased in intensity and frequency.
Jordan sat back down on the couch, moved the teapot over, and stretched her legs out on the coffee table after taking her boots off. She noticed Andy's arms hugging herself and thought she might be cold even though she was sitting in front of the fire.
“I'll be right back,” she said and went back to her bedroom. She looked around for a spare blanket and then remembered they were all locked up in the former guest room. So she pulled a blanket off her own bed and brought it to Andy.
“Here.” She dropped the blanket in Andy's lap. “Put this around you.”
Andy reached for the blanket and spread it out and then started to wrap it around her shoulders.
“Thank you. I guess I didn't realize I am a little chilly. This really is a nice blanket,” she said as she rubbed her hands over the soft acrylic. “So soft.” She looked up and smiled at her friend.
“It's one of my favorites,” Jordan said, wishing her arms were wrapped around Andy instead of her blanket. It was wonderful to hold her the short time she did before Megan boisterously ran into the house. She sat back down on the couch and comfortably stretched her legs out again.
“So, when do you want to go back to your house and pick up some things? You won't have any trouble with that, will you?”
Jordan matter-of-factly assumed that Andy was going to stay. She turned her head with a questioning look in her eyes when Andy didn't respond, and said, “You are going to stay with us, aren't you?”
Andy had finished straightening the blanket across her shoulders and had returned her gaze to the fire. “I'm not sure I should,” she replied, looking up at Jordan .
She was relieved that the decision was already settled for her, if she would just say yes. “Even though I have nowhere else to go. I have no family here. I have no job. I don't have much money.”
Especially now that I had to pay off my credit card, which included the charge for the chakra workshop. I don't have much left in my bank account.
She couldn't go to Jessica's. How could she explain the situation to her ? Or to her husband Bob? Bob would raise the roof! He was just as close-minded as Ken. She thought deeply for a moment.
Jordan was sitting quietly beside her without saying another word—waiting.
“But only for a few days, Jordan ,” Andy finally said, reaching out and placing her hand on Jordan 's leg. “Until I figure out what I'm going to do. I don't want to impose on you any longer than I have to. I could stay at a motel—” She thought she could charge a room at a motel to her credit card and worry about paying for it later.
Jordan was acutely aware of Andy's hand on her leg and sought to regain her composure without moving her leg away.
“You're not imposing, Andy. Megan would love to have you stay with us. She thinks a lot of you. She saw you coming down the stairs at the yoga studio last April after I had put up flyers for the workshop. Then she saw you at Home Depot when we were there. She said, ‘I want to be just like her ,' Jordan mimicked, giving her that lopsided smile that Andy had come to adore. “And didn't you notice just now as you and she were talking, how she took to you right away? She'd be disappointed if you didn't stay.”
“That's very sweet,” Andy said, smiling back. She squeezed Jordan 's leg briefly and then removed her hand. “But what about you , Jordan? Aren't I imposing on you ?” She looked steadily into Jordan 's light-blue eyes. “I mean…isn't there someone…doesn't someone already—? The words trailed off, as Andy waited expectantly for Jordan to affirm what she was trying to say. She didn't want to stay if Jordan had someone else staying with her.
“Actually, no. It's just me and Megan. It's been like this since the superstorm.” Jordan paused for a moment in reflection, took a deep breath, and then continued. “We could use some company. As you can see, we don't have a television. So it gets pretty boring sitting around here playing Scrabble with just the two of us in the evenings when I'm not at the firehouse. Megan even beats me sometimes.” She raised her questioning eyebrows again, smiling. “We really could use another player to make it more exciting.”
Jordan put a hand on Andy's shoulder and said softly, “Stay as long as you want—please. You're not imposing.”
Andy breathed a sigh of relief as she said, “All right. If you really want me to.” She saw the seriousness that had suddenly come over Jordan 's countenance.
“Yes, I really want you to,” Jordan said, as sincerely and convincingly as she knew how.
Jordan reached for her boots by the couch. “I think we'd better get going over to your house and get some of your stuff before it gets too late. Is that okay with you?”
She heard Andy's affirmative answer at the same time she was lacing up. Then she stood and picked up the teapot and started walking toward the kitchen as she talked.
“I have what used to be a guest bedroom. I use it for storage now. But I'll move all that stuff down to the basement tomorrow. Megan has a rollaway bed in her room that she uses when Suzanne spends the night. We can move that into the guest bedroom temporarily. We'll make other sleeping arrangements for tonight.”
