Turnabout Is Fair Play…I Suppose
It’s 1991 and, apparently, time for another major change…
Chuck always said that major events came along every three years: married in 1983, child in 1986, beginning of Project Relocate to “Broken House” in 1989 (bit of a stretch here). It made perfect sense, then, that 1991 would be a year of change. My Ph.D. and new job weren’t dramatic enough. Something bigger, more memorable, had to mark the year.
Not in charge Unhappy at his job where advancement was impossible and he felt underappreciated, Chuck and an opportunity collided in the form of buying out a business. He could do what he did best: be the boss let his creative, entrepreneurial spirit fly. He talked me into it. We discussed this at length. Chuck was a smooth-talker and arguing with him was like throwing Jello on Teflon. It was his turn to follow his dream, having spent the last eight years of our marriage supporting me through alcoholism and my Ph.D. Stability and security was now my responsibility. How could I argue with that? I figured if he used this kind of smooth-talking with his clients, he’d make us the ton of money he envisioned and the “Broken House” would be broken no more.
Over-head was low considering he set up his new business in our house and some of the rooms didn’t even have ceilings. Because clients would theoretically come to his “office,” he had to fix up at least a few parts of the house. That’s when I learned a great deal about “business expenses.”
Here’s what was great about Chuck owning his own business and having it in our home:
- He was happy and energized, looking forward to going to work without pants.
- Some rooms that were “broken” got “fixed.”
- If Alex got sick, he was there (most days) to stay at home/work with him while I was in class (but this was true in his former job).
Here’s what wasn’t great about Chuck owning his own business and having it in our home:
- Before we could afford to fix what was broken, he set up shop in various locations in our home: in the middle of the living room and in a vacant space outside our bedroom. While mostly it was just him and K, the assistant he hired to answer our phone, file, and generally keep him organized, there were often awkward, underwear moments.
- When his business slowly grew and the private spaces in our home couldn’t accommodate the occasional client and a growing staff a whole section of the house was rehabbed into his office space. The potentially grandest part of the house was cordoned off and filled with desks, file cabinets, and wired for computers—not the vision I had for my dream home.
- The other, “private” areas of our home, except our bedrooms, were fair game for strangers. Employees and clients had to use the bathroom. Lunch and coffee breaks were kitchen affairs. In the summer, I couldn’t be seen in just a bathing suit; it was unprofessional.
For me, the most difficult and unforeseen result of Chuck’s foray into small business ownership was that nearly all of our resources (and more) went back into the hungry mouth of the business. After renovations to make his office area look proper, work on the house halted. We became indebted to the business with the promise that, in the future, the rewards would be vast. Chuck worked incredibly hard to build his business; it just devoured needed both him and our money.
I worked steadily, doing what I loved (teaching) and believed that his
fanatical myopic dogged devoted attention to his business would moderate and he would recognize remember pay a little more attention to his family life. I gained weight during this time. Maybe if I was a bigger target, he’d see me. If he did, he didn’t say so. Alex did, though. He asked when his little brother or sister was coming. I told him to enjoy being an only child.
Enter S, a guy he met through a client. S became the “brother” Chuck never had but always longed for. If Chuck needed a break from the stresses and demands of running a fledgling business, he found it with S. They biked together and Chuck even spent times on the weekends helping S with his home repair projects.
My “double-Ds” didn’t just stand for my bra size—I felt Discarded and Dumped. Ever the “pleaser,” though, I focused on Chuck. He was pursuing his dream, had found a great friend to have fun with, and still made time for Alex. He was a hard worker and great dad. My needs, I decided, were selfish, so I bought larger clothes and became the best college professor, mom, and wife-on-call I could be.
Is Lorna’s marriage in trouble? Again? Or is just Lorna in trouble?