Jordan 's voice continued nonstop, as she loaded dirty dishes in the sink to wash later. “I have plenty of sheets and blankets, and a couple of extra pillows. Then I'll find something to put clothes in. I'm sure I have a small dresser with a mirror down in the basement that's just sitting there looking lonely. There's a good-sized closet to hang some stuff in, too. Then if you want to bring some books over, your computer—or whatever—we have plenty of other space here. I want you to feel comfortable.”
Andy thought Jordan was doing an awful lot of talking and planning. She tossed the blanket aside and followed her into the kitchen with the empty cups. She thought she better interrupt her before Jordan made her a joint owner in the house mortgage!
“ Jordan , wait a minute. I don't know if Ken will even let me back into the house to get my things. Maybe we shouldn't go.”
Jordan moved the teapot over on the counter away from the sink and took the cups from Andy's hands. Then looking squarely into Andy's eyes, she said, “That's why I'm going with you. If he says anything, I'll smash his face!”
They both laughed as the tension suddenly released. Andy looked at Jordan and pictured her six-foot muscular body towering over Ken's five-foot-eight, lean, 140-pound frame, looking down into his eyes and saying, “Andy wants to get some of her things. You got a problem with that?”
She turned away and couldn't help laughing even more to herself—irrationally, of course—about that which was no laughing matter.
* * * * * *
Jordan turned her SUV into the Tavanaugh's driveway with Andy sitting in the front seat with her. They'd left Andy's car at her house. She was sure her SUV had enough room for what Andy would need temporarily. She looked carefully around the neighborhood as she got out of her vehicle. She remembered responding to an emergency here last week just a couple of houses down and across the street from Andy. Her fire station was called to clear smoke out of a house whose occupants had left food cooking on the stove too long. Luckily they had arrived promptly, before the house caught fire. She had no idea Andy lived this close to where she had been.
Jordan walked with Andy up to the back porch. The back door was locked, but Andy had remembered to bring her keys for just such an event.
“Just a minute,” she told Jordan . “Ken might still be here. I don't know if I want to do this if he's here. I'll check the garage.”
She walked back to the garage where she unlocked and opened the door to Ken's workshop. Stale cigarette smoke immediately assaulted her nostrils. She wrinkled up her nose in disgust. She looked through the open doorway to where they parked the vehicles and noted Ken's truck was not there. She glanced at her watch. It was a quarter after two.
He's probably out with his buddies bragging about how he kicked me out because I'm attracted to women, she thought. There's nothing I can do about that, either.
While Andy was checking the garage, Jordan noted the single maple tree in the back yard. No trees in the front yard. The thought crossed her mind briefly, out of nowhere: At least she doesn't have many leaves to rake up in the fall. I love having the big maple trees around my house for shade in the summer, but I don't especially like it when they shed their leaves in the fall. I'm constantly raking leaves in the fall because they don't all come down at the same time.
She caught herself then, wondering why she would be thinking about such a mundane thing—especially since Andy would probably not be living here in the fall because of Ken's actions. Unless he changed his mind. That's unlikely , she thought, knowing how the minds of homophobes ran.
“He's not here, Jordan ,” Andy said, running back to the porch. “Let's go in and grab what we can. We need to hurry. We've got less than an hour, if he runs true to form about the time. Today is Sunday, so he's probably gone out to coffee or dinner or something with his buddies. But after what happened earlier, I really have no idea when he'll be back or where he is. He could be here in a matter of minutes or be gone the rest of the day. We'll just have to take our chances.”
Andy wasn't anxious for Ken and Jordan to have a run-in. She knew Ken had an out-of-control temper now. She couldn't imagine Jordan getting angry with anyone , but she probably had on occasion, and she didn't think it would be wise to get in her face when she did ! She didn't want it to come to blows between her and Ken. She wanted nobody to get hurt on her account. She was the cause of this mess, after all, wasn't she?
A pall of guilt hung over her like a dense fog, and there was no way she could shake it off. She decided she would just do what she needed to do for her own safety and wellbeing. She'd pack up her things quickly and move out and leave Ken to think about what he'd done. She wondered if he felt any guilt after what happened.
Andy and Jordan walked into the kitchen. Ken left the coffeepot on again, Andy noted. He's always doing that. And I'm always telling him to turn it off. Or I turn it off myself. With an anger suddenly rising up in her that she couldn't explain, she applied more force to her finger on the ‘off' button and slammed down hard on it. Then she bit down a cry as it hurt her finger more than she realized. That made her furious!
She showed Jordan where her study was and left her there to unhook all of her computer equipment while she went back into the kitchen and found some large trash bags to throw her clothes in. She knew there wouldn't be enough time to arrange things neatly in suitcases. She had to be selective and hurriedly chose what she needed. Everything in her dresser drawers would go, of course, but she didn't want to pack something from her closet she knew she would never wear again.
After she rounded up all the items of clothing she wanted, she retrieved her small overnight case stored in the bedroom closet and tossed her bathroom things in that. She never realized she had so much stuff , and deliberately threw most of her cosmetics in the trash. Why do I need this stuff anymore? she rationalized. I only used it when I went to one of Ken's company parties or something, to impress his boss. If I need something later, I can buy it.
Jordan carried the computer out to the SUV, along with all of its peripherals. Andy has some fantastic equipment , she thought to herself. All professional and up-to-date. She must do a lot of research. Over lunch one time, Andy had briefly told her of her obsession with climate change.
Jordan had an almost-obsolete computer on which she finalized her workshop material, but she didn't have everything Andy did. Just from the looks of all the equipment she put in her vehicle, she knew Andy took her work seriously. That's a good thing. Andy is very intelligent as well as beautiful. She has a lot going for her.
Then she took out Andy's bags of clothes and overnight case Andy had deposited at the back door. She arranged things in her vehicle so she'd have room for more of Andy's stuff.
“Just a few more things,” Andy told Jordan , standing with her in the middle of her study. “For one thing, I have to take the library books back. And I want to take some of my books over to your house—the scientific books, my yoga books, and some others that I need in my research on global warming—as well as some lesbian materials I've been reading.”
There were also some papers she had been working on concerning climate change. There was no way she was going to leave her research for Ken to tear up and throw out in his anger. She had put too much time into that complicated and serious work.
“What do you want me to do?” Jordan asked. “Is there anything in the rest of the house you want to take with you?”
“Just some other things here in my study. I'm going to leave everything else,” Andy replied. “There is nothing left here that I would regret leaving behind at this time.”
She had three empty computer paper boxes in her study. While Jordan filled two of them with the books and papers that Andy pointed out, Andy threw everything that was in her desk into the third box. Jordan carried the boxes out to the SUV.
Then Andy gathered up the armful of lesbian literature she bought which she thought had been carefully hidden from Ken and placed them in another trash bag to carry out to the SUV. Tears started coming to her eyes again when she realized she hadn't hidden them well enough.
I should have been more careful. But how could I have changed what happened? What more could I have done? If I'd told him about my sexual orientation earlier, right at the beginning when I first noticed the change….NO, she told herself with a shudder. I'm not going there. I didn't even know what was happening. It's over now, anyway—
One last look around her study and bedroom, and they were out the door. The important thing was to take what she absolutely had to have for right now. As she looked at her things packed to the roof of Jordan 's vehicle, it seemed to her that everything loaded in there was what she really cared about. After thirty years of marriage! If there was anything left that she really needed—or wanted—she would come back another time—maybe. Ken might have a change of heart by then. He would probably want a divorce, nevertheless, and any joint property would be dealt with later. She felt their split was permanent, and there was no turning back now.
They were backing out of the driveway when Andy saw Ken coming down the street in his truck. He would not know it was her, as he didn't know what kind of vehicle Jordan drove. He'd probably think it was just somebody turning around in the driveway. He didn't know where Jordan lived, either, Andy thought thankfully. Ken would have a hard time finding her if he started looking for her. As a matter-of fact, he would have no way of knowing she had gone to Jordan 's house at all, since he never knew of her friendship with Jordan . She could pull her car up in Jordan 's long driveway, too, and it would be relatively hidden from sight if he happened to drive down Jordan 's street. He would never find her.
“ Jordan , hurry,” she said. “I see Ken coming.”
She slid down low in the front seat while Jordan finished backing out. Then Jordan peeled rubber, and they took off down the street in the opposite direction from where Ken was coming. Andy sat up and looked back to see Ken pulling in the driveway. He was oblivious to Jordan 's SUV racing down the street.
“Won't he be surprised,” Jordan said to Andy, glancing over at her and smiling.
“He'll be mad , I can tell you that much,” Andy replied. She looked at her watch. It read half past three. “We got out of there just in the nick of time, didn't we? For once, I'm glad he was late today.”
He must have gone for coffee, she thought. Probably gloating—
* * * * * *
Ken walked into the house, noticing the back door was unlocked. He was sure he had locked it when he left for coffee. He probably shouldn't have gone for coffee, but he wasn't going to interrupt his routine right now. His friends would find out soon enough. He wandered through the kitchen into the living room and sat down in his chair and turned on the TV.
He wondered where Andrea was now. He again felt he had done the right thing by showing her the door. But then, what would his life be like if she had stayed? There was nothing left between them. She didn't love him anymore, didn't want sex anymore, and didn't want anything to do with him. All she wanted was women! She could just get the hell out of his life and let him get on with his!
His bitterness turned to resentment as he thought how he had given his life to her. He had kept her safe and secure and would have done anything for her. And she had done this to him! If it hadn't been for that yoga class….He should have put his foot down right at the beginning and told her she couldn't do it. Then she never would have been around women at all. She was never around women before she started taking yoga lessons. Why had she changed? He didn't understand it.
He got up a couple of hours later to fix himself a grilled cheese sandwich and pour himself a glass of milk. After he ate, he came back and sat in his chair into the night, thinking of the past and only remotely watching the TV. He fell asleep in his chair, which had become a habit after Andrea moved into a separate bedroom a few months ago. Eventually he roused up and shuffled off to bed.
It was only the next morning when he went into the bathroom to shave for work that he noticed the bathroom trash can was full of Andrea's makeup jars and various applicators. He looked around the house and saw that Andrea had been there and taken most of her personal things. He reasoned that she'd probably come yesterday afternoon when he was gone.
It's better like this, he thought. I'm glad I wasn't here. I would have just gotten angrier—
He remembered years ago, when she was suffering from what he later found out was postpartum depression about a month after the twins were born, she wanted to leave. He had no idea what postpartum depression was at the time and was sure she didn't want to be married to him anymore. He was so absolutely certain of it in his own mind, that he slapped her across the face a couple of times to bring her back to her senses. Then he told her, “If you ever leave me, don't come back.” She stayed and had stayed with him for 30 years. After he found out what postpartum depression was, he made no apology for his actions. He still felt justified in what he had done. And he felt justified ever since in whatever he did concerning Andrea. What he did concerning her now was no exception.
So it's final , he thought. She won't be back. But she hadn't left him, either. He had thrown her out. He had no choice, did he? How could he ever live with a lesbian ?
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR – Moving In
Jordan pulled her SUV into the garage and left the garage door open when they got out so she could bring Andy's things into the house. She felt a sudden relief. She hadn't had to confront Andy's husband and end up calling him all kinds of names she had in mind. Although she'd been prepared for that. And if it had come to a physical confrontation, she'd been prepared for that, too. She'd had enough experience standing up for herself and her sisters when she was growing up. She touched the small scar at one corner of her upper lip as she remembered.
Poor Andy. She doesn't deserve what Ken did to her by throwing her out. They might have been able to come to some kind of understanding if he'd given her a chance. But it would be hard to repair something like this now. What's done is done….And I seriously doubt they would have stayed together as a couple at any rate.
She carried Andy's things into the house in silence, depositing them temporarily in the living room and under the dining room table. Jordan 's thoughts were of Andy, glancing at her now and then, as she brought load after load into the house. She had told Andy just to relax and let her carry things in from the SUV. Andy was silent, also, stacking her things neatly as Jordan brought them in.
Andy is such a gentle person, Jordan thought. She couldn't help what happened to her. She didn't deliberately set out to be a lesbian.
Jordan remembered other women over the years telling her about their experiences. What happened to Andy happened to a lot of married women and/or older women. And hormonal changes during mid-life were not necessarily the reason. Getting involved deeply in yoga played a great part in changing some women's lives—no matter at what age—where pent-up emotions and feelings buried deep inside suddenly surfaced. It didn't happen to all women, but it was a brand new experience for many women who took yoga seriously and saw the practice in the light of exploring their inner self. Yoga acted as a catalyst, not just something to keep joints limber and flexible. When a woman moved beyond the practice of yoga as simply a way to exercise and get out of the house once in a while, almost anything could happen. And it had happened to Andy.
Jordan also thought that if Andy hadn't been beaten as a child by a horrible woman caregiver, she might have turned out entirely different. Instead of becoming a tomboy growing up in an almost wholly male environment and fearing women to the point where she never wanted to associate with them, she probably would have discovered her real sexual orientation as a young girl and been able to come out early. She felt Andy would never have gotten married if her childhood had been more normal. She was still in the process of discovering herself, which was a scary thing. But her husband forced her to come out. She had no choice. She couldn't have denied it, as the evidence was right there—all the lesbian literature she had tried so hard to hide from Ken. But she hadn't been ready.
If Andy hadn't started taking yoga lessons, probably none of this would have happened in the first place. She would have continued to be the dutiful wife and mother, never knowing the joy of finding out who she really was, living a lie that she didn't even know was a lie. She would have gone on fearing women like she had all of her life and never wondered why. She probably would never have known deep down inside that she was actually attracted to women.
Jordan 's heart of compassion went out to Andy, alongside of the love for her that had grown over the months. She vowed she would protect Andy and would never let anything or anyone hurt her again. She didn't know if she would ever have a chance to love her fully, although she wanted to now. Their age difference no longer mattered. Jordan 's thoughts of other women in her life raced through her memory: her first partner of seven years; the years after that of all the women she had taken to bed just for the sex before Ellie came along. Ellie—whom she loved, but who had not returned her love. Ellie—who had ultimately betrayed her.
She wanted so much more for Andy. Andy had never experienced the kind of love that Jordan wanted to give her—the love that only a woman could give. Jordan hoped that one day Andy would see that love in her and want to return it.
* * * * * *
“Hey, how about we take a break?” Jordan said, after she carried the last box in from the SUV. “I'll fix us something to drink. How does raspberry lemonade sound? Or I could make some coffee or some kind of tea—” She stood at the kitchen doorway, waiting for Andy's response.
“Raspberry lemonade sounds great to me,” Andy finally said, trying to appear enthusiastic.
She could hardly believe they had gotten away from her house without Ken seeing them. And here she was with Jordan —something else she could hardly believe. Things were moving too quickly for her to assimilate everything that had happened in the last few hours.
She sat down tiredly on a dining room chair and looked around at her new surroundings. She had been here only one time—yesterday—to drop off a book she had borrowed from Jordan . Was it only yesterday? She didn't even come in the house then. And since Jordan thought it would be wise if they went right away to get her things, she'd not had time to look around when she first got here today, either. She'd been crying too much. She'd carried empty cups to the kitchen a while ago, but now was really too tired to give more than a cursory glance at where the other rooms were in relation to the kitchen and living room. She just wanted to sit for a while and rest. She was exhausted. The unexpectedness of what had happened between her and Ken was beginning to take its toll on her.
She wondered what Ken's reaction to all of this was going to be after he calmed down and then found that she'd come back to the house and gotten her things. As Jordan 's voice became undecipherable background noise in the kitchen, Andy tried to analyze why things were happening like this. She barely knew who she was, and for Ken to not even allow her to give him an explanation—
For the first time in her life, she felt like an outcast from her own family. She was disappointed that it had to turn out this way, but she was relieved at the same time. Now the truth was out, and she didn't have to hide her true self from Ken anymore.
“It's a little after four o'clock,” Jordan was saying as the sound of ice dropping into glasses accompanied her words from the kitchen. “Megan will be home shortly, and I thought we'd go out to eat somewhere. It would give us all a break to relax a bit and think about the change we'll be going through. I thought we might start clearing some stuff out of the guest bedroom tonight, but it's kind of late, so I think we'll stick with my original plan. We'll start rearranging things in the morning. I still have one more day left in my four-day break before I have to go back to work on Tuesday. We should be able to get most everything done tomorrow. And what isn't done tomorrow, we can work on during next week when I'm not at work. Is that all right with you?”
Andy was silent.
“Andy, is that all right with you?” Jordan asked, stopping to look at her around the corner of the kitchen.
“I'm sorry, Jordan ,” Andy replied, finally realizing that Jordan was speaking to her. “I was thinking about something else. What were you saying?”
“I was talking about going out to get something to eat shortly when Megan gets home. And clearing out the guest bedroom tomorrow,” Jordan said. She stepped into the kitchen doorway and leaned on the doorjamb. “Are you okay, Andy?”
Andy looked up at her and smiled. “Yeah, I'm fine now. I feel like I can breathe again. Do you know what that feels like?”
“I think I know what you're talking about,” Jordan said. She remembered how she felt after Ellie's things were completely out of the house. “After dinner you'll feel even better. What would you like to eat tonight?” She went back into the kitchen.
“I'm easy to please. You know that.”
“Oh, that's right; you're the one who doesn't know what she likes to eat!” Jordan said laughingly, trying to cheer Andy up.
“I really haven't given much thought to eating,” Andy said despondently. “I'm just not hungry.”
“Well, you need to get some nourishment into your body,” Jordan told her, “even if it's no more than a bowl of soup and some crackers.”
She came out of the kitchen and set the tray with two glasses and the pitcher of raspberry lemonade on the dining room table. She handed Andy a glass with ice in it and watched her carefully pour out the lemonade.
“So here are a few cookies, to kind of tide you over till dinner,” she said, pointing to a plate of half a dozen cookies on the tray.
Then Jordan sat down and poured herself a glassful of lemonade. She and Andy sat quietly, sipping their drinks. Andy began to nibble on a cookie, as she remembered she hadn't eaten all day. She took only a couple of bites, though, and set it down on her napkin.
“This lemonade tastes wonderful, Jordan ,” she said and took a deep breath.
Jordan responded, “Yes, it hits the spot. I worked up a sweat. The cookies aren't half bad, either. Considering that these are what Megan and Suzanne baked yesterday.”
She smiled when she remembered her niece learning how to bake from a simple cookie recipe. She learns quickly, she thought. These cookies really are good! She stuffed a whole cookie in her mouth, hoping—by her own enthusiasm—she could coax Andy into taking a few more bites. She knew that having no appetite was often one of the immediate symptoms of people who were depressed.
When Andy showed no sign of wanting to eat any more, Jordan continued, “Maybe I can just get something at KFC or somewhere. We'll see what Megan wants to eat when she gets home. She likes to order out sometimes, so maybe it'll be her favorite pizza.”
Jordan saw that Andy was trying to be accommodating, but she also saw that Andy was trying to cope with what had just happened. So she moved away from the subject of food. She sensed that wasn't helping matters because Andy had no appetite.
“I'll put you in Megan's bed for tonight. She'd love to sleep on the couch by the fireplace. She says it's more like camping out, which we've done on occasion. I feel she needs to sleep in her own bed when we're at home, but tonight I'll make an exception. You won't mind sleeping in her bed, will you?”
“If Megan doesn't mind,” Andy answered, staring at her drink. “I don't want to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable.”
“I'm sure Megan won't mind. Or you could sleep in my bed, if you'd like—“
“ Jordan , you've done so much for me already,” Andy said. “I wouldn't put you out of your own bed, for God's sake! Megan's bed will be fine.” She thought she could sleep in the couch as well as Megan, but since Megan like to ‘camp out'—
They sat silently for a moment and then Jordan said, almost as an afterthought, “I'll run your car in the garage right now, before it gets dark. I have enough room since it's a two-car garage. I don't think we should leave it parked out on the street.”
“How can I ever thank you?” Andy said, looking up at Jordan across the table. Jordan gazed at her intensely. Abruptly she got up and went out the front door. She was back in less than a minute.
“I guess it would help if I had your keys,” she said, holding her hand out, palm up. They both laughed as Andy dug in her pocket for the car keys.
“I'll go with you,” Andy said. “I need to get some things out of the car that I don't want to leave in there.”
Andy was walking back into the house with an armload of stuff, when Megan came across the street from Suzanne's.
“Hi, Andy,” she said.
“Hello, Megan,” Andy replied, cheerily. “How was swimming?” Megan opened the front door.
“It was good, I guess. We wanted to stay longer, but it started getting cold, and the clouds were rolling in. How are you, Andy? Are you glad you're staying with us?”
“You know what, Megan?” Andy replied. “I am very glad I'm staying with you. I'm doing great!”
Her words belied how she really felt, but she wanted to keep an up-beat relationship with Megan. They went into the house and Megan immediately spied the raspberry lemonade on the dining room table and ran to the kitchen for a glass. Andy watched the little girl's enthusiasm with life and tried to remember a time when she had been as carefree.
To be continued...
